Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Just Give Us The Space 

V. Dion Haynes has a story in today's Washington Post regarding the fact that new D.C. School Superintendent Clifford Janey has got around to noticing that he can hear the echo of his own voice in many of his public school buildings. Seems that he has a product that parents really don't want as evidenced by the fact that they are fleeing as fast as they can to charter schools or voucher-participating private schools.

So now the Superintendent wants to do us a favor and rent the empty space to those involved in the charter school movement. No thanks. How much harder do you want to make it for us? For years we have had to find room in places where I would never want to have my kids educated, such as in warehouses or church basements which were never intended to be schools. Then we have to compete for property in the red-hot commercial real estate market and pay exorbitant prices for classrooms lacking proper heat and air conditioning. Next you want to hand over dilapidated surplus D.C. schools and tell us that we should be eternally gratefully for the opportunity to bust our budgets on renovations that the school system was negligent in doing for decades. Enough is enough.

Can someone please whisper in the Superintendent's ear that charters are public schools? As public schools we are entitled to a facility. Renting a building does little for us as the city could evict us at the end of a lease. No bank lending officer is going to give charters money to fix a property they don't own. Why would they? Someone needs to inform me how our movement can create stable long term high quality institutions of learning if we don't have permanent homes.

Mr. Janey please do the right thing. Turn your surplus buildings over to charter schools. Allow us to use our facility allowance to correct the serious problems with them. Stop treating charters as second class schools in this City. Your customers are telling you that your priorities are reversed.

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