Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

DC Public Schools are throwing brand new school supplies into dumpsters.

I just got this email from my Dear Ole Dad who lives up in Maryland:
I went to my regular diner this morning for breakfast, and typically, I see the same folks sipping coffee and swapping tales. Today's subject was a little out of the ordinary, and it's worth sending you a note to vent a bit of frustration and share my amazement.

Joe, who works as a foreman for a local service company, had worked this week in DC where his company was doing some repairs at a local DC school. Over the course of a few days, Joe kept noticing a constant parade of young workers hauling plastic bags out of the school and depositing them into a dumpster. Being a nosy sort of fellow, Joe decided to inquire what the young workers were deposting as trash.

He was told "old school supplies", so he decided to look inside a few of the bags. Much to Joe's surprise he discovered that the contents of the dumpster bags were indeed a collection of school supplies, but they weren't necessarily old supplies.

Being the proverbial packrat, Joe asked if he could take some of the things home for his personal use, and was told to take all he wanted. Thus, this morning each of the regular diner crowd took home a complete supply of brand new geometry tools, still packed in plastic wrappers! Additionally, there were unused maps and books.

I would not have been so surprised, but for the fact that almost weekly we read an article in the Washington Post about (1) the failures of local education, how 3rd World students from the Caribbean islands are beating our elementary students in arithmetic etc. or (2) about the woefully poor funding for education in DC, MD, VA schools.

While the old-timers at the diner were sampling the wares provided by the dumpster-diving Joe, one old-timer piped up with, "Damn, I remember when I was in 4th grade all the rulers had been used so many years that the numbers were rubbed off." I also recall my own years in elementary school in Texas in which we had about one ruler per row of students.

We all seem to know that something is amiss in our education system, but this little story clues me to the fact that the problem may be a reflection of total mismanagement of everything about our schools. For a depression-era guy whose family and friends struggled to overcome many obstacles so that we could share in the American dream, it is incomprehensible that someone would approve of dumping the very implements that got me where I am today.
This KILLS me. Unused maps too - no wonder our Geographic knowledge is non-existant in this country. This is so sad. I'm glad you posted about this.

My sister used to work for a non-profit called The Dictionary Project which distributed dictionaries to 3rd graders in schools around South Carolina (one of the poorest, if not THE poorest, educational systems in the US). One one of her dictionary stops, she was told by the school that they didn't want the FREE resources, because they didn't have any where to put them. These were FREE dictionaries for kids. Unbelievable.

I would tell your dad to start up a collection, and we could all pitch in a send the supplies to a country that really cares about their educational resources.
That's sick. I know that this summer we were doing cleanup at my son's school and discovered shelves full of unused school supplies -- the same items that teachers and parents had been bringing in themselves because the school apparently hadn't requisitioned them...Now we discover that the school administration simply couldn't find them...

Oh and inexplicably we also found about 200 boxes of Easter Egg dye.
I actually was in a school where I saw microscopes, complete curriculums still in the plastic wrap, globes, maps, desks, COMPUTERS, loads of school supplies, and about 1/2 a schools worth of furniture. This was during the first week of September when Lincoln Middle School had moved to their new location at the new Bell Multicultural Ctr. The Lincoln Middle School just left EVERYTHING and moved on. It's a shame! Then DCPS complains about not having the funding to pay for more qualified staff or related services and therapies!
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