Washington D.C.’s Education Problem

With my free time these days, I have been watching some education documentaries. Mary and I watched Waiting for Superman, which wasn’t as good as I had been told, but still a decent watch. An even better flick I watched was The Cartel a documentary by former Bloomberg report Bob Bowdon. If you are from New Jersey, you must watch that one.

Because of this, in recent days I have thought a lot about education policy. When flipping the channels this morning, I ended up watching “It’s Academic” on NBC 4. Three teams were competing. In alphabetical order, Anacostia, Wash. DC, Chantilly, Virginia, and Washington-Lee, Virginia.

Who do you suppose won? Who do you suppose did the worst? We’ll get back to that later.

But in the audience was Vince Gray, whom I think is a horrible mayor. Quietly campaigning against former Mayor Adrian Fenty, using the teachers’ unions and stirring up racial resentment against as lighter skinned mayor and a visionary school reformer who happens to be Asian.  Everyone in the metro area knows what Vince Gray did. And there he is in the audience, stirring up a visceral reaction in me. Unfortunately, D.C. will continue to kowtow to the teachers’ unions in Rhee’s absence, slowly undoing the good she did during her time there.

Education takes time, so I am going to tell you the results now with this caveat: I don’t blame Anacostia’s third place finish on Mayor Gray. But 10 years from now, I will likely see those D.C. schools not just placing third, but placing dead last with few points, blowout style.

Final Score:

1.) Chantilly -535

2. Washington Lee — 510

3.) Anacostia –455

The real point of this is that it’s sad that this will likely happen, but we know it could have been prevented. School reform is a lot more than “just give them more money.” D.C. is ground zero of doing that. So is New Jersey. If you look at their results, you’ll see that school funding is but a very small cog in the results of performing schools. Most places get more for significantly lower spending levels, except, well, in New Jersey and D.C.

 

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