Church Survey 1957: Turner Memorial AME- Random Church Not in Shaw

Turner Memorial AME is not in Shaw. It was at 600 Eye Street NW in 1957. It is currently in PG County Maryland. As you may know the synagogue at 6th and I is there, and according to their history page, Turner AME was at 5th and P St (a Shaw church?) and bought the synagogue in 1951. In 2002 Turner AME put the church building up for sale.

Quick look at the survey page, it was a large Black church where half of the members were unskilled laborers. So a working class African-American church. The survey says it was at 5th and D, but the Turner Memorial website says it was founded in 1919 at 5th and P, so let’s go with that.

CS 54 Turner Memorial AME by on Scribd

3rd Annual Health Fair- July 28th

Last year there was a very nice vegetarian spread. I write this as unapologetic meat eater. Anyway, heads up there will be a big ole health fair on the 1600 block of 4th St NW on July 28th.

Health Fair FlierAs I remember there was a professional masseuse last year for the massages. And there is a lot of fair stuff- face painting, moon bounce, etc.

The big deal about the fair is that the three sponsors, 4th St Fellowship, Mt. Sinai, and Masjid Muhammad would all have health fairs at different times. So for the past couple years they combined their powers, to create the biggest Truxton Circle health fair, ever. I’ll be there, mainly to nosh on free vegetarian food.

Church Survey 1957:Church of the Holy City- Random Church Not in Shaw

I have a few of these, churches outside of Shaw but part of the larger Northwest Urban Renewal Project Area. Notable notes are that Church of the Holy City at 1611 16th St NW was a white church in 1957 and kinda small. The congregants who showed up on an average Sunday was 60. Being white, not a lot of members lived in the survey area (the Northwest Urban Renewal Area), half lived in other parts of DC and the other half lived out in the burbs.

CS-57-Church of the Holy City by on Scribd

 

 

Crime of Opportunity- Just a few seconds

I have a superpower, it is finding money on the ground. I cannot summon money, it would be absolutely awesome if I could. This superpower comes from constantly scanning the ground. I’m looking for poop, so I can avoid stepping in it. And while I’m keeping an eye out for poop, and spit, I’ll see money, or a SmartTrip card with money on it.

I also spot other things.

This weekend I spotted a purse, with a cell phone sticking out sitting on the sidewalk. It was next to an SUV, where a mother was doing something on the opposite side (out of view of her purse) on the 1500 block of 7th St NW. Her husband was about 2 car lengths away for some reason. He showed up when we pointed out to her that her purse was just… sitting there. I spotted the purse ahead as we walked past Compass Coffee. She waved off our concerns. This is why I don’t say things or point things out to people. Y’all obviously don’t care that if I’ve noticed that you left your car keys or house keys in the lock, or your laptop in the backseat (seriously people stop leaving your electronics in your car) or left your bike unlocked (yes, you’re popping in for one second). But if I’ve noticed, someone else who is more willing to walk off with your (keys, laptop, bike) stuff has too.

Yes, you are just leaving it there for a second. But it doesn’t take long for a young pair of legs to run off with it.

Too Much of a Good Thing: Charters

Kipp- MontgomeryIt would help not to have too many charters. I like school choice, but I also believe you can have too much of a good thing. Yes, you can have too much chocolate, too much fun, and too many clothes. When the DC Public Charter School Board approved 5 new charters, I thought, that’s too many more charters.

I’ve been pouring through a lot of public and charter school data, for the fun of it. There are sucky DCPS schools and there are sucky charter schools. One would hope that the sucky charter schools go away, but like evil robots, they become self-aware and fight their termination. Try a cool idea, succeed and continue, or fail and close.

I looked at the application of one of the approved schools, the Social Justice School. In their statement of why the school is needed, they stated,”Social Justice School meets the needs of a diversifying District where most schools remain highly segregated. We will pursue educational justice as an intentionally integrated community” and further in the piece mentions the need for high performing middle schools. They admit they cannot control who applies to their school (and gets in via the lottery) but they plan on borrowing recruitment techniques from highly sought after charters. For a school that doesn’t seem to have a real world example elsewhere to point to I’m doubtful. But try an idea, and see if it succeeds. If it doesn’t, close it.

I also looked at schools that didn’t make it. Like the Arabic Language School and BOLT Academy. They both seem like really cool ideas, one teaching a language that is in need and the other being a study abroad school, but they had weaknesses which lead to their rejection.

A little less than half of DC students attend charters, but DC still needs DCPS schools. Many DCPS schools do serve a need, just not all. DC Charters serve a need, but let’s not get silly with flooding the market with too many schools when you’re not closing the low performing ones quickly enough.

The Curse of 1640 4th St NW

1640 4th St NWWhelp, it looks like 1640 4th Street NW has thwarted another owner. The last owner, apparently had contractor problems, as in ran away with money problem. The owner before that, tried her hands at renovating the place and for some reason failed. The owner before that, well, she’s the reason I believe 1640 is cursed.

