Recently in Schools Category

This morning, like many mornings when the Help decides to drive me to work, we passed by KIPP along P St.

When we go by I mention which cars stopped along the road  dropping kids off. It tends to go along the lines of, "DC, DC, DC, Maryland, DC, Maryland, Maryland. Maryland, Virginia, DC, DC, Maryland..."

I don't know if KIPP has a waiting list or you must play the school lotto to get your kid in any of the Shaw KIPPs, but if I were a DC parent I would be pissed at all these Marylanders taking up slots in DC schools.

I have heard that Marylanders have been benefiting from DC tax dollars for years. Unless there is some special thing where KIPP takes MD students and no DC education dollars go to them, this is a litte too flagrant. When the Help's parents lied about where they lived to get him into a better school, they at least kept up appearances. Dropping your kid off in front of the DC school with your MD license plate, not subtle.

According to the KIPP DC site a parent must prove DC residency. I am curious of what proves residency. Depending on what's needed to prove residency, I could prove myself as a resident of Florida.

Tower of Doom

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Be gone towering brutalist structure of failure and doom. Obscure our landscape no more.

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1300 block 3rd/New Jersey Ave NW. Old Dunbar High School being torn down.

Post-Halloween Miscellany

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Well I said I'd get back to regular posting in November, and now look what month it is.

Halloween recap- Well the trick or treaters did not come until 7 something, and there were so few coming at a time we gave a lot of candy to the early kids and adults. Around 8 something we were starting to run out of candy. At 9pm we decided to call it a night because I figured it was too late for the youngest people to be out.

The costumes were okay this year. There were a bunch, I mean a bunch of Spidermen and spidergirls. No these weren't all the same kids. I had two Spidermen show up at the same time. There were those who made an effort and those who did not. We had special candy for those who just showed up in their regular clothes, caramels and tootie rolls. We did some minimal dressing up ourselves. I threw on an apron and called myself a chef. The Help failed to get rid of his graduation gown after getting his MLS so he wore almost all his regalia (we couldn't find the mortarboard)  and was mistaken for Harry Potter by our nighttime visitors. Harry Potter. The Help wasn't wearing glasses, I don't see how you could miss the University of Maryland patch on the red satin whatchamacallit.

Facetime- I try to practice being aware of my surroundings, even on the bus, because you gotta know how close you want to sit/stand near the crazy. I'm kind of observant. Well I spied with my little eye, someone engaging in Facetime, that function on the iPhone where there is a camera on you and the speaker so you both can see each other talk. Anyway, boyfriend on the other end was getting dressed. What I saw was rated PG-13 not NC-17, but still. I know there are a bunch of you out there who don't care that NSA is reading your email, or TSA is looking at your naked body scans, and have a different sense of privacy than I, but please don't Facetime 1/2 neekid people.

Judging the Post's "Getting to Know Shaw"- In todays print edition the Washington Post's  weekend section has an article by a variety of the Going Out Gurus. It is a collection of short blurbs about a few Shaw restaurants and bars, the library, the Howard Theatre, and the dog/skate park at 11th and Rhode Island. It is not a comprehensive list of all the good stuff that has come in the last three to five years. There is no mention of the Bundy dog run on the 400 block of P St., or Bistro Boheme, nor the brand spanking new Dunbar High School (please open the pool to residents, pretty please!), but that's ok. The on-line version neighborhood guide has more regarding commercial establishments.

Decade in Review: JF Cook School

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Cook and MM Washington
Alley view of JF Cook
There was a BACA meeting last night where members of the civic association voted on supporting the Mundo Verde Charter School. The vote was 23 for, 8 abstaining and 7 against. So this third try* has gotten the neighborhood's support but there are a number of other things (studies, permits, etc) that need to be dealt with before a possible 2014 opening.

*I wrote third try. After the closing of the school around 2008 there were several ideas floating around of making it a police substation or a community type center, but none of those panned out. KIPP had shown an interest in Cook, but they didn't need all the space and the arts partner talked about might not have been a good mix. After that there was the LAYC, Latin American Youth Center proposal which resident's didn't like. The problem with that was there was a subsized housing element to their proposal that wasn't a dorm. And so our third time around is Mundo Verde, a hard to get into charter school with a long waiting list. I think it will be a good match, particularly for Bloomingdale parents.

