Photo by SheffTim on Flickr.
This article was posted as an April Fool’s joke.
Building on its successful effort to consolidate schools, DC Public Schools announced a new round of school closures. The new policy, tentatively named “One City, One School, will combine all city elementary schools into one campus, removing the wasteful overhead of running multiple elementary schools.
Last year’s “Quality Schools” report by consulting group IFF recommended closing schools that perform in the lowest tier of average test scores. “We realized that following this algorithm year after year would ultimately lead to fewer and fewer schools,” said school chancellor Henry Kaiderson, “so we decided to jump right to the logical conclusion and save the hassle of multiple unpleasant rounds of closures.”
DC Public Schools currently services over 20,000 students in 65 elementary schools, operating in all eight city wards. However, this forces them to duplicate many services such as foreign language, reading, and special education across multiple schools.
One School will provide centralized school resources, saving on excessive duplication. As individual school budgets were cut in recent years, many schools lost a full time librarian, and in some case any librarian at all. School officials promised One School will have a librarian on site at least three days a week.
Additionally, One School will have 3 art teachers, 3 science teachers, and 3 music teachers. They will be backed up with 132 testing coaches, who will help students prepare for their annual DC-CAS testing regime, said DCPS spokesperson Melanie Tilapiowitz.
Some parents say One School has strengthened their faith in DCPS. “When my husband and I had our first child, we were worried about whether we would have a good local school or be able to win a space in a better school through the lottery,” said Brookland parent Melissa Derringer. “Now, we’re confident that our kids will be able to attend DC’s highest-ranked school.”
Empower DC expressed cautious optimism. “We’re excited at the potential of a school that gives every DCPS student, rich or poor, white or black, an equal, inclusive education,” said attorney Barney Johns. “If we knew all it took was putting them all into one giant school, we wouldn’t have protested all those school closings.”
No site has been definitively identified yet, but city officials are quietly discussing renovating RFK Stadium. Negotiations for a new stadium for DC United must be completed first, and officials indicate that retrofitting RFK as a school could be part of that deal.
Enclosing the 300 and 400 level would provide classrooms for the school. Each section would house another class, embracing the “open classroom” movement. Obviously, any school on the site would have to be immediately vacated if the Redskins ever decide to think about possibly returning to Washington or even using the building as a warehouse for excess sports equipment.
There are drawbacks to the RFK site, however. It’s well known that test scores are higher farther west in DC, especially west of Rock Creek Park. School officials feel that students may learn better at a site in Ward 3.