In Washington, DC, education is an issue that is complicated and controversial. Common lore holds that the public school system has been dysfunctional for decades and the result is the lowest test scores in the nation. Explanations for this are numerous. Some blame parents or “poor” communities; others blame administrators and teachers, but it’s never been true that all of DC’s public schools are bad.
Bruce Monroe Elementary School, when it was located on Georgia Avenue, regularly met its adequate yearly progress goals and has had an active school community organization the Parents and Friends of Bruce Monroe who worked diligently to raise funds for needed renovations to the forty year old school.
In 2008, only a few DC public schools could match Bruce Monroe’s academic achievement or the level of familial and community support that the school enjoyed. Despite this, school chancellor Michelle Rhee closed the school, ostensibly due to low enrollment, and moved the students to a 94-year-old, low-performing school blocks away from the main thoroughfare of Georgia Avenue. Parents, teachers and students have been fighting the decision ever since.
The audio segment below uses audio recorded on the day of the city council’s public hearing regarding the DCPS budget. DC Public school advocates lobbied the council to hold the hearing on a Saturday morning so that school stakeholders, most of whom work during the week, would be able to attend. Dozens of DC residents testified that day, but only three council members showed up–Vincent Gray who presided, David Catania, there in body if not in spirit, and Jim Graham who showed up about two hours late. The mainstream press was completely nonexistent.
Fortunately, Grassroots Media Project Producer Isi Obinna Ugorji was there, interviewing parents, other stakeholders and advocates. Isi, Grassroots Media Project contributor, Adrienne Lynch and I (the project coordinator) sifted through the audio. The result is the following audio segment. DCPS Budget Hearing-Bruce Monroe
A decent article that puts Bruce Monroe into the context of other school closings can be found at the following link – http://foreverdc.com/2010/03/23/three-closed-d-c-schools-wont-reopen-soon/
The Grassroots Media Project is always looking for citizen journalists who can cover issues like this, too often ignored or misrepresented by corporate-owned media. If you are interested in joining our team please contact Liane Scott, the project coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.