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What Can The Washington DC Schools Teach Us

A mix of political power and extreme poverty, the Washington DC Public Schools face a struggle that epitomizes the state of education in this country. While the elite and affluent live in the best districts, or send their children to private schools, many students in the Washington, DC Schools function in poverty and need.

Why does this matter? The discrepancy between the haves and have-nots in the Washington, DC Schools mimics that which has led to the glaring racial achievement gap in the country. Recently, studies reporting on the gap percentages in all states have gotten a lot of attention. Also, reports on the correlation between income and achievement have received a lot of press. Although I don't think any jaws are dropping; the question for Washington, DC schools isn't if poverty leads to low achievement, it's what to do about it.

Methods in the Washington, DC Schools

The initiatives that the Washington, DC Schools implement are an important barometer for the rest of the schools in the country. If efforts work, they will be duplicated. If they fail, it is a cause for concern, and considered a waste of money. Vouchers are one big issue. Due to declining enrollment in the Washington, DC public schools, and a desire to offer school choice to low-income students, a federal program offering $7,500 school vouchers was offered to needy students in the Washington, DC Schools.

Not everyone is fond of this method because they are afraid it will actually encourage more students to leave the Washington, DC Schools for charter or private schools. Many feel this could degrade the quality of the system. Ironically, this is the same concern when affluent and educated families leave the public school system. The Washington, DC Schools loose both per pupil funding and the most involved parents when this happens. Vouchers may exacerbate the situation.

However, this may be just the thing to motivate schools to improve. Just like in business, competition can be a good thing.

Needed Construction in Washington, DC Schools

Washington, DC Schools are also a mirror to the nation is in terms of adequate space and buildings. As old schools deteriorate, the district is challenged to renovate them. Recently, this became a focus of the district. 120 schools are either being renovated or built at this time. Part of the effort involves reconfiguring these Washington, DC Schools for better efficiency. For instance, feeder 6-8 middle schools are being put on campuses with the appropriate high school. The location of administrative offices and special education facilities are being reconsidered to make better use of the space, and to better meet the children's needs. Other districts around the country are following the results of these changes closely. The successes and failures of the Washington, DC Schools will have consequences felt by a lot of students in the nation.
About Author John Harris :

Washington DC Public Schools Patricia Hawke is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. For more information please visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>

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Article Added on Monday, August 13, 2007
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