Saturday, September 16, 2006

Clifford B. Janey's Plan and the Langauge of Losing

Supernintendo Janey has proposed an ambitious new plan for modernizing D.C. schools--a fifteen year plan that contemporizes facilities and curriculum. Janey's plan for DCPS calls for $2.3 billion that would build 23 schools, renovate 101 schools, and close 19 schools by 2019. A leaner system organized by campuses and clusters with 121 buildings instead of 146, more rigor in the curriculum, and the moon are proposed for the future District of Columbia.

My biggest concern with the plan, at least as it's reported in the WaPo, is that it is a correctional counterpunch to students who exit the system. There are real and harmful implications in a statement like: "Officials said they hope the modernization plan will help to stem the flow of students into charter and private schools."

Charter schools should be considered a functional arm of public schools rather than an enemy combatant. Private schools are not the enemy either. Any plan to slow or stop pupil exit from DCPS is indicative of the self preserving nature of public schools. This type of behavior reinforces negative portrayals of a portly and bureaucratic education system. The system should position itself as responsive to the needs of students and the community. DCPS sends a reactionary message--"we must beat those private and charter schools!"--when it should be sending a progressive message--"we must do for our students and the community the very best we can."

Keep the plan, tune the message.


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