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As we’re probably all aware by now, President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle visited the Capital City Public Charter School in Columbia Heights yesterday. 

Besides shaking hands with second graders, reading a strangely nostalgic political storybook about space, and getting grilled by pre-teens about D.C. voting rights, the president apparently asked a question about school facilities. 

Who knows how long this Q&A lasted. But Charter advocates jumped on the opportunity, forwarding around this press release yesterday (which landed on the Examiner’s website.) In late December, MayorAdrian Fenty announced a request for proposals to develop 11 school sites—-much to the chagrin of the charter community. 

Why isn’t this the perfect time to revive the issue!:  

Said Robert Cane, Executive Director of Friends of Choice in Urban Schools, which advocates school reform in the District via the creation of high quality public schools:               “As a strong supporter of public charter schools on the campaign trail, President Obama might well ask Capital City Public Charter School, which operates two campuses in Columbia Heights, if they are having trouble with facilities issues.  In fact, Capital City’s Upper School currently occupies commercial space above a CVS drug store.  The District of Columbia city government refused all three of the school’s bids for empty public school buildings and has now asked condo and office developers to bid for these school buildings.

 “Mayor Fenty, who did not join the president on this D.C. school visit, should explain why some of the city’s highest performing students—whose school has earned the praise of the president—are housed in unsuitable converted retail space while almost 30 school buildings have either been closed in the last year or were already lying empty before last year.  The city has refused to open up empty school buildings to public charter schools time and time again despite the fact that D.C. law gives them the right of first offer on these vacant premises.”

Image by Radiospike, Flickr Creative Commons