Thursday, May 18, 2017

School Choice in the District of Columbia: apparently not all according to algorithm

The Washington Post has the story: it seems that some politically connected families were able to get the schools they wanted without going through the school choice algorithm...

Secret report shows ‘special’ treatment for public officials in D.C. school lottery

"Former D.C. Public Schools chancellor Kaya Henderson routinely helped well-connected parents — including two senior aides to Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) — bend or break the rules of the District’s notoriously competitive school lottery to enroll their children at coveted schools, according to a confidential report obtained by The Washington Post.

The report, based on an investigation by the D.C. Inspector General’s Office, describes in remarkable detail how Henderson used her power as head of the school system to place the children of those with political clout at campuses they could not otherwise access through the random lottery, which every year leaves thousands of families on waiting lists for their desired schools.

Inspector General Daniel Lucas found that Henderson misused her authority by giving preferential treatment to seven of 10 people who requested special school placements for their children during the 2015 lottery season. The investigation did not examine the rest of Henderson’s tenure from November 2010 to September 2016.

[Read the confidential inspector general’s report obtained by The Post]

Henderson openly acknowledged in interviews with investigators that she gave special treatment to the children of government officials. Asked about the help she gave City Administrator Rashad M. Young, a top Bowser cabinet official whose salary is $295,000, Henderson said D.C. officials “do not necessarily get paid as much as we should.”

The former chancellor bestowed such favors even as she dismissed pleas for special consideration from those with less influence, such as a deaf Vietnamese immigrant whose request that her daughter be allowed to attend a school where she could practice sign language was rejected.

The findings could shake public confidence in the city’s school lottery, which has been held up as a national model. It also raises troubling questions for Bowser, whose defense of her cabinet officials’ roles in the scandal is undercut by details in the report."
"[This is how the D.C. lottery is supposed to work]".
And here's a story from 2013 as the school choice system was introduced:
D.C. is preparing a unified enrollment lottery for its traditional and charter schools

IIPSC designed the algorithm, but not the politics.

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