Hopefully once the JF Cook school building is operational, the neighborhood can then focus our efforts on to the Langston and Slater buildings.

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The Help and School

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I was talking with the Help about a GGW post that I commented on about charter schools and asked him if I could tell his story. The crime took place about 25 years ago so I guess it is safe to talk about since one of the responsible parties are dead and the other is ill. The crime was lying about the Help family address so the Help could go to a 'better' school.

In arguments about school choice, charters, and DC Public schools there is this strain of belief that middle class parents must/will leave their kids in DCPS so DCPS will get better. There just needs to be enough middle class and or motivated and dedicated parents to turn a school and a school system around. However, parents can be selfish and only thinking about their own kids and not the city's children as the case with my in-laws have proven.

The Help grew up in the Silicon Valley area, before Silicon Valley was super high tech and what not, in a middle classish neighborhood. His mom was an elementary school teacher and his dad a lineman at the GE factory. When it came time for the Help to go high school, his parents used their friends' address to get him into Santa Teresa High* and avoid Thomas Madison*, which according to the Help was a drug and gang infested school. Kevin, the Help's next door neighbor of the same age, moved several blocks away into Oakdale High's* boundary.

When my in-laws chose Santa Teresa over Thomas Madison they weren't thinking academics, which is a topic often brought up in comparing DCPS and DC charters. Academics were the furthest from their minds, they were very concerned about safety. Little good that did, because the Help got punched in the nose by a bully and still bears the scar from that today. Except for that and other things related to living a lie about your address, he had a decent high school experience and was able to get into the University of California system.

When we went back to Silicon Valley to visit family, we took the pastor who married us out to lunch. Apparently Santa Teresa or Oakdale (I don't remember) is heading downward and the pastor and his family are moving to get into a better school. Better, still meaning not drug and gang infested, not necessarily better academically.

Studies showing that charter schools are not always academically superior, or citing that there is an unfair advantage charters have or whatnot, is not as meaningful when the parent measures the desirability of a school by other values. In the case of my in-laws it was safety. In the case of some friends it was finding an environment where their child flourished emotionally.

My point is policy people will advocate what is best for their policy and most parents will do what they believe is best for their children. If that means moving, they will move, and lots do. If that means trying other options, like breaking the law and lying about where they really live, they'll do that too. Well that would explain all the Maryland license plates I see in front of one DC charter school.

 

*The names of the school have been slightly changed.

License Plate Bingo

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The Help will on occasion drive me to work, so we can spend a few more minutes together and talk about stuff. On our way downtown he'll take P Street west and we will sometimes hit KIPP traffic. If not distracted by the dogs at the dog run across the street we will play license plate bingo while waiting for parents and guardians to drop off their charges.

I would say the last time we were on the 400 block of P St NW, I said looking at the different tags parked, "DC, Maryland, Maryland, Maryland, Maryland, DC..." There just seems to be a large number of Maryland tags for this DC public charter school when we pass through. Now I understand in a world of divorce and broken families, the person dropping the kids off may not be the primary parent, and that person may not live in the District. Then there is competition and wait lists to get into KIPP, I wonder what happens when a DC family moves to MD. Of course there are plenty of KIPP kids getting to school by foot and WMATA, when I'm not being chauffeured, those are the ones I see.

I'm not really thinking deeply about this, I'm just writing what I've observed in the morning.

Past-

The people at the Charles Sumner School Archives are awesome! I got a nice quick answer from them about a school that used to exist in the TC, the William J. Twining School that used to be where the current Dunbar School sits now, but smaller. It kept showing up on maps of the neighborhood, and I was trying to figure out if it was a black school or a white school. Anyway it was built in 1883, and was a white school up until 1925. In the 30s it was combined with the Morse School, then later Bundy. Then in 1947 Armstrong began using come of the building space. In 1949 it stopped being an elementary school, students were transfered to Scott Montgomery, and the building annexed to Armstrong High School. In 1955 it became a warehouse. No date of when it was torn down.

The Future-

A new business that specializes in desserts, particularly cookies is coming to North Capitol Street. Or is already there.

The Present-

I've been having tons of fun with the webcam overlooking the O Street Market. The nighttime images particularly made me smile. Then I got interested in watching the cars in the parking lot and along O Street at the bottom of the camera, appear and disappear. There is a yellow cab that got there at 4:50AM and is still there. Too bad camera #1 isn't up, I wonder what it captures.

