Tom Ultican, retired teacher of advanced mathematics and physics, has written a series of posts about the Destroy Public Education Movement. In this comprehensive post, he reviews the unimpressive but very expensive charter sector in the District of Columbia. Many charter operators have made big salaries and the British testing corporation Pearson has been enriched, but charter performance has lagged behind that of the public schools for the past two years. The District continues to have the biggest achievement gaps between racial groups of any urban district in the nation.

The District has had an intense love affair with Broadies. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who completely controls the schools, prefers Broadies, despite their continued failures.

The Mayor has almost dictatorial control over the school system with very little input from teachers, students or parents. When Muriel Bowser was elected Mayor in 2014, she inherited school Chancellor, Kaya Henderson. Bowser appointed Jennifer Niles as her chief education advisor with the title Deputy Mayor for Education. Niles was well known in the charter school circles having founded the E. L. Haynes Charter School in 2004. Niles was forced to resign when it came to light that she had made it possible for Chancellor Antwan Wilson to secretly transfer his daughter to a preferred school against his own rules.

Bowser has an affinity for education leaders that have gone through Eli Broad’s unaccredited Superintendents Academy. She is a Democratic politician who appreciates Broad’s well documented history of spending lavishly to privatize public-schools. When Kaya Henderson resigned as chancellor in 2016, Antwan Wilson from the Broad Academy class of 2012-2014, was Bowser’s choice to replace her. Subsequent scandal forced the Mayor to replace both the Chancellor and the Deputy Mayor in 2018. For Chancellor, she chose Louis Ferebee who is not only a member of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change, but is also a graduate with the Broad Academy class of 2017-2018. The new Deputy Mayor chosen was Paul Kihn Broad Academy Class of 2014-2015.

With the control Mayor Bowser has over public education, she has made the DCPS webpage look more like a vote for Bowser publication than a school information site.

Ultican describes the high levels of segregation in the charter schools, as well as the high salaries.

Mayor Bowser has handed control of the charter board over to the charter industry, which guarantees no oversight or accountability.

In the 2018-2019 school year Washington DC had 116 charter schools reporting attendance. Of that number 92 or 82% of the schools reported more than 90% Black and Hispanic students. Thirty charter schools or 26% reported over 98% Black students. These are startlingly high rates of segregation.

Of the 15 KIPP DC charter schools, all of them reported 96% or more Black students. According to their 2017 tax filings seven KIPP DC administrators took home $1,546,494. The smallest salary was $184,310.

Along with this profiteering, the seven people Mayor Bowser appointed to lead the Public Charter School Board seem more like charter industry insiders than protectors of the public trust.

*Rick Cruz (Chair) – Chief Executive Officer of DC Prep Public Charter School; formerly at the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, Teach for America and America’s Promise Alliance. Currently, he is Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships at The College Board

*Saba Bireda (Vice Chair) – Attorney at Sanford Hiesler, LLP, served under John King at the U.S. Department of Education.

*Lea Crusey (Member): Teach for America, advisory board for KIPP Chicago, worked at StudentsFirst, and Democrats for Education Reform.

*Steve Bumbaugh (Treasurer) – Manager of Breakthrough Schools at CityBridge Foundation.

*Ricarda Ganjam (Secretary) – More than 15 years as Management Consultant with Accenture; consulted on KIPP DC’s Future Focus Program.

*Naomi Shelton (Member) – Director of Community Engagement at KIPP Foundation.

*Jim Sandman (Member): President of the Legal Services Corporation.

Shouldn’t it be a conflict of interest to place members of the charter industry on the board in charge of supervising them?