On February 15, 2023, the D.C. Policy Center’s report, The role of school boundaries in the District of Columbia, was featured in Greater Greater Washington:
“We can absolutely center equity as the priority and look at the ways where when we have a vision of our public school system in the city where every child is getting absolutely what they need [and] has the range of opportunities that we know every child deserves,” said Abigail Smith, the former DC Deputy Mayor for Education, at DC Policy Center’s recent launch of its report on school boundaries. “We can use student assignment policies to help us get there.”
The DC Policy Center report offers insight into advancing equity in the review process, as well as ways to use school boundaries to increase diversity, access to in-demand schools, and to relieve overcrowding. However, exactly what equity means and how to achieve it are complicated questions in a city with a high degree of choice: less than half of DC’s schools even have a guaranteed spot for students who live in a particular area.
The DC Policy Center’s report finds that just 28% of public school students attend the institution where their address guarantees them access. The rest — 72% — use the common lottery, through which they can apply to charter or traditional public schools across the city.
“Within the Jackson-Reed feeder pattern, families tend to have the resources to either choose where they live and therefore choose their by-right school or choose to attend a private school,” said Chelsea Coffin, the Director of the Education Policy Initiative at DC Policy Center and one of the report’s authors.