New D.C. charter school lottery eases but doesn’t eliminate waiting lists

Part 84 of 84 in the series Educating America

By Mary C. Tillotson |

A new charter school lottery system in Washington, D.C., could streamline the process of getting students into schools chosen by parents.

Instead of entering a child’s name into several different charter schools’ lotteries, parents log onto a website and choose 12 schools in order of preference. An algorithm pairs students and schools.

“Often, we had a number of charter schools who had extensive waiting lists,” said Michael Musante of Musante Strategies. “The key thing that happened here is you now have something that should, in theory, get rid of those waiting lists, because you no longer have one family holding multiple slots up at four different schools.”

More than 70 percent of students got one of their choices, and about 85 percent of students got one of their top three choices.

Two other cities, Denver and New Orleans, have similar systems.

“It’s cool to make it easier for parents, by all means make it easier for parents to get the schools of their choice. The problem of course is there’s a dearth of seats,” said Ben Boychuck, editor of City Journal. “There is a massive market in these districts, especially where the schools are terrible.”

Choice Media and Boychuck also discussed an Oklahoma rally for public education, a teacher in trouble for taking a sick student to the hospital, a Common Core movie recently released by Homeschool Legal Defense Association, and an Ohio study considering the cost of busing students to district and charter schools.

Contact Mary C. Tillotson at