15 January 2008

School Closing Hearings and Links

By now you likely know about the consolidated school closure hearings on Thursday, January 17 [pdf], and "The People's Meeting" co-sponsored by Councilmembers Thomas and Barry. Whichever you choose, if you are able to make it to one of the meetings on Thursday, you will be making an impact.

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Ward 5 schools to be closed (in parentheses) and their meeting locations:

· Taft Recreation Center (Burroughs ES), 1800 Perry Street NE

· Brookland ES (Bunker Hill ES), 1150 Michigan Avenue NE

· LaSalle ES (Backus MS), 501 Riggs Road NE

· Eastern SHS (M.M. Washington SHS), 1700 East Capitol Street NE

· Kelly Miller MS (Douglass and Taft CHOICE Academies and Centers), 301 49th Street NE

· Emery ES (J.F. Cook ES), 1720 1st Street NE

· Noyes ES (Slowe ES), 2725 10th Street NE

· Cleveland ES (Gage-Eckington ES), 1825 8th Street NW (Gage-Eckington is in Ward 1, just outside Ward 5)

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Some links relevant to Ward 5 and DCPS:

» Save John Burroughs DC - Friends of John Burroughs Elementary
John Burroughs proudly ranks 15 out of all 81 DC Public Schools in Reading and 12 out of 81 in Math. Our enrollment is 244 and rising - we are only 7% away from full enrollment!!!....Save this model school from closure.

» "School closings plan draws opposition" - Examiner, Wednesday, January 15
“What [Burroughs Elementary School] has accomplished is incredible given the few resources it has,” said Gary Spinner, whose granddaughter is in second grade. “We were in the process to petition the mayor and chancellor for more support; in turn, we found out we would be closed.”

Spinner and other Burroughs representatives touted the fact that the school is ranked 15th out of 81 citywide in reading and that its standardized test scores last year rose by double digits. Enrollment also has been going up, they said, making it the wrong time for closure.

Chancellor Michelle Rhee has explained that the 23 schools suggested for closure were chosen mainly for building occupancy, rather than test scores or overall program quality. That numbers-driven approach was challenged Monday.

» "One DC Public School Has Fewer Than 100 Students" - WUSA9, Monday, January 14
When Principal Pat Mabry came to Slowe Elementary, the neighborhood school at 14th and Jackson Streets in Northeast had 619 students. Today, Slowe's student enrollment has plummeted to only 84 students.

There are only five classes held in the entire building for DC public school students.

DC School Chancellor Michelle Rhee pointed 9NEWS NOW to Slowe Elementary as example of why up to 23 school buildings have been put on a proposed list for closing.

This has nothing to do with academic performance. It has everything to do with what the city is paying for unused space; staffing, utility and maintenance costs.

Principal Mabry isn't fighting the closing; but she and her parents don't like the plan to send Slowe students to a nearby school where students have been beefing with Slowe's young people.

» "Fixing D.C.'s Schools" - Washington Post investigative series, multiple parts posted since June 2007

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