City Desk

Why the WaPo’s Fenty Schooling ‘Explanation’ Is Not Convincing

Some folks might be satisfied with the "innocent explanation" presented in this morning's Washington Post editorial on the enrollment of Mayor Adrian Fenty's twin sons at Lafayette Elementary:

Mr. Fenty's neighborhood school, West Elementary, has only one fourth-grade class. Most studies show that twins, particularly if they are of the same gender, should be in separate classes for both learning and social development. That's apparently why Ms. Rhee — using a process employed for other families in similar circumstances — assigned the boys to Lafayette, where the existence of four fourth-grade classes made it easy to accommodate them. The school is also in Ward 4, where the Fentys live.

Some folks, on the other hand, might not be satisfied.

The editorial doesn't by any means alleviate concerns over special treatment. For instance, the editorial contains no accounting of how many times a twins situation has been addressed through a Rhee-approved transfer.

And then there's the question of why, if West was unsuitable, send them to Lafayette—one of the most sought-after schools in the system?

This afternoon, LL called the 14 places in the D.C. Public Schools where the Fenty twins could attend fourth grade that are closer to their Crestwood home than Lafayette: Bancroft Elementary, Barnard Elementary, Brightwood Education Campus, Cooke Elementary, Eaton Elementary, Hearst Elementary, Oyster-Adams Bilingual School, Murch Elementary, Powell Elementary, Reed Community Learning Center, Truesdell Education Campus, Tubman Elementary, West Elementary (their in-boundary school), and Whittier Education Campus.

Besides West, Hearst is the only other school confirmed to have only one fourth-grade class this year. (Maybe Truesdell, too—the office staff there wouldn't say how many they have.)

Lafayette happens to have higher math and reading scores than all of the schools with multiple fourth-grade classes closer to the Fenty home.

The unsourced Post editorial (writer Jo-Ann Armao would not comment further on the sourcing for her scoop) acknowledges that "Lafayette's stellar reputation was an added lure for the mayor and his wife." It goes to to forgive them for "wanting the best for their children."

Some other parents, who also want the best for their children, might not be so forgiving. Perhaps Lafayette should prepare for an influx of twins in upcoming years?

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  • Contrarian

    Check on Shepherd ES too...

  • Mike DeBonis

    Shepherd is farther from the Fenty home than Lafayette, actually. Takoma, also, is just barely farther.

  • Babs

    Those parents set outside all night long to be selected in the lottery. I would be upset too.

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  • EG

    Not remarked in all this is the fact that it's probably easy to transition into a non-entry grade for any school (like grade 4) because you would be replacing attrition. If he got his kids into Lafayette at pre-K, that would be probably taking spots away from someone who tried to get in the old-fashioned way, by not being the Mayor.

    That having been said, some journo needs to dig into whether Lafayette turned down someone else to take hizonner's kids. That's the critical issue.

  • lynn

    My daughter attended Eaton until last year. There were same sex twins who were in the same class at least since fourth grade (possibly earlier) through sixth. I don't buy the explanation.

  • Truth Hurts

    Not taking sides here, just commenting. My sister has twin boys. She sent them to different schools based on the advice of professionals. I'm fairly confident that the consensus among people who study these things is that it's better for twins not to be in the same class.

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