If opening schools three weeks late in September due to roof repairs wasn’t bad enough, students at D.C. public schools now face the closings of seven schools for boiler repairs. It seems that no matter how much students complain about the state of their schools, the adults responsible refuse to listen. Instead of their concern being first and foremost the welfare of the students, they seem mainly concerned with battling egos. When will the childishness and irresponsibility end and accountability and reason begin?
Each week brings new squabbles in the war between the two major personalities involved – D.C. schools Chief Executive Julius Becton Jr. and D.C. Superior Court Judge Kaye Christian. Both claim responsibility for the welfare of the District’s public school system, Becton because of his appointment by the Finance Control Board; Christian because of the ongoing lawsuit by Parents United, a coalition of parents, against the school powers that be. While the two constantly go back and forth arguing about who has the authority to do what, those most hurt – the students – suffer from constantly searching for a place to learn. Instead of students being in a stable learning environment, they’re on a nomadic search for an education.
Perhaps hoping for an answer from the jumble of D.C. bureaucracies is the wrong approach. Maybe what is needed is a grassroots solution to the problem, or at least, an attempt at a solution. At the J.C. Nalle Elementary School in Southeast, 300 volunteers came together to clean up a school sorely needing attention. While programs such as D.C. Reads are likewise beneficial, students need a school system they can count on in which to learn to read.
If the future of D.C. students wasn’t being jeopardized, the entire soap opera saga would be humorous. But it is not a fantasy; it is reality. Students are suffering due to the never-ending mistakes of adults. Perhaps if more people got involved in helping out individual schools, things wouldn’t look so bleak. Neighborhoods and local businesses could adopt an area school and look after its maintenance. The solutions to the public schools mess will not come from bureaucrats; it will come from the community.