The 3rd owner back and the neighbor next to 1640 had a toxic relationship. The neighbor claimed the 3rd owner called her the N-word, but even before that, they hated each other. I doubt they ever liked each other. So the neighbor was very antagonistic towards the 3rd owner back…. and the woman who bought it from the 3rd owner…. and the current owner. So whoever buys 1640, know the neighbor will hate your guts and do everything in her power to make things difficult.

The plans the current owner has doesn’t help. In the row of 2 story homes, the plans show a pop up that does not match any of the housing on the row. Now I can already hear Scott Roberts saying, “if you don’t want a pop up you should’ve fought for a historic district.” Yeah, no. I have no problem with the idea of a pop-up, I just have a problem with fugly pop-ups. Non-fugly pop-ups are possible.

This property is a shell. The current owner had the back ripped off (so it’s exposed to the elements) and the owner before that had done some demo. $735K seems to be a lot for a shell in my opinion, however, it isn’t the only shell in Truxton Circle in the $700K range, so what do I know?

So whoever buys 1640, not only do they have to deal with a cantankerous neighbor, they also have a partial shell. This would be for an experienced developer, someone who has developed property in the District. However, at the current price, anyone with more sense than money won’t touch it.

Fooling Around with Data: Neighborhood schools vs unneighborly schools

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been fooling around with DC Public School (DCPS) and DC Charter School data. Now for my childless friends there are reasons to be nominally aware of what’s going on with DC schools. If you’re in a sought after boundary you could sell your house for more than a similar house just on the other side of the boundary (ex. Deal Middle School). If you have friends or neighbors you like (or don’t like) with kids, schools can mean they stay or go. Your neighborhood can get clogged with SUV driving parents dropping kids off or swarms of teens converging on your neighborhood metro station. For neighborhood policy wonks schools can mean keeping a middle-class tax base from automatically heading to the burbs.

So let me start with some definitions and categories. In-boundary– aka school catchment area, school attendance boundary or zone is a geographic area determining which school kids are assigned. What I’d call magnet schools, DCPS calls city-wide schools. Then there are the selective high schools like Duke Ellington and McKinley Tech. Outside DCPS there are charter schools, a bunch of independent schools, of varying quality, that are free for District of Columbia students.

Anyway, the DC Policy Center has a really cool graphic regarding in-boundary schools on one of their blog posts about in-boundary and charter schools. I have strong negative feelings about their real estate related papers, but regardless, they have very nice graphics.



I was having fun but noticed the data was from 2016-2017, so I went hunting for newer data and found a bunch of ‘fun’ Excel files.

If you really want to know peoples’ values, look at what they do, and that’s been fascinating.

For school year 2017-2018 there were only 4 schools (all elementary) where over 90% of the students attended their in-boundary school. Deal Middle School, the school Mayor Bowser referred to when promising Deal for All, only had 78.9% of the students in the boundary. Deal is also the largest middle school in the city. It is more than three times as big as the next biggest middle school and twice as big as most education campuses, which mix middle and high schools. But abut 20% of students who could go to Deal, the best DCPS middle school, their parents decided, “nah, we’ll pass.”

What’s up with that?

I was having fun looking at the percentages of different schools from the DC Policy Center data and then looking at the 2017-18 Public School Enrollments per DCPS excel sheet. The weirdest thing, I thought, was with schools where a majority of the students came from the boundary but most of the kids in the boundary went to other schools. And those other schools weren’t necessarily charters. It’s like parents saying, “we believe in public schools, just not the one we’re assigned.” And when some lose the school lottery, they move.

Neighborhood schools v unneighborhood schools

The neighborhood school would be the in-boundary school, not necessarily the nearest school. Looking at the excel sheet I mentioned above, if 10 or more students attended a public (DCPS/charter) school other their in-boundary school it was listed. There are some kids in the Seaton boundary going to Cleveland and Garrison elementary. But those are only about a dozen or so kids per school. In the Dunbar boundary, a chunk (total Dunbar enrollment 617) of 128 attended McKinley Tech and 109 attend Wilson. McKinley isn’t that far (by bike) from Dunbar and from what I can tell a huge chunk of kids in the Dunbar boundary make up the student body (128 out of 620). Considering the huge portion of Ward 5 Dunbar’s boundary consists of, McKinley might be closer, since it is further east. Also considering Ward 5 is served more by the red line, you may as well stay on the train for a Wilson, in the middle of the Van Ness and Friendship Heights stations at Tenleytown.

I’ve mentioned that I’m agnostic when it comes to DCPS, but I get the idea of the neighborhood school. I get the idea of kids from the neighborhood going to school with other kids from the neighborhood. But only Mann, Janney, Key and Lafayette have a 90% plus neighborhood participation rate. When I look at where the kids in the Seaton boundary go, majority go to neighborhood charters or nearby DCPS schools. So they are sorta kinda still in the neighborhood.

1957 Church Survey- Springfield Baptist Church

So I’m bopping to Rick Springfield’s Jessie’s Girl in my head as I type this. The Springfield Baptist Church has nothing to do with the 80s crooner.

Church at P and 6th NWSpringfield Baptist at the corner of P and 6th Street NW, was a steeple church of unknown vintage in 1957, according to its survey entry. I’m not exactly sure what would qualify as a mega-church circa 1957, but Springfield had a large congregation of around 1700 members, 900 of whom showed up on the average Sunday.