If it didn't happen does it matter?

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We, three of us, myself, the Help, and a neighbor, were driving back to the house when I noticed something coming down R St. There was a woman, slender, pony tail bouncing away, white earbuds and iSomething in her left hand which extended with her advancing steps. About 4 feet directly behind her on the sidewalk was a kid on a bike going slowly. I pointed it out to my companions and we watched at the intersection as the woman crossed and the kid stayed a good 3-4 feet behind her, without trying to pass, and she seemed completely oblivious to the situation. As they both made it through the intersection, we all looked at the kid and the kid, who was in his late teens, looked back at us looking at him. Not feeling right about it, we swung the car around the block to see the woman make it to the next corner, without the kid on the bike following her so closely. This was about 6:15PM on Saturday. Nothing happened. But something in my gut says we prevented something from happening.

Anyway, be aware of your surroundings. Stop holding your iCrap with one hand extended out from your body.

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Also in the land of stuff that didn't happen, but we know it matters, the Youth Build charter school will be developing the JF Cook School without the housing part that made the neighbors angry. See more from Caryn at the BACA blog. What didn't happen? Subsidized housing for the non-elderly in an area that shares a block with S.O.M.E.

Yes, new playground but what about....

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It has been reported as Bloomingdale getting a new playground, but this puppy is actually in the TC. And of the various links to the playground next to Associates for Renewal in Education (ARE) over in the Slater school building, I don't see a picture. So here's an old picture. Honestly, I haven't been over to this section of Truxton for a while as I've been sending the Help (the spouse) out for the Saturday morning Catania Bakery run, so I don't know of any changes.

There is a video with some ARE kids, some guy from the Washington Caps and Elliot Segal of DC101. I don't see any footage of what the present and possible look of the playground is to be. But I know where ARE is and can guess that their parking lot with a playset is to be the new playground.

Langston SchoolHere's the question I have, what's going to happen with that neighboring hulk that is the decrepit Langston, on the other side of the future playground. Fuzzy memory, and feel free to correct me if I am way off base, but don't the ARE people have some sort of hold, control, somethin' over Langston?

 Hat Tip: Bloomingdale Blog

Yes, taxes cheaper in DC but that's not why I'm here

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There is a active debate over at Greater, Greater Washington about the report showing that in most cases it is cheaper to live in DC in regards to taxes. I've lived in Arlington, Hyattsville, College Park and the District and yes, over time the District has lower taxes. I say over time, because I distinctly remember getting less take home pay after I moved from Maryland to the District and looking at my taxes now, they aren't bad.

To those who say you can't live in Arlington without a car (re: VA car tax), I lived in Arlington for 2 years without one and did fine thank you very much. Hell, until I married the Help, this household has been carfree since 1993.

I didn't move to the District because of the property taxes or the income taxes or the schools. I moved here because of my commute and what I wanted my future commute to be. Also because I wanted to own a house and compared to the surrounding areas, DC has the best set up with programs, tax incentives, and helpful non-profits for 1st time homebuyers. As a homeowner the lower property tax for staying in my current home is an incentive to stay put, as well as the 20-30 minute commute and the ability to walk home on a nice sunny day.

We have been pondering a what if of moving to a spot where The Help's commute would be nicer into PG Co, and well the property taxes there would have us factoring that into the price. Yes, the houses are cheaper in PG but watch out for the property tax and the locality rates for income taxes.

And schools not a factor for us. There are no children in our house now. I have cousins in Virginia who send there kids (my 3rd cousins) to a private Christian school. Not because the schools in that area are bad but because their kids really liked their school, and that's where their friends go. And some other friends in Maryland, their kid goes to a private secular school for his 'special needs', adult siblings went to Catholic schools. And we know some people who (gasp!) homeschool in Maryland. My first cousins who grew up in Laurel, went to public school, probably because my aunt was a teacher there. Then we've got DC friends and neighbors carting their kids off to charter schools. So in our circle of friends and associates no one goes to the 30K a year elite private school that gets dragged out in these conversations. And no, DCPS is not the worst in the nation. I compared Dunbar to my old high school and Dunbar was better. I went to school with rednecks and fared ok. If and when children become part of our household, we'll do the charter and out of boundary lotto dance.

But that's years away, if at all. Who knows I could wind up getting my high paying dream job in Florida or Northern California and this would be moot.