Last Friday, the Deputy Mayor of Education released a revised proposal to overhaul the District’s school zones and feeder patterns. The first version of the proposal was released in April, and drew immediate negative responses regarding the inclusion of “choice sets”, which would remove the guarantee that children could attend their local school. The new proposal removes that concept, and makes a few adjustments to the map changes earlier released.
The concept behind “choice sets” was this: you’re not guaranteed a spot at your local school. You are assigned to one of three nearby schools. You could express a preference for one over the others, but assignment was to be decided by lottery. Not surprisingly this was strongly disliked in neighborhoods with solid schools due to the possibility that it would bar kids from attending the sought after neighborhood school.
To be fair, only one of the three scenarios originally proposed contained choice sets for elementary school, but it became the immediate focus, with both major mayoral candidates rejecting it. (Actually, Bowser initially issued a release praising the choice sets as a good idea, but she quickly backtracked once she saw the furor.)
The new proposal scotches choice sets entirely. It would maintain the traditional system of a guaranteed spot at a designated sequence of elementary, middle, and high schools. Thus Georgetowners would retain rights to attend Hyde, Hardy, and Wilson.
The original proposal also called for Burleith, Foxhall Village, and parts of east Palisades to be rezoned into Hyde. This drew protests from Burleith (as GM covered here). The revised proposal, however, only tweaks the original proposal slightly by removing the Palisades portion from the move. So under the new proposal, Burleith and Foxhall Village (the part east of Foxhall) would still be rezoned into Hyde.
Will any of this come to fruition? Who knows? Catania and Bowser both have stated that should they win that they’ll scrap the plans and start from scratch. GM, however, somewhat doubts that the winner will really do this. It would be a waste of a huge amount of time and energy. Moreover, these are tough decisions that nonetheless have to be made. It would be politically smart for the new mayor to enact the final proposal and shift the political heat to the outgoing Mayor Gray rather than start from scratch and be responsible for all of it.