Why in the world would a newly renovated school have malfunctioning plumbing? If you suspect corruption, I’m with you. According to the City Paper, between 2000 and 2013, the District spent more than $1.2 billion on school modernization. Yet auditors could not find evidence that $168,997,484 worth of expenses had been approved. City Paper quotes the audit as surmising that “the District may have paid fraudulent or inaccurate invoices.”
Anacostia High School’s enrollment is 100 percent minority and 100 percent poor. If these students are to have any shot at a decent life, they need to earn at least a high school diploma. Yet only 19 percent of seniors are on track to graduate this year. Is it all the responsibility of the public school system? Clearly not. These kids come overwhelmingly from disadvantaged neighborhoods and single-parent families. Their environments are characterized by disorder, crime and drug abuse.
But if parents, religious leaders and, yes, community activists were serious about confronting this decades-long disaster, they would look to what works. There are schools in D.C. with healthy graduation rates, followed by college attendance. Some are regular public schools, but more are charters.
It’s appalling that the plumbing failed at Anacostia High, but the far greater travesty is the non-education it is providing to the neediest kids. Schools should be launching pads, not sinkholes.
Writes for Creators Syndicate.