I went on the record back in May in support of D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson's five-year plan to boost achievements of the District's public schools.
It was clear that closing under-enrolled schools was a key element in the plan to raise the math and reading proficiency rates, graduation rates and the overall performance of the poorest performing schools in the system. The thinking was that the money spent to operate schools that were grossly under-enrolled would be used to achieve these goals.
Now that Chancellor Henderson has announced which schools will close at the end of the current school year, it's now time for the chancellor to answer two key questions.
1. What is the cost to close the 20 schools?
Back in 2008 when Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty closed 23 schools, the price tag for closing the schools was grossly understated.
2. What are the real savings that will come from closing the 20 schools? And exactly how will those savings be allocated?
Before parents can buy into the decision to close their neighborhood schools, they must have a clear sense as to what impact the closures will have on their children's educational experience. Will they see more teachers hired? Improved teacher to student ratios? More technology driven teaching improvements? Many parents and community activists have not been persuaded by Henderson that this plan makes sense.
Even worse, many parents feel that the Council hearings on school closures that allowed for public input represents, according to one parent, nothing more than "checking a box" on parental input.
Chancellor Henderson has promised to not repeat the past when it came to this round of schools closings. Henderson, in response to questions from the City Council as to why this process will be any different that the last round of closings, said, "Don't listen to what I say. Watch what I do."
What Henderson needs to do is lay out the complete closure plan so that the parents and students affected know what they are getting in return for closing their neighborhood schools.
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
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