Fenty tackles the District’s failing schools: Wash. Examiner

Failing schools? Failing school system? Fire the school board and takeover the schools. Many mayors and county leaders around the county are doing just that, firing their elected school boards and doing the jobs themselves.

In the District of Columbia,  newly-elected Mayor Adrian Fenty has acquired a hot potato, for the DC public schools are structurally-challenged. See this Washington Examiner article. Read this excerpt:

Mayor Adrian Fenty handily won control of the District of Columbia’s failing schools, but a growing number of school experts and city officials — even his staunch supporters — wonder whether he knows what he has gotten himself into.

“The question is not just understanding the problems, but understanding how to fix them,” said Mary Levy, an attorney who monitors the schools for the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. “I see no evidence — yet, at any rate — that he understands how to fix them. I hope I’m wrong.”

District Council Member Tommy Wells, D-Ward 6, is a former member of the Board of Education. He supported Fenty’s takeover plan, but he said he hopes that the mayor understands that taking over is only the tiniest of first steps.

“It’s not just making the trains run on time,” Wells said. “What we need is something radically different.”

The problems in the schools are immense:

» There are more than 13,000 uncompleted work orders to fix crumbling school buildings.

» Schools lack basic supplies, from desks to toilet paper.

» Many students don’t graduate; many who go to college do not do well.

» Test scores are abysmal.

» Three-quarters of the schools have tested positive for elevated levels of lead in drinking water.

» The special-education department is more than $20 million over its budget, and the inspector general is investigating ghost payrolls and overpayments in the department.

» The schools have been rated a high risk for federal funds because of shoddy accounting.

“The system suffers from a general managerial malaise,” Levy said. “The system also suffers from a general culture of fear and negativity, both internal and external.”

E.C. 🙂

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