NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 1, 1995

A task force established at the request of House Speaker Newt Gingrich would authorize the formation of independent charter schools to help remedy the dismal record of Washington, D.C.'s public school system.

  • The city now spends an average of almost $9,000 per year on each of its 125,000 students.
  • This is the third highest spending per pupil of any state or equivalent jurisdiction.
  • It is also some $3,000 above the average.
  • Washington's student-teacher ratio (14.4) is the fourth lowest of any state or equivalent jurisdiction.
  • Yet SAT scores in the District rank 49th out of 51.

The proposal for charter schools would:

  • Give scholarships of up to $3,000 to students from families classified as being in poverty.
  • Give scholarships up to $1,500 to students from families above the poverty line, with a cap at 185% above the poverty level.
  • Utilize existing public schools, private schools and new schools established by local universities.

Critics say the present fossilized state of D.C. schools stems from rigid school bureaucracy and the vested interests of the teachers union.

While not a panacea, the charter school proposal would be a step toward allowing parents a choice in their children's education and perhaps invigorate the present stale system through educational competition.

Source: James E. Hirni (Heritage Foundation), "Making the Worst of the D.C. Schools," Washington Times, November 1, 1995.


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