“but what shocked me to no end was what I heard about the current conditions at McFarland for Roosevelt students”

Photo from Roosevelt HS renovation via Department of General Services

From an email:

“Good Morning Neighbors,

Last night I attended the meeting at McFarland regarding Roosevelt’s delayed opening. They delays didn’t surprise me, but what shocked me to no end was what I heard about the current conditions at McFarland for Roosevelt students.

Our teens are being taught in an environment that no one should be expected to learn in, or teach in. According to the parents, students and staff present, the bathrooms don’t work, nor does the HVAC, there are not ample facilities for the athletics teams, and most shocking there is a rat infestation bad enough that the students have named the rats – Bigboy and Hunchback. I wrote an article about it that goes into more detail this morning that you can read here if you are so inclined.

In the meantime, I have also written to Mayor Bowser, Councilman Todd and Chancellor Henderson, imploring one simple thing: if you’re going to keep these kids in the McFarland building for another year, make the building habitable.

There is no reason these problems can’t be addressed over the summer, and our children deserve that. Please take a minute to lend your voice to this! I don’t have a current Roosevelt student, and I’m not sure at this point if my children will go there or not – it’s not about me or MY kids. We all, as a community, have a duty to ensure EVERY child receives a wonderful, quality education in a safe environment. It doesn’t matter if they are your children or not. There is power in numbers and we must use our power to help these kids.

I am asking you to reach out to the Mayor, the Council, DCPS, the media (if you have contacts) and anyone else that can help. Below is the letter I sent. Feel free to use it in part or whole or as a reference. I have zero pride of authorship here. I just want to see these kids treated right.

Thanks in advance, and please spread the word.

Lisa Jackson”

8 Comment

  • gotryit


    These are our kids in our community. This is our chance to stand up for their educational opportunities.

  • Anonomnom

    Really good job doing this, and thank you PoP for posting. I do not have kids, but went to DCPS when I was a kid and knew that some of the facilities were dicey, but nothing like this. Its unacceptable. PoP readers should start posting this on Bowser et al’s social media pages to see if they can get some sort of response/public attention.

    • CM Todd has already responded via the Petworth listserve, and has scheduled a walk-through with the Dep Mayor of Education and DGS. I was very much against Todd, but he has surprisingly been pretty responsive so far. Let’s hope he’s not just giving lip-service, but at least that’s still more than our previous CM gave.

      • I’d love to see where this stands a week from now. I sincerely hope he is effective at things like this.

  • This is appalling. It’s no wonder families leave DC when their kids get old enough for Jr High and Highschool.

  • I was at that meeting, too. It was so much more heated than I expected (because of the conditions of MacFarland that OP talked about). I had convinced myself that MacFarland was far better than Roosevelt — it’s exterior had been in much better shape. It seems I was mistaken.

    (Not to detract from the goal of making it better.) I’m curious what the current condition of MacFarland is relative to when middle schoolers where there (how much is about size of the people vs the simple condition of it all) — where middle schoolers subjected to the same thing — will they be again in 2018 when it reopens as a middle school? How does Roosevelt before it was closed compare?

    The biggest comment that hit me was “I keep hearing what you’re not doing.. but what are you doing for us?” It hit me because the first level is it led me down a line of thinking that the obvious answer is a new school, that’s what the city is doing. Duh. But then I realized how much of the effort was aimed at cutting off the current legacy to create a new one. I appreciate that doing that makes the opening much grander and can legitimately improve momentum, but that ignores the support the school has now and (much more) the students that are there now. A lot of things are aimed at that goal — getting an principal that won’t integrate with the school until the new one opens, prioritizing fixes at the new school and not MacFarland, delaying the opening so it coincides with the school year (DGS is hopeful that the school will be ready for the spring 2016, but DCPS intends to open the school in Fall 2016).

    I think all of these are reasonable and justifiable — for the new school and the students that will be there. The gap, and what the audience was very vocal about, was about the effect on the students that are there now.

    Also, I live across the street and can certainly here construction. The drilling has been loud in the morning. But, I fully support allowing and promoting extended work hours to make up for lost time. I imagine its already far too late, but if it helps, you have at least one neighbor’s support to be disruptive.

    • My kids graduated from Roosevelt in 2012, and the school just looked like a drab high school, but nothing like you all describe here. It was in dire need of renovation and was oddly configured, but the classrooms were ok (except really hot in the winter). The entrance was on the back side facing McFarland and was really inadequate because there was only on metal detector, so there was always a line to get into the school. The cafeteria was in the basement, and the library was run-down, but not horrible. It needed more books though. We were disappointed that they cut some of vocational programs (barbering school and later the very good culinary arts program). My kids had some good teachers though.

  • Bravo indeed. We in this community cannot afford to forget about the current state of our public schools. These institutions should be marvelous places – the crown jewels of the community, not afterthoughts. The more concern we show for the places where we and our neighbors live and learn today, these less violence we’ll see tomorrow.

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