Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Smooth First Day For DCPS? 

Washington Post reporters Michael Birnbaum and Bill Turque say it was a "smooth first day" for District of Columbia public schools yesterday. But then you read the article:

Perhaps the most serious situation unfolded at Powell Education Center in Northwest Washington, where parents said they were prevented by school administrators from meeting teachers. Dolores Gomez, a parent, said there was considerable confusion at the school, with class lists unavailable and staff behaving in a rude and uncooperative manner. About 9 a.m., staff members ordered about 20 parents to leave. "They tried to get us out of the building," said Blanca Perez, the mother of a preschooler " We were doing nothing bad, like screaming. We were just trying to wait until the children were safe."

There were significant teacher shortages at two high schools, Anacostia and Dunbar, and school administrators and teachers union officials offered conflicting explanations. Officials said Anacostia had 14 absent teachers and Dunbar had seven.

An Anacostia teacher, who asked not to be identified for fear of getting into trouble with superiors, said the scheduling issues were compounded by changes in the building's room numbers. "It is utter chaos here," the teacher said. "I think the ninth-grade students are suffering the most."

At mid-morning, a false fire alarm sent hundreds of Coolidge High School students streaming onto the athletic fields. D.C. State Board of Education member Mary Lord, who was visiting the school at the time, said the evacuation was orderly. Through a loudspeaker, Principal L. Nelson Burton told students that he would review security tapes and punish whoever was responsible. Within five to 10 minutes, students were back in class, Lord said.
At least there were books.

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