One ‘Promise’ Many Paths

An impoverished pocket of Northeast Washington has been receiving $25 million in federal grants to fund tutors, literacy programs and early-childhood education, largely to improve the neighborhood’s three struggling schools. Officials say school attendance is up, and the local charter high school has seen a boost in math scores.

But the children of Kenilworth-Parkside aren’t all benefiting from the “Promise Neighborhood” program. Less than a third of the 1,600 students who live there attend neighborhood schools; the rest are enrolled in 184 others, scattered across a city that has embraced school choice more than almost any other.

The children in the neighborhood — and similar communities across the country — are living with two sometimes-competing visions of education reform. One offers a better education and a brighter future through a citywide enrollment lottery that sends them to schools far and wide. The other promises positive outcomes from heavy investments in schools and services near their homes…