Washington D.C. is a majority non-White city. Its public service officials are non-White, its school system is non-White: and it offers a glimpse into what awaits America unless the non-White invasion is halted and reversed.
Kelly Miller Middle School opened its doors in a struggling Northeast Washington neighborhood in 2004, a $35 million showcase for the District's public schools, every classroom equipped with a whiteboard and computers. A particular source of pride was a media production room, where students could broadcast announcements and produce programs to be viewed on TVs wired in each classroom.
Three years later, there have been no broadcasts. The room still needs a last, critical piece of equipment, which fell into a bureaucratic chasm in the Negro-dominated civil service in that city.
A detailed assessment of the state of the school system, based on extensive public records, suggests that the challenge is enormous: The system is among the highest-spending and worst-performing in the nation.
Kelly Miller is one small example of a breakdown in most of the basic functions that are meant to support classroom learning.
· Tests show that in reading and math, the District's public school students score at the bottom among 11 major city school systems, even when poor children are compared only with other poor children. Thirty-three percent of poor fourth-graders across the nation lacked basic skills in math, but in the District, the figure was 62 percent. It was 74 percent for D.C. eighth-graders, compared with 49 percent nationally.
· The District spends $12,979 per pupil each year, ranking it third-highest among the 100 largest districts in the nation. But most of that money does not get to the classroom. D.C. schools rank first in the share of the budget spent on administration, last in spending on teachers and instruction.
· Principals reporting dangerous conditions or urgently needed repairs in their buildings wait, on average, 379 days -- a year and two weeks -- for the problems to be fixed. Of 146