When activists from the District and across the country gathered Tuesday at the U.S. Education Department to call for an end to school closures, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued a statement in solidarity: "It's time to fix, not close, our schools," she said.
A few miles away, Andy Smarick argued the opposite: it's time to close, not fix, our schools.
A crowd of edu-minded folks gathered at Busboys and Poets to hear Smarick explain his way of thinking and debate his conclusions with a panel including D.C. Chancellor Kaya Henderson.
Smarick, of the reform-oriented nonprofit Bellwether Education Partners, formerly worked as an executive for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and as New Jersey's deputy state superintendent of education. He's the author of a 2012 book, "The Urban School System of the Future," in which he outlines what he thinks it will take to improve public education.
It boils down to this: Traditional urban school systems are broken and can't be fixed. They have to be replaced. And charter schools should be the blueprint.