February 9, 2006

EDUCATION ISSUE. We're happy that the notion of cost containment dominated the DC Council's discussion earlier this week. Unfortunately, the green eyeshaders set the tone over the stadium lease debate and not the school modernization debate.

Modernizing schools is laudable, but DC has a very poor history of managing public resources, in particular the schools. March Fisher points to a story he wrote in the 1980's to illustrate how deeply rooted the incompetence is. But not all, new schools have produced mediocre results. Look at Oyster School in Woodley Park.

The DC Bubble hopes that the $100 million a year in sales tax revenue dedicated to renovations and expansions of the school system will not be a colossal waste. It unnerving that the modernization bill has passed before the school masterplan has been issued by Superintendent Clifford Janey. As many have acknowledged as well, there are way too many public schools as it is. Spending money on modernization is a good thing, but spending money will not solve the problem of dilapidated schools. Only good management will fix that.

A SO-SO GRADE WAS GIVEN to the DC public school system by the Council of the Great City Schools for the way it manages the system. The assessment by the coalition of large urban public shcool systems says "the school district manages its resources far better than it used to, but not as well as it could." Weaknesses include: inadequate internal controls, poor staff training, weak procedures, redundant processes, poor position control, and out-of-date technology. Yeah lets give them a $100 million per year.

More generally, the report said: "It is too soon to tell whether the new reforms will yield academic results, but the city seems determined not to let its latest opportunity to improve schools fall into the trash heap of good intentions. The district, for its part, is making progress on the number of schools attaining Adequate Yearly Progress. There is reason to be hopeful, but it will need to rethink how it uses it resources if it ultimately wants better academic results."

PARTNERSHIP WILL MODERNIZE SCHOOL WITHOUT WALLS in Foggy Bottom. The George Washington Universtiy and the school, which actully has walls at 2130 G St. NW, agreed to let GWU build student housing on a parking lot and to renovate and expand the school.

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