UPDATE: Much more to the story. There is a third press release below from the Save Our Schools group that seems to be the genesis of all of this (included below the fold). It identifies Fenty as one of the elected officials who is in opposition to SEED's expansion plans. According to Kerry Sylvia of Save Our Schools Fenty's inclusion came from statements made at last month's Mayoral candidate forum at Eastern High school. When asked about the RFK land deal Fenty said that DC residents should be included in the decision process. The Fenty camp confirmed that he supports community input, however there is no legislation pending on this issue and he hasn't publicly come out in support or opposition to the expansion plan.
Click here for more.
BROWN EXPRESSES CONCERNS ABOUT THE FEDERAL LAND TRANSFER PROCESSFrom Williams
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 26, 2006
For More Information Contact: LaToya Foye at 202-724-8174
WASHINGTON, DC- Councilmember At-Large (D) Kwame R. Brown expressed his concerns with the procedures followed during a recent federal land transfer of 15 acres in the Kingman Park neighborhood of Ward 7. The newly acquired land will be used to expand the campuses of the School for Education and Development (SEED School), currently located in the Anacostia neighborhood of Southeast Washington. Below is a statement from Councilmember Brown in which he expresses his desire for open dialogue between local community leaders and federal officials.
"I commend the SEED Foundation for reaching into our community and challenging our students to reach higher and desire more of their futures. The SEED School goes the extra mile to teaches our students that their lives count and their voices can be used to effect change beginning with themselves and their community. While I anticipate the construction activities to build a state of-the-art facility where our children are able to excel in a learning environment tailored to meet their needs, I am concerned with the procedures we deem acceptable to make this expansion a reality. The residents of the community feel silenced by the recent decision to reserve use of the land, an agreement reached by Congress and the executive branch of our government. Although the development of a much needed resource will build our community, any decision where we fail to inform our residents at the start of the decision making process discourages our residents from believing their views are equally respected and considered. Our communications should be transparent and inclusive. I hope that we move forward with the choices we make each day to improve the quality of life of District residents, assured that the decisions are a true reflection of their voices."
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: TUESDAY, APRIL 25, 2006From SaveOurSchools
CONTACT: VINCENT MORRIS(202) 727-5011 SHARON GANG (202) 727-5011
Mayor Urges Council to Reject Ill-Advised Resolution Against SEED School
Williams reaffirms his strong support for successful Ward 7 boarding school
(Washington, DC) Mayor Anthony A. Williams today asked the DC Council to turn away an ill-advised effort that would oppose the highly successful SEED School's building a second campus in Ward 7 on land owned by the federal government.
Mayor Williams pointed out that the SEED School, which is the country's first urban public boarding school, has a strong record of graduating District teenagers who attend college. Many, if not most, are the first in their families to attend college. Graduates of the SEED School, who come from some of the city's poorest neighborhoods, have gone on to attend Princeton, Stanford, Georgetown and NYU, among other schools.
Moreover, the school has met with national and international acclaim -- last year, First Lady Laura Bush joined Prince Charles in touring the school -- in part to see if a similar model would work in London. Also last year, officials at Harvard University's Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation characterized the SEED School as a "groundbreaking government initiative" and awarded it the prestigious "Innovations in American Government Award." This was the first time that any District program has received this $100,000 award.
In 2005, in a welcome display of respect for DC Home Rule, members of Congress gave Mayor Williams the option of using federal land in Ward 7 to expand educational opportunities for District residents by locating a pre-collegiate boarding school on land that is now part of the RFK site If Mayor Williams had opted not to use the land for a boarding school, it would likely become a parking lot or a federal mail sorting facility. Mayor Williams, though a strong supporter of the SEED School, initiated a public process to seek offers through a fair and open competition for proposals to use the land as the Congress has offered, to expand educational opportunities for District residents.
"The Council resolution would restrict opportunities for high quality education in the District. By focusing on the SEED school, this resolution singles out a school with an outstanding record of accomplishment. We have a rare opportunity to use federal land to improve educational options, either for the SEED School or another quality institution. I strongly support the SEED school and urge the Council to reject this ill-considered attempt to oppose the school's expansion. I am proud to be associated with its students and teachers who are making our city a better place. Councilmembers need to understand that if the school is not built there, the land will probably become a parking lot or mail warehouse -- eyesores that we don't need or want in Ward 7."
EDUCATORS, STUDENTS, PARENTS, & LOCAL OFFICIALS to PROTEST ÂLAND GRABÂ AT SEED CHARTER SCHOOL FOUNDATION OFFICE
Save Our Schools Coalition Demands End to SEEDÂS Special Deal, Flouting of Home Rule, Mistreatment of Students
(Washington, D.C.)---District residents concerned about a special deal that allows the SEED School to take over 15 acres of parkland, will gather outside the school's office, 1712 Eye Street, NW, at 5 pm, Wednesday, April 26. The rally is being called by Save Our Schools, a coalition of organizations and individuals committed to preserving quality traditional public education in the city.
Save Our Schools and others are demanding that SEED cease and desist from their attempted land grab in Northeast, end its disrespect for the self-determination of Washington DC, and most of all, curtail its ill-conceived experiments on young people's future. A press conference follows.
"It is outrageous that SEED is trying to take over 15 acres of riverside parkland Â vitally needed green space in our neighborhood Â to build a school, that too going behind the backs of the community," said Frazer Walton, President of the Kingman Park Civic Association. "By going to Congress to give them the land instead of talking to the city and the community first, they showed utter disregard for our basic ability to govern ourselves as a city."
Local elected officials, including Council Members Vincent Gray (Ward 7), Adrian Fenty (Ward 4), and Kwame Brown (At-Large), support the residents of the Kingman Park neighborhood in their opposition to SEED's expansion plans.
Community activists also object strongly to how SEED acquired the land and what the school plans to do with the land. According to educator and long-time community activist Emily Washington, "SEED is planning to build a gated boarding school, which resembles a prison, for 600 students, most of whom will probably never graduate." She pointed out that SEED has graduated only 41 students since it opened in 1998, and that SEED students who don't graduate are held back, expelled, or encouraged to leave, often with no credits. She referred to their educational practices as "unconscionable experiments with the future of our children."
Lee Glazer, a concerned parent of DC Public School students and member of the Save Our Schools Coalition, condemned the fact that SEED receives an inordinate amount of public funding for their misguided educational experiments. "SEED gets $30,000 per student while public schools like Eastern and Wilson are forced to get by with only about $5,000 per student." She added that the pervasive inequality of funding between charter schools and traditional public schools set up a system of "educational apartheid."
Following the demonstration, several speakers will outline the Coalition's criticisms of SEED: Frazer Walton, President of the Kingman Park Civic Association; Emily Washington, DC Public School Teacher and Ward 7 community activist; and some former SEED students, who can testify to SEED's flawed educational methods based on first hand experience.
After the event, the Coalition intends to keep up the political pressure on SEED and other unscrupulous charter school operators who receive huge public subsidies for their long-range plans to privatize public education in the District.