On the bus to Georgetown, going down P Street I gazed at the rear end of Shaw Jr. High, thinking, “gawd what an ugly building, tear that d@mned thing down.” However, I don’t think that will come anytime soon, as it is the school that gives our lovely hood its name. And regardless of the quality of the school people will fight to keep it open.
This weekend over on the Eckington Listserv frequent list contributer Ted McGinn made an excellent argument in support of some school closures. Here’s just the start (because the rest is too long):
We cannot continue to postpone taking the bitter medicine of school reform. When an elementary school’s enrollment falls to 200 or less students, the weighted student formula will not pay for all the bells and whistles of an excellent education. A trend of the declining school age population in many of our neighborhoods together with the draining of the pool of available students into charter schools has left us with grossly under enrolled schools. These schools in many cases have significant infrastructure issues including broken heating/AC systems, leaking roofs, poor plumbing and high maintenance costs. We fired Janey because he allegedly moved too slowly in addressing these pressing concerns. If you recall he had plans for closing schools as well, co-locating to fill buildings and creating school model programs such as K-8th grade to test which direction DCPS should head in for the future. Under Janey, we made our High Schools 9th thru 12th grade and redefined our middle schools as sixth grade thru eighth. There was such a backlash from the public and others about removing 6th grade from elementary schools that DCPS postponed it until the 08/09 school year.
I don’t know the numbers for Shaw Jr. High, but I do know that the regular public schools give some parents and guardians pause for thought. The middle class parents I know have shuffled their school aged kids into some excellent charter schools or considered how nice the public schools are in MD or VA, and moved accordingly. I’m not going to demonize charter schools, because right now they are the thing keeping people I like from moving.
Anyway, back to the late mid-century building that is Shaw Jr. High. In my morning pondering on the bus, I imagined bulldozers going at it and leveling the land and replacing it with a park with a nice big statue of Robert Gould Shaw in the middle.