D.C. charter schools hold lottery for student admission

Get one of the rare lucky chips and you're admitted to the D.C. charter school of your choice.

For thousands of D.C. families today was the real March madness, the day charter schools announce who will be admitted in the fall.

And at one school, it's actually statistically easier to get into Harvard.

In D.C., 43 percent of all school kids go to charter schools. They're chosen by lottery.

The school with the longest waiting list has an acceptance rate of less than 2 percent. Harvard's rate is 6 percent.

And unlike an Ivy League school, no connection in the world can get you in.

It's doubtful the preschool through 8th grade students at Two Rivers Charter School in Northeast know just how lucky they are.

In this lottery, 1,840 children applied to get in. Only 32 will be chosen, and 20 of those are for the incoming preschool class.

“I absolutely, 100 percent, think a lottery is the fairest way in D.C. Everyone who applies has equal shot of getting in,” says Jessica Wodatch, the founder of Two Rivers Charter School.

Even when you teach at a school, your own children can't automatically attend.

“I see the power of this approach and you just want that for your own kids, but you can't have it unless you're lucky enough to win this lottery,” says Jessica Ellis, a teacher at Two Rivers.

Federal law governs charter schools in D.C. No one can jump the lottery. Neither the children of teachers nor principals. Even siblings of students aren't guaranteed.

The only automatic “in” is reserved for the family of the school's founder.