A day after D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced her plan to close 20 schools, parents across the city signaled their intent to protest, labor leaders said they would push to unionize charter schools and charter-school advocates vowed to fight for control of vacated buildings.
The reactions to Henderson’s plan were the first salvos in a battle that will unfold over the next several weeks and ultimately decide the shape of the District’s school system.
Parents in Northwest Washington said they will oppose plans to put some middle and high school students in the same building. The chancellor’s proposal would create two campuses shared by sixth- through 12th-graders.
“Our parents will not put our kids in that environment,” said Lee Granados, a mother of two children at Ross Elementary, which would feed into Cardozo High School.
The chancellor said her plan is meant to shift resources from maintaining under-enrolled schools to focus on improving academic programs. She said she will tweak the details of the plan after hearing community feedback but will hold firm on the number of schools to be shuttered.
“We’ve got to close 20 schools,” she told reporters Tuesday. “If it’s not this school, it’s that school.”
Henderson has offered few specifics about how a grade 6-12 school campus would work, Granados said, testing the patience of parents who want to commit to the school system but see no attractive option. Many parents are already fleeing to charter schools for middle school, she added.
“It’s scary,” Granados said of the chancellor’s plan, “and parents aren’t going to risk their children.”