So let’s get into the demographic nitty gritty. It is and was a predominately African American church. The occupation spectrum seemed fairly even, a small percentage of professionals, a nice chunk of white-collar workers, some skilled manual and some entrepreneurs.  The largest group were unskilled laborers at 45%, not half but a large percentage.

You might be wondering, was this a commuter church? Yes, no, maybe. Twenty percent lived in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which was later shrunk to the Shaw School Urban Renewal Area. There is a mention that about 15% of the membership moved out of the renewal area in the last two years. Seventy percent lived in other parts of the District, in NE and far parts of NW. The far part may have been closer to their former education center at Kansas Avenue and 8th St NW in Petworth. The E.L. Haynes Charter School sits around there now.

CS 14 Springfield Baptist by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

Education Agnostic

First I fully support the Save Shaw Middle School effort. Regardless of what happens, the effort is needed. Because of efforts by parents and others to save the Shaw campus for Shaw families, I’ve learned what my in-boundary options look like. Seaton, our in-boundary school, currently feeds into Cardozo Education Campus for middle and high school.

But……….

When it comes to DC public schools (DCPS), I’m agnostic. I’m a product of several segregated and later sorta desegregated secondary schools, then post-secondary schools with the first name of University of [State]. I have worked with a variety of people who are products of public and or private schools, and known parents who have sent their children to a mix of schools or homeschooled for a variety of reasons. In DC I have witnessed how the option of charter schools kept families from jumping ship as soon as previous families had left.

100_0681.JPGI’m agnostic about DCPS, because I remember what things were like in the mid-nineties and early 00s.  DC schools used to suck. Parents were voting with their feet and the Cook school closed because of low enrollment. A lot of DCPS schools closed due to low enrollment. Then there was the explosion of DC charters, and many of them took over neighborhood school buildings that were doomed to close or had been abandoned. There is a complicated history of the Armstrong School, but it was empty, then a charter fixed it up (but that charter failed) and we didn’t have a crappy abandoned building sitting next to the building that looked like a prison (Dunbar). The Cook/Cooke school also in that part of the TC, was saved from the horrid fate of Langston, which has been abandoned and is falling apart, by a charter. So not even touching the education part, charters have been great in saving Truxton and parts of Shaw from the threat empty school buildings.

But getting back to education, I don’t desire to speak ill of neighborhood schools, but I cannot ignore what previous parents have done. In observing the choices former and current neighbors have made,  they don’t want what DCPS is offering. If they are true believers in public schools, they move. Either they move west of the Park (WOTP) or out to the ‘burbs where the elementary to middle school options are more palatable.

Right now Destructo-toddler’s education needs are unknown. But I am concerned about him as a bi-racial kid. If he sees himself as black as opposed to bi-racial, there are certain pitfalls that knee-cap the success trajectory of black boys where public schools unwittingly play a part that worry me. So unless the school environment he needs exists a few years before he’s supposed to attend that school, it is not an option.

I’m not a true believer in public education. I’m agnostic. When it comes to Shaw Middle, I admire those fighting. Neighborhood-wise, it is necessary to make it a neighborhood asset. But it does not exist as a functional school yet, and I can’t judge its value. Seaton is okay. Playing with (OMG we had so much fun with this spreadsheet!) SY2017-18 Public School Enrollments per DCPS Boundary Excel file, we could see that a lot of parents choose out of boundary schools and charters. You have to go west to find the true believers, but even they eventually lose the faith.

Shaw Middle School – Reprieve

100_0400.JPG
If the Mayor want’s an empty school building to renovate there is one on the unit block of P St NW.

Just a quickie-

Thankfully, yesterday, the DC Council voted against Mayor Muriel Bowser’s plan to use the Shaw Middle School site for Benjamin Banneker High School. Parents of the elementary schools that surround the empty Shaw Middle School want it to be the stand alone feeder middle school. Currently, the Cardozo Educational Campus is the feeder middle and high school, and parents have said no to that, by voting with their feet.

You could make this about gentrification, but it isn’t. Banneker is a fine school. In fact it is a school one has to qualify for, like Duke Ellington. It is also predominately African American, so that’s where the weak gentrification thing comes in. Thing is, Banneker is currently up near the northern end of the Howard University campus….. not in Shaw. Actually, I’m not sure what neighborhood it is in, as it is too far east to be Columbia Heights and on the wrong side of Howard to be LeDroit. The Shaw Middle School building would theoretically be an in-boundary school for Shaw middle schoolers, should their parents decide to send them there. Banneker would not be an in-boundary school for Shaw high schoolers. No, the in-boundary high schools are Cardozo and Dunbar.

Okay, so for the time being, Shaw Middle School as a concept has been saved.

Yay.   There wasn’t anything guaranteeing that Shaw would get renovated though, just that it wasn’t going to get handed over to a selective school.

Now if the city is just itching to fix up a school somewhere, there is a building on the unit block of P Street NW, across from Mundo Verde I’d like fixed up or torn down.