Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“The practical difficulty with our government has been that most of those who have administered it have taken it for granted that the Constitution, as it is written, was a thing of no importance; that it neither said what it meant, nor meant what it said…”     Lysander Spooner

February 12, 2007

Public Schools In Washington, D.C.: Broken Beyond Repair

by Doug Mataconis

The Distrct of Columbia spends more per pupil on it’s public education system than 47 out of the 50 states, and yet it’s public education system ranks as one of the worst in the nation. If nothing else, this is testament to the idea that throwing money at public schools will not solve their problems. It also makes you wonder where the money is going if problems like this still exist:

To fix D.C. public schools — better yet, to make the school system a model for the nation — look no further than what the students say they need. Donell Kie, a sophomore at Ballou Senior High School, and fellow student leaders came up with a pretty good list that was shared Saturday at a D.C. Council hearing on school reform.

Among the things that they wanted to see in every public school: “books when school starts,” “heat in winter,” “air conditioning in summer,” “healthy meals,” “water fountains that work,” “music and art classes,” “counselors who are able to help us” and “teachers who care about their students and can teach.”

These students aren’t just belly-aching about non-existent problems, they are expressing the harsh reality of what the D.C. Public School system is like. During the recent cold wave, when temperatures dipped into the single digits for days, schools in the District remained closed for days because of lack of heat:

For the fourth day in a row, D.C. school officials scrambled to keep routines as normal as possible as they tried to repair boilers that failed during the cold snap. Nearly 1,800 students from four schools were reassigned to other facilities this week because of heating problems. The four schools were Woodson and Ludlow-Taylor Elementary, both in Northeast, and Johnson Junior High and Simon Elementary in Southeast.

More than 30 other schools had boiler malfunctions this week that left rooms or sections of buildings cold. School system leaders accused the city of not providing sufficient funds to maintain aging buildings. Parents blamed everyone.

Answer me this question, if the heat doesn’t work in the winter, if there’s no air conditioning in the summer, and if the students don’t have books when the school year starts, then just what is the District of Columbia spending more that $ 16,000 per pupil per year on ?


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5 Comments

  1. And yet we somehow believe that a public school monopoly provides equality of opportunity. I promise you that the senior bureaucrats and politicians are not sending their children to those schools. The wealthy have all the opportunity right now and the poor and middle class are stuck with a socialist system of mediocrity.

    Comment by Adam Selene — February 12, 2007 @ 5:34 pm
  2. From what I have heard, a lot of stuff disappears from DC government.

    Comment by VRB — February 12, 2007 @ 6:00 pm
  3. “Answer me this question, if the heat doesn’t work in the winter, if there’s no air conditioning in the summer, and if the students don’t have books when the school year starts, then just what is the District of Columbia spending more that $ 16,000 per pupil per year on ?”

    I have no idea what the answer is; but I bet there are some folks who’d rather you didn’t ask.

    Comment by T F Stern — February 12, 2007 @ 6:27 pm
  4. According to one of the city council members, they did have $200 million allocated for school repairs–but it hasn’t been spent.

    This is why DC’s corruption and mismanagement are even failures. In a lot of big cities, if $200 million is allocated for school repairs, you might get $180 million in actual repairs with $20 million missing. But at least you would still have the school repairs!

    In DC, the $200 million sits in a bank and the kids sit in cold classrooms…

    CJL

    Comment by cjl — February 12, 2007 @ 7:31 pm
  5. Continuing to reinforce my belief that our current approach is horrible for equality of opportunity.

    Comment by Adam Selene — February 12, 2007 @ 8:25 pm

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