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As of the 2006-2007 school year, 19,733 students attended charter schools in the District of Columbia, representing over a quarter of the District’s total public school student population and one of the largest charter school markets in the country.1 It is under such circumstances, some suggest, that choice will spur competition, ultimately leading to the improvement of public education. Yet, surprisingly little research has evaluated the behavioral response of public schools in D.C. to this source of competition. Most research to date on school choice in D.C. and elsewhere focuses on the largely positive “participant effects” that school choice programs have on choosers. By looking at the issue from the ground level of one of the most choice-prevalent districts in the United States, we seek to closely examine the causal dynamics of “systemic effects” induced by competition from within the D.C. education establishment. Our study consists of a series of interviews, focus groups, and surveys along three levels: District elites, principals, and teachers.