Get Social

When Parents Drive The Process: A New Model for School Creation

February 9, 2021
In Washington, D.C., a first-of-its-kind effort puts parents at the center of deciding what kind of school is right for their neighborhood

Inside Washington D.C.’s Southeast quadrant lies Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, where many enlisted men and women work and live with their families. Southeast D.C. is also home to Ward 8, where residents, the majority of whom are Black, face housing and food instability, high rates of gun violence and homelessness.

Over the years, Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling has developed a reputation among military families for a lack of high-quality schools, especially those close to the base, leading some military families to seek other assignments or retire from the armed forces altogether to avoid it. With families moving frequently, many students struggle with “splinter skills” – gaps in learning that come with moving between schools with different curricula.

A promising solution to strengthen the educational options for both military and Ward 8 families came in 2016, when the city government passed a law allowing for the establishment of a new school in Ward 8, with 50% of enrollment reserved for military families and 50% for neighborhood families.

One critical question remained – what type of school would best serve the unique needs of both communities?

View Case Study