Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Janey says that DCPS aren't taking advantage of the District's resources

In an op-ed in the Washington Times Superintendent Janey laments the fact that DC's public schools rarely take advantage of the world class resources that are available in the city.
Mile for mile, the District of Columbia has one of the world's richest concentrations of resources for learning and enrichment. Whatever you want to study, we have a museum for it -- or a university, government agency, research organization, business, association or a performing arts group. We even have some pretty good sports teams.

As a practical matter, though, how much do these assets actually benefit our students? Almost certainly, not as much as they could. Over the years, District public schools have partnered with any number of entities to provide excellent programs. Most, though, have been uncoordinated and targeted to specific grades or schools.

So far, DCPS has not had the intention, let alone the organizational and policy infrastructure, to let students take long-term advantage of what is, after all, their birthright: the world-class resources our city has to offer.

So, we have something of a "tale of two cities." The District is home to hundreds of performing arts groups, but countless children in our public schools have never attended a live, professional performance. We are a global capital of business and finance, but many students have never been inside an office building. We have embassies from most of the world's nations, but, for many of our students, opportunities for growth and exploration reach no farther than a few city blocks.

This is more than ironic; it's tragic. It also is why I highlight partnerships with our city as one of the signature themes of our new DCPS Master Education Plan.
And Janey's right. This very topic was raised during my tour of the William E. Doar Jr. Public Charter School for the Performing Arts. Charter schools are taking advantage of low or no-cost programs run by the likes of the Kennedy Center to enrich the lives of their students. Its about time DCPS did the same.

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