Despite the challenges of pleasing parents and dealing with skeptical council members, Lew took the job. His reward was a list of 1,200 work orders going back decades.
What made him most proud? Replacing the athletic fields at all but one high school? Painting and buffing up every school last summer and opening schools on time? Repairing old heating systems? Renovating a half-dozen schools?
Fixing the toilets, stupid.
“I think we’ve turned the corner,” he says. “Broken bathrooms and water fountains are not the norm anymore.”
Before Lew and his crew took over, at the core of many depressed and downtrodden neighborhoods in D.C. was a rundown school. Take Sousa Middle School. Lew gutted a busted-up building that looked like a correctional facility and turned it into a warm and welcoming place to learn. It still sits amid public housing projects along Benning Road, but Sousa is now a pathway to college rather than a prep school for prison.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Harry Jaffe's Person of the Year...
... is Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization head Allen Lew. While Chancellor Rhee has reaped most of the press attention in 2008 Lew has been quietly turning around DCPS facilities.