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Gray Calls For More Collaboration Between Public And Charter Schools

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In a speech on Thursday outlining his citywide vision for public education, D.C. Mayor Vince Gray said it is imperative that traditional and charter public schools collaborate.

Gray said for the first time D.C.'s two education sectors will look at citywide data on the need, supply and demand for public schools to coordinate planning. He wants DCPS Chancellor to have chartering authority, and charter schools to have more access to school buildings. Gray also said that he wants to simplify the application process for parents.

"Although we have a vibrant system of public school choice in the District, our current system is confusing and time-consuming," he said.

Gray said he'll create one common online application, one lottery system and one deadline. Also, parents will be able to compare schools in both systems through a common report card.

Enrollment in the city's growing charter sector has ticked up over the years, and now 43 percent of all public schools students attend a charter school.

D.C. Council member David Catania (I-At Large) said he is "happy" to hear the mayor suggest some of the ideas he had already proposed, including changing how much money schools receive to educate each child and creating more career and technical programs. But Catania said Gray's proposals don't go far enough.

"I still want to see a greater school accountability, the ending of social promotion. I'm a very big proponent of summer school, we've got to work on that," he said.

Catania recently introduced seven bills dealing with public education, and is hosting discussions in all of the city's wards over the summer to discuss the future of public education in D.C. The D.C. Council is expected to take up Catania's bills in the coming weeks.

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