Tuesday, February 28, 2006

D.C. School Superintendent's Fatal Conceit 

The school superintendent has been working on his master plan for a year. And what is the answer to fixing the worst public school system in the nation? More control by the central administration.

Dion Haynes of the Washington Post explains Mr. Janey's proposal this way:

Janey said he targeted under-performing high schools for his plan to offer more specialized courses of study. Under his proposal, Eastern Senior High School in Northeast would become the District of Columbia Latin School, focusing on studies in the humanities and foreign languages and modeled on the elite Boston Latin School, which Janey attended.

Spingarn, in Northeast, would become a boarding school for students interested in construction trades; Cardozo, in Northwest, a "trans-tech" school for the study of transportation and aeronautics; Ballou, in Southeast, a media and communications school; and Anacostia, in Southeast, a health and medical sciences school.
So what if a particular school does not want to focus on transportation and aeronautics? I guess it's too bad. You must do as the puppeteer tells you to do. By the way, I didn't see a performing arts school on the list. I guess this is not important to his honor so it can't matter to families and students.

I predict failure. The only way to do this kind of thing correctly is to allow each school the freedom to innovate as they see fit. Instead of using the 90 million dollars annually to support his plan the superintendent could give out entrepreneur awards to schools that come up with a viable plan to be a center of excellence. Better yet, give 9,000 students a 10,000 voucher to use at the private school of their choice.

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