Let’s now look at what happened to the enrollment in the ordinary DC public schools, and in the charter schools, separately, over the same period (sy 2001/2 through sy 2012/13), so far.
Here is OSSE’s somewhat misleading graph for the regular DC public school system:
Once again, they are using a vertical scale that doesn’t go to zero, which exaggerates the amount of change. Just looking at the height of the bars, you might think that in 2010, there were only half as many students as in 2002. But that is definitely not the case: it was only a drop of about 32%. That’s serious, but not the same as a 50% drop.
Here is the same data, reformatted by me:
Here, the height of the bars is proportional to the enrollment. And you can see that in the years after 2008, there has been very little change one way or the other in the enrollment of regular DC public schools.
Now let’s compare that with the enrollment in the DC charter schools, which has seen a steady and dramatic increase. For once, the OSSE graph is NOT misleading!!!
The reason that the last blue bar on the right is over three times as tall as the first bar on the left is that, in fact, the charter school population during the current year (2012-13) is in fact nearly three and a half times as much as the charter school population was in 2001-2. That is explosive growth!
Now let’s look at market share, so to speak. What percentage of the students attending publicly-funded pre-K-12 schools in DC are going to regular public schools and what percentage are attending charter schools? The following graph, prepared by me, lets you see just that:
If you follow the trends, it would appear that in a few years, there will be more students in “public” charter schools in DC than in the regular public schools.
Reactions from our public officials? A quote from Mayor Vincent Gray: “One of the strongest indicators that our school system is improving is a steady increase in enrollment numbers – an increase I’m proud to see we have once again achieved,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “This marks the largest enrollment increase in the District’s public schools in 45 years.”
Again, factually correct, but rather an exaggeration. He and his superintendent of schools appear to starve regular DCPS classrooms, enlarge an already bloated and overpaid central office bureaucracy, while funneling cash via foundations to the charter schools. DC now has a larger percentage of its school-age population in charter schools than any other city except for Katrina-battered New Orleans, which mostly means that DCPS central administration remains utterly incompetent at running a school system.