Time's Up for Excuses on Neglected Schools

Article excerpt

Excuses, excuses and more mind-boggling excuses.

Here's a first: I finally agree with a member of the D.C. financial control board. I became so disgusted with the pathetic proceedings focusing on the unbelievable D.C. school closings that I, too, wanted to throw my hands up in disgust as control board member Joyce Ladner suggested.

Instead, I left the Martin Luther King Jr. Library shaking my head and mumbling obscenities because the despicable manner in which D.C. school officials have treated students is obscene.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Kaye K. Christian should be handling a criminal case against the D.C. school board, the superintendent, the D.C. Council, the control board and the mayor - past and present. Each and every one of them should be "stepped back" to the jail holding cell immediately and sentenced to life without parole for the systematic murder of thousands of young minds.

Sounds drastic? Not nearly as drastic as what 80,000 children must continually endure at the hands of incompetent adults elected and paid to educate them at a whopping cost of nearly a half-billion dollars annually!

Some heads should roll. Not when schools open on Sept. 3, but today.

The long-standing problem with D.C. schools goes far beyond repeated fire-code violations that threaten to delay the opening of school again this year. A deep and disturbing malaise, mistrust and egotism exists that exposes a bungling bureaucracy that's rotten right to its very core.

Busted pipes and leaky roofs are only visible signs of decades of decay.

With a workable plan, a little elbow grease and a few bucks some of these structures could be repaired. But who can mend the years of invisible damage inflicted on young, ill-educated people? No amount of money in the world can make amends for the abuse and neglect the people in this system have meted out and, in some instances, suffered.

Excuses, excuses, excuses.

This one pointing the finger at that one. That one blaming the other one. No one agrees with anyone about anything. Everyone shouting everyone else down. First we say we can't, there's not enough money. Then we say we've found the money, but we'll need more time.

Which is it? Who knows? No wonder nothing gets accomplished. It's T minus eight days and counting to Judge Christian's Aug. 21 deadline for the schools, and someone needs to stand up and be accountable.

When little work on the crumbling structures was apparent this weekend, Superintendent Franklin Smith backtracked once again, saying he didn't mean to give the impression that crews would be working around the clock to correct the violations.

Why not? If that's what it takes, then so be it. And, if it means that Mr. Smith and his 13 ineffective supervisors must pull overalls on over their suits and get their hands dirty along with the workmen, then so be that, too. …