Christian Carter’s conversation with his mother began last fall just before dinner. The eighth-grader said he didn’t like any of next year’s D.C. high school choices. The places were too scary or too disorganized, he said. He wanted to stay at Shaw Middle School, a former educational disaster area suddenly doing well. Other classmates had similar chats with their parents, their principal and eventually the chancellor of the city schools.
Now, to the astonishment of nearly every adult involved, class president Christian and his friends have become, as far as historians can determine, the first eighth-graders ever to lobby successfully for a ninth grade at their middle school so they could have an extra year to prepare for the jarring realities of urban high school.
Shelontae Carter, Christian’s mother, said he and his co-conspirators, Trevon Brown, Daamontae Brown, Ronald Bryant, Marc Jones, Davaughn Taylor and Velinzo Williams-Hines, were spoiled. They ought to grow up, she said, and adjust to ninth grade in a high school just as she did. Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee was startled to find the seven boys from Shaw in her conference room, wearing suits and ties and armed with data. She is still not quite sure how they pulled it off.