From Washington Post by Bill Turque:
D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Chancellor Kaya Henderson are discussing a plan to restore the District’s power to create public charter schools as part of an effort to raise the quality of education in low-income communities.

The measure, if adopted, could accelerate the already robust growth of publicly funded, independently operated schools that serve 41 percent of the city’s 77,000 students across 98 campuses. The D.C. Public Charter School Board is currently the only entity that can authorize the opening of a charter school. The District government relinquished chartering power in 2007 when the mayor took control of the traditional school system from the old D.C. Board of Education.

Officials cautioned that the idea of adding the District as a second charter authorizer is at a preliminary stage, and that the mechanics of adopting such a change remain unclear. Gray has directed Deputy Mayor for Education De’Shawn Wright to explore the legal and procedural issues surrounding the measure.

It also comes at a time of intense discussion about the future shape and direction of public education in the city. A major new study commissioned by the city concluded that the District needed thousands of additional “quality seats” in schools serving poor neighborhoods. It recommended turning around or considering the closure of more than three dozen schools and the recruitment of high-performing charter organizations as one way of improving educational quality.

Henderson voiced unconditional support for chartering authority Thursday at a D.C. Council hearing.

In response to a question from Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), Henderson said the traditional school system would benefit by giving schools the kind of freedom that charters enjoy.

“What we know is that autonomy leads to innovation and success,” Henderson said. She added that she viewed restoration of chartering authority not as a means of competing with the charter board but as way to collaborate and move with dispatch to place good schools in underserved neighborhoods.

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