By Kavitha Cardoza
D.C. School's Chancellor Michelle Rhee has announced the first increase in traditional school enrollment in 39 years. And she says the momentum in education reform can continue with or without her.
The increase reverses years of decreasing enrollment, even if it just translates to what Rhee calls "a few hundred children."
"It's about a one percent increase which is not huge, but it is in fact an increase," says Rhee.
DCPS would not provide a breakdown of enrollment by school, grade or race. But Rhee says more than 70 schools across all eight wards saw an increase, some with double digits.
For example Powell Elementary saw a 32% increase, Hardy Middle School saw a 24% increase and Coolidge High School saw a 12 percent increase.
Rhee says this shows parents have more "faith and confidence" in traditional public schools. She says the economy might have been a factor in parents choosing to send their children to DCPS.
"But certainly our parents have choice, and if money was the only factor and the quality of DCPS was not improving, then you'd see those people moving to charter schools," she says.
DCPS numbers are typically lower than the annual enrollment audit, when student residency is verified. But Rhee says while the audited figures might come in lower, she expects there to be an increase overall.