Monday, February 21, 2005

Janey's Remarks Instructive 

Valerie Strauss reports today in the Washington Post about the leaders of D.C.'s Wilson High School considering converting to a charter. This would make Wilson the second traditional school to follow this path, the first being Paul Junior High. It seems that the teachers, parents, and administrators at Wilson are frustrated by the actions and inactions by the school system's central office.

What I find particularly interesting in the article is the view of the new D.C. School Superintendent toward this change:

Janey said he hopes to talk Wilson into staying in the fold. Members of the
Wilson community said they are open-minded but are looking for fundamental
changes in the way the central administration makes basic decisions.

Why would Mr. Janey feel this way? If he is truly the Superintendent of all D.C. schools then why does it matter to him the educational model a particular school uses, as long as they get results? When I asked him directly his feelings about parents taking their children out of their neighborhood school and sending them to a charter because the local school does not meet their needs, he said that it bothers him when parents move their kids in either direction. This response demonstrates to me an agnosticism toward the type of institution in which a child receives their education. (If I had been asked about this situation I would have said the current state of traditional schools is appalling and needs to change immediately.)

The Superintendent's comment tells me that he does not really understand the value of competition to improve inner-city schools. A terrible admission that may slow fixing the educational malpractice now occurring in the nation's capital.

P.S. There is a charter school fair today from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the new Trinity University fitness center. I'll be at the WEDJ booth from about 11:30 a.m. to about 2:00 p.m. Stop by if you have a chance.

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