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Posted at 8:05 PM ET, 03/25/2010

Unkept promises on a D.C. grade school

By editors

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.

By editors  | March 25, 2010; 8:05 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, schools  
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I'm sorry but all open-plan schools need to be razed. It's not your community's fault but it is what you have to live with. I volunteered with Target to help stock the library. I know what the library looked like and I was there.

If you want to complain about the way the building deteriorated under Barry, hey, he's to blame on this one so let him have it. The people who inherited his mess should not be taken to task for the situation at hand.

Posted by: bbcrock | March 25, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

So, BB.Crock, Rhee should not have to keep her promises? Nice try with the deflection to the Barry years, but that's not relevant here. You should stop living in the past and wake up to the present reality of Rhee's unkept promises.

Also, Mr. Crock, is razing a building the only option in your mind? I'm glad you aren't head of facilities!

Posted by: dccitizen1 | March 26, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I wonder how Rhee's new PR firm will sell this one to the public.

Posted by: resc | March 26, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Unkept promises, disruption in successful schools, misrepresentation (lies)of people and facts, and total disregard for the students and people to progress herself = Rhee.
I'm so saddened by the state of DCPS. There was always some where to turn for great education within the system. Now, unless you're connected, live in upper NW, or admitted to a specialty high school, there is a limited choice.
We're choosing private independent. So sad to be in this era of disbelief, despair, discontent. All due to Rhee's lack of leadership skills.
Children at ALL levels and socioeconomic statuses are suffering.

Posted by: ColoredSpirit | March 26, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

No, in Rhee you have someone who is not supportive of public education for all and is no more than a hatchet man as it were. When parents, "the consumers", are ignored, it's plain to see what is at work here. It's what happens when someone who isn't a true educator is in charge of's all dollars and not about children, family, and communities. Another sad tale of the slow destruction of the public education system.

Posted by: Live4literacy | March 26, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

The main reason cited for the demolition delay and cost overruns has been the unanticipated need for asbestos abatement at the Bruce-Monroe site.

I don't see any mention of this in the letter.

Posted by: gardyloo | March 26, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, egardyloo. Asbestos, and, major (capital-intensive) repairs or replacements of many HVAC, plumbing, electric, and roof systems just sucked the money out of the capital budget. Lew was handed a mess, he has done the best he can--better than almost anyone else could. Interestingly, prior supts., who had more sway in capital budgeting than Rhee does, did not have the means or the concern to make these repairs, which if undone would have closed our [way too many, still] schools.

Posted by: axolotl | March 26, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Well at least now we're only griping about a few schools, instead of all of them as in years past. I call that progress!

Posted by: mendelsonmustgo | March 26, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

So, the educated excuse makers for Miss Rhee are back.
Makes me think of Charles Flowers High School in PGCPS.
The filters for the air conditioners cannot be taken through the building to the roof.
The school system has to hire a crane to lift the filters to the roof when they need to be replaced.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | March 26, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

philmarlowe--you need a restful weekend away from this blogue, like me.

Posted by: axolotl | March 26, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse


Abatement has slowed the current demolition project, but the demolition project didn't even start over a year after the children were out of the building. Why rush them out then?

Also, where is the promised money and plans to build the school? It's not there. These are parents that have been fighting for the school facilities for over a decade, and still nothing happens.

Posted by: baashw | March 26, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

We need vouchers for education. 70% goes to the private school 30% goes to the public school the kid left to help them compete. 30% must be spent for increased salaries or equipment for classroom imnprovement. Public schools can compete. They just need that 30% of each voucher. Then as they begin to have fiece competition watch the kids educational level take off!! Competition brings out the best in people. Monopoly brings out the worst in people. Get those vouchers going and stop penalizing so many poor kids with monopoly education.

Posted by: cdorbg | March 28, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

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