Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Baseball and schools

I have purposely kept from covering the battle over the proposed baseball stadium mainly because as a school issue I feel its a bit of a red herring; one really doesn't have much to do with the other. I've been meaning to write a post explaining that position, but Tom Knott, in a great article in today's Times, beat me to the punch.
It is an intellectually dishonest course, for the broken-down D.C. public school system remains impervious to the best intentions, whether the ball club plays at RFK, on Half Street or in a pasture in Loudoun County.

The embarrassing performance of the city's public schools is an old wound, hardly germane to the ballpark discussion. If money were the answer, the D.C. public school system would be among the nation's leaders, judging from its per-pupil expenditure.

D.C. officials are forever pumping tax money into a system that provides only a illusionary return. It fools no one. Those with the means to do so send their children to private schools or move to stronger school districts in the suburbs.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams and the D.C. Council members can resolve the issue of the ballpark however they like. If they want, they can call up Bud Selig to say, "On fifth thought, keep the team."

But let's be clear on one point: The D.C. public school system will remain an embarrassment until the system adopts reform from within, which is not going to happen anytime soon.

We are talking about a system whose function in part is to protect the jobs of the incompetent. We are talking about a system that goes through superintendents like tissue paper. Each superintendent comes to the city with a bright idea or three but eventually leaves in disappointment after succumbing to the weight of the dysfunction.

We can argue all day about the merit of the new ballpark, about corporate welfare that reeks as badly as the Blue Plains Plant, about the end-around of Linda W. Cropp and about the unseemliness of eminent domain. These are all good talking points. There are others as well. All are beside the point if the cause is public education.
I highly recommend reading the whole article.

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