DC Public Schools See Decline Enrollment, Charter Schools Continue to See Rise

While the enrollment in DC charter schools increases drastically, public school enrollment has declined for the seventh consecutive year.

According to the Office of the State Superintendent, the enrollment for the 2007-2008 academic year dropped below 50,000. As a result, only 49,000 students were enrolled in the city’s public schools this year as compared to the 55,000 students enrolled during the 2006 – 2007 academic year.

“Many parents no longer believe in DC’s public school system. The education is not very good – the teachers are underpaid and don’t care,” says northwest DC resident James Stallings.Stallings, father of two and native to DC, thinks that the most important point is to get his kids to college. Even if that means staying on a long list to get in or paying more money to get the kids to school.

While private schools are not an option financially for many parents, with tuition approaching $30, 000 at top schools, charter schools are the next best thing.

Also to be considered, charter school enrollment increased by 22,000 students over the last academic year. With the funding for catholic schools under pressure, even the Archdiocese of Washington is looking to open new charter schools in the city.

During a press conference, a Public Charter spokeswoman says the board will authorize up to 20 new charter schools and will decide which applicants will make the cut by June 2008.

“The need for better schools in DC is making parents decide against public schools. It is very true; public school students are not getting the best education,” says Banneker High volunteer worker Jasmine Wilson. “The charter schools have better facilities, better faculty and are just more nurturing to students. Besides sports, there is no real advantage to keeping a student in public schools in the city.”

Wilson learned during her time at Banneker that many people including teachers, parents and the students themselves don’t have very little faith in the system.

“Some one needs to start caring about these kids and getting them an education. No one cares. If it means that every school will slowly become a charter school then I don’t see anything wrong with that, “Wilson proclaims.

According to the non-profit organization Fight for Children, the enrollment to charter schools has risen at an average of 13 percent. If the trend continues, more students will attend charter schools than traditional public schools by 2014.