January 7, 2006

Weekend Flash

GENTLEMAN'S C FOR DC, MD, VA SCHOOLS: While public elementary, middle and high schools all received the same middling grades in Education Week magazine's 10th annual examination of state educational policymaking, the survey only underscores DC Bubble's conclusion that middle and high schools are the problem in DC and that elemantary schools in NW (plus a few others) are as good as those in the suburbs.

That said, none of the jurisdictions should be satisifed with their grades in the "C" range. Not so smug Virginia and Maryland educators and parents, students with only a C average these days go to schools, like the Universtiy of the District of Columbia, and not elite institutions like Georgetown University. DC parents should think twice before relocating to the suburbs "becuase of the schools."

Of course comparing the whole state of Virginia and Maryland with DC is unfair because the best schools schools in those states are located in the DC suburbs. So Maryland schools only gets a C+ but the schools of Montogomery Country probably would get a higher grade on their own.

By the same token, the elementary schools in NW DC too probably would do better than a C- minus if they were broken out from the whole. Rule of thumb: the right public elementary school in DC is as good as most public elementary schools in the suburbs.

PLENTY OF ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: DC schools scored below average for three of the four graded policy categories in EW report. No grade was given for one the category -- resource equity -- because it is not relavant to our "state."

In standards and accountability, DC performs "slightly below average," EW said. DC "lags behind in assessment largely because it does not have tests aligned to its academic standards in science or social studies."

In teacher quality, DC scores "well below the national average in , in part, because it does not require all aspiring high school and middle school teachers to have a college major or a minor in the subjects they will teach." DC also provides little professional support for new or veteran teachers and has enacted few measures related to accountability for teacher quality.

In school climate, DC is struggling in the areas of school safety and parent involvement. However, the District fares much better on measures of school size, with a far higher percentage of its students attending smaller schools compared with the nation as a whole, EW said. Safety is more of an issue as kids get older, i.e. middle and high school students.

One Liners

GOODBYE MCI CENTER. Hello Verizon Center. Name change will take place at the end of March.

HIGHER TAXI FARES GO INTO AFFECT MONDAY. The $1.50 gasoline surcharge expires, but underlying fares rise.

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