Unkept promises on a D.C. grade school
By Christopher Rehling
The March 22 Metro article “D.C. budget could keep 3 schools closed longer” aired the excuses of Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and city officials about delays in rebuilding Bruce-Monroe Elementary School, but it ignored the voices of parents at the school who have advocated for improvements to the building for a decade.
D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) was wrong to claim that there was little question about the wisdom of closing the old Bruce-Monroe. As a result of organizing by parents, $2.5 million in repairs and improvements were made to the school, and a new library was built with Target funds. Most important, the school had a strong academic track record and steady enrollment.
When the chancellor said in 2008 that students had to move, the parents and staff asked her for time so that Bruce-Monroe and Park View Elementary, the school where the students were being sent, could prepare for consolidation. They were told “no” — the move must happen immediately so that construction could begin on the new building. All this investment in the old building came toppling down with the wrecking ball, and the students were sent to a worse facility. Two years later, there is no new building, only more excuses.
The parents of Bruce-Monroe at Park View demand that the promises be met. In the article, the chancellor cited unexpected construction cost overruns. Shouldn’t anyone in charge of a multimillion-dollar budget know that construc8tion costs always exceed estimates? She also blamed the economy. But the economy was not booming when this decision was made. And if a deal was not in place with a developer, why were the parents and staff told they had to move immediately?
The writer is program manager of the Tellin’ Stories Project of Teaching for Change.
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