Tuesday, November 22, 2005

We Are Playing Games With Our Future 

Several articles in today's Washington Post clearly document that we as a society are not serious about fixing what's wrong with our public schools.

First up, Nick Anderson says that under the administration of education secretary Margaret Spellings rules behind the No Child Left Behind Law are being eased to provide states greater flexibility in meeting Adequate Yearly Progress. Please read the article and see if you don't agree with me that it proves that the federal government is now running every school district in this country.

Next, Dion Haynes reveals that to the great collective relief of many Wilson High School has decided that it will not convert to a charter school in return for a bribe from D.C. school superintendent Janey for more autonomy. This piece reveals a subliminal Berlin Wall of discrimination against charter schools in the nation's capital, even as 25% of its families have fled for their children's lives away from traditional schools.

Lastly, we have Marc Fisher scared to death that proposals to create a new fund to fix the deplorable physical condition of D.C. public schools will match previous efforts in that we may as well take the money and throw it into the Potomac River. In the column Mr. Fisher points out that D.C. has enough capacity for the 146,000 students it taught in 1970 despite the fact that today there are only 59,000 kids enrolled in the system. His answer is to sell the properties to developers, even though a charter school leader would probably give up one of their own children for one of these buildings. Marc, don't you remember the day at the Lincoln Theater when you attended the first graduating class of the Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School for Public Policy and the tear-jerking column you wrote about what an unbelievable difference the school was making in the lives of these young adults? Could you not support efforts such as this for just one minute?

16 years ago the Brookings Institution published the book "Politics, Markets, and American Schools," by John Chubb and Terry Moe. After reviewing over 500 schools and talking to 20,000 students, principals and teachers they concluded that the "political institutions that govern America's schools function naturally and routinely, despite everyone's best intentions, to burden the schools with excessive bureaucracy, to inhibit effective organization, and to stifle student achievement." When are we going to wake up to the reality that the we will only have high performing schools when government gets out of the education business?

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