The Daily Feed

Less Money for Kids, Higher Taxes for You

‘The puzzled and the sad.’
courtesy of ‘Gin Fizz’

The Washington Post is reporting that D.C. schools will be losing $30 million in funding in FY2010 and smokers will be paying another 50 cents a pack for cigarettes. Among other tax increases and several other service cuts, these changes will become a reality assuming Mayor Fenty signs the latest revised budget that was just recently approved by the city council. He is expected to sign it, despite his original 2006 campaign promises of not raising taxes. But who campaigns saying they’re going to raise taxes anyway? And who can predict a nasty recession that kills city revenues and causes a $666 million budget gap? (Wait…$666 million? Surely Lucifer had something to do with this…)

The general sales tax is increasing by .25% on the dollar to an even 6% and gas prices will be going up a bit as this revised budget also increases the gas tax by 3.5 cents a gallon. About $350 million worth of service cuts had to be made for this budget, which includes significant funding cuts for social services like Bread for the City.

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Life in the Capital, Petworth, The District

We Love: DC’s Public Charter Schools

What would an all Public Charter School system look like?

What would an all Public Charter School system look like?

While I’ve heard the moaning about the DC Public School System since my first days in DC, I never really cared about it. I was a swinging single and my whole goal was to keep away from anything kid-related, though many would say I acted child-like.

But now that I’m soon to be a parent, I am thinking more about my child’s future education, and as a District resident, the schooling options. Looking around, I see a lot of promises broken and lives wasted in the DC Public School system, yet hope with Public Charter Schools.

So I propose a radical change: Let’s ditch the failing public schools for a fully Public Charter School System.

Here we have one of the highest-cost, lowest performing public education systems in the United States, and our city government is expending untold millions of dollars and political capital to fix. The problems are myriad, and all of them, from lack of parental involvement to aimless youth, to an entrenched & bloated bureaucracy, seemingly intractable.

Faced with this boondoggle, parents are desperate for options and have already created a parallel system to educate their children. Over 40% of parents send their children to Public Charter Schools, and I would argue that they are the 40% that care about their child’s education. In addition, Public Charter Schools are doing a better job of educating at less cost. And almost all require greater parental involvement, student motivation, and teacher engagement than public schools.

I know that when my child gets to be school age, they’ll be headed off to a cool bilingual charter elementary school – we now have several schools to choose from in Petworth, some more convenient than others.

So why not take all taxpayer & Gates Foundation money that’s currently going down the public school rathole, and put it towards an all-charter school system? We could save the the DC government a few billion a year and give a better education to the city’s children.

Or look at it another way: could a fully Public Charter School system really be worse than what we have now?

People, The Daily Feed

RIP Jerome Jones

Jerome Jones was the first African-American superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools from 1983 to 1990, hailed by many as one who extended new opportunities to women and people of color in the SLPS. More recently he left retirement to teach here in DC, at Howard University, where he founded the Department of Educational and Administrative Policy. He was about to move on to become Dean of Academic Affairs at University of the Virgin Islands at St. Croix — when he was hit by an SUV while crossing a street on June 26th. He died on July 4th, just three days after his 71st birthday.

I mention this because it turns out that all this time, Mr. Jones was my neighbor and I didn’t know it. He lived in my apartment building, and I would greet him frequently, though I knew him only as “that guy I see in the lobby who’s always going out jogging.” Only the day after he was hit by that SUV did I learn who he was, and only yesterday did I learn of his death.

Sad, sad passing of a neighbor whom I would have liked to know better. May he rest in peace.