The Post has a Great Article on Clark Elementary School

Thanks to a reader for sending the link. The reader says: “This piece in today’s Post about Clark ES is about a Petworth school that’s closing, an excellent principal who Rhee, to her credit, is moving to Truesdell ES, which is being restructured. And it’s about a bittersweet ending of a school year. ”

I thought this paragraph from the piece was super sad: “Who will be my teachers?” one second-grader wrote. “I don’t want to go to another school because I love this school. If this school close I can’t go to my friend’s house. David and I can’t play about things we learn if my school is closed. I am going to miss Luis and Steven too.”

So what do folks think – are the closing of these schools sad but necessary or just sad? You can read the full story from the Post here.

13 Comment

  • Sad but necessary. Under-enolled schools are draining a system that alreadys has one of, if not the highest per pupil cost in the country. Credit to Fenty for having the balls to make the decision and putting the brakes on historic DC political inertia.

  • Does anybody remember when the feds convisted the former D.C. schools super, Mr. Lockridge? It was a sad case, with a sad ending, and it seems little has improved since he led our school system. I applaud the mayor for leaning on this sword, and hold my breath. The school system needs the shake up, and this article inspires to me to look for the dashboard that says how the schools are doing, collectively and individually. I am also curious about how the charters perform vis-a-vis the public schools. I hope the reforms truly improve the education available to our young citizens, and entice thousands of young families back into the district. Let’s keep an eye on the E.L. Haynes school just down from the Looking Glass, which I think it will be open in the next few months.

  • It is definitely sad, but I wholeheartedly agree that it is absolutely necessary. There has been a lot of contention about specific buildings being closed, but the fact of the matter is that no one is happy when their school is the one closing. No matter what school and no matter what quadrant of the city, there is going to be someone who feels the way this young man did due to personal connections, emotions, and memories they have.

    What is troubling to me are the angry “activists” and parents who make matters worse. They shouldn’t be applauding kids for chastising Rhee for making tough decisions and they shouldn’t get young people riled up into thinking the system doesn’t care about them. Rather, they need to convey the message that they will be able to create new memories and friends at their new school. Just my two cents…

  • I was the reader who called this article to Prince’s attention and I’m so glad he printed it. He could have used my name, but that’s OK. Clark is being closed because it met the criteria Rhee and her team set forth, when they went about deciding which schools were to close. Most importanly, it had more than average declining enrollment over a specific period. Additionally, neighborhood kids could walk to other nearby schools including Truesdell ES (being restructured), brand new Barnard and a few others. Clark has never been a school that many middle class families new to Petworth choose, so it didn’t benefit from Petworth’s boom. It is sad, but the principal’s touch of having a party with sparkling apple cider looking like champage, and wearing a tuxedo, was clever. I’m looking forward to seeing how he performs at Truesdell ES, whether he can turn it around. BTW, several years ago in Petworth, the old Petworth ES, now a police substation, was closed, its staff scattered and its students reassigned. So closing schools isn’t something new under Rhee.

  • Necessary. And sad for the kids, for the time being. They’ll get over it though. It’s not like their families are being taken from them. Kids can deal with changes like this. I don’t really see what the big deal is, or why the reporter presented the emotions of a 2nd grader as some sort of community barometer. Of course he’s sad and wants to draw a picture about it. He’s probably also sad when he has to do his chores or get a shot at the Dr’s office. That’s how kids work, no?

    Would be a lot more sad to do nothing.

  • I’ve done some volunteer work in the schools, and let me tell you-radical surgery is needed. I’ve often wondered how one implements radical change in a conservative town-and I think the answer is “quickly”.

  • More power to Chencellor Rhee. Besides, I think she is cute!

  • I am actively involved in the schools and what’s the saddest to me is that the teachers feel threatened by this rather than energized.

    Closing 23 schools is amazing. I have a spreadsheet with the numbers from a Post article and there were some schools where less than 20% of the kids were passing no child left behind. I can understand 60 or 70% passing, but only 20%!!! Some schools were built for 600 or 700 kids but had 300 or 400 students.

    I truly believe that in about 18 months we will start to see real change in the City schools.

    But the teachers, man, they will deny it until the end, but this is really their fault.

  • I’m a current DCPS teacher and live in Petworth. I must respond to the above post, which isn’t too far off the mark. Yes, a lot of it is teachers’ fault. Hovever, at my school and my children’s school we have committed, hard-working and inspired educators instructing day in and day out. Many schools in DC don’t. Many teachers are in it for the paycheck and stay because they couldn’t get jobs anywhere else. They aren’t in teaching to impart knowledge, because they want to change the world, they love kids, or believe in the importance of education. It’s their ticket to the middle class and a good government job with benefits and it’s hard to fired from it. Many of these teachers don’t like the kids, believe in them and are just marking time. Goldbricking, to quote a former colleague.

    I want to clarify several things to those of you who aren’t in education. Making AYP (adequate yearly progress) is mandated for all schools by federal legislation in the form of the No Child Left Behind Act). It consists of having around 55% or more of the students attain the level of proficient on whatever standardized assessment a school district uses. DCPS uses the DC CAS. Proficient is one level below advanced. Proficient only indicates that a student is in fact proficient in grade level reading and math. To be below proficient (basic or below basic) means students struggle with grade level reading comprehension, understanding vocabulary and understanding and being to solve grade level math problems.

    Teachers are against Rhee for various reasons. Several think that she wants to get rid of long term black teachers and replace them with Teach For America types, most of whom are idealistic whites, recent college graduates with good intentions and little experience, especially teaching urban kids. Since Rhee comes from an offshoot of TFA, called the New Teachers Project, those teachers may not be too far off the mark.

  • I am a parent with a kid at Oyster/Adams. I agree with the teacher above that there are dedicated and competent teachers who are doing great things in DC and go mainly unrecognized.

    I am all for change – in fact radical change – but some of the change doesn’t make sense to me. The Oyster/Adams principal was fired in the schools shake-up. It is one of the highest performing schools in the city and a national model for bilingual ed. The principal was instrumental in getting us a bilingual middle school program – in fact we had 2 previous principals who could not do the same.

    A group of dissatisfied parents had undue influence on this decision. I believe that parents should be involved in their kids educations, but really how much influence should they have on the actual administrative running of the school? Isn’t that why we have education experts? And, moreover, why are they messing with high-performing schools? It seems to me that they need to concentrate efforts elsewhere.

  • Just because Oyster is “high-performing” does not mean there is no room for improvement. I think it is a great example of a good school that has all the potential to be an excellent school with more effective leadership. To echo the teacher in this post, there are many excellent teachers in this city and some decent schools. With a little push and greater accountability, these decent schools can become excellent schools and that’s what DC has been lacking ever since i was a kid.

  • Right, but we need to set priorities and the priority should be those that really need help.

  • I agree, but there has to be a balance. The pressure is on to make DC schools comparable to other systems in the country. I think it is important that improvements are made across the board. It will take several years for some schools to improve because they are presently in such a bad state. While changes are being done there to make those schools better, there should also be attention paid to the schools that have been doing a decent job to make them even better as well. Eventually, or at least ideally, every school will become a high-performing school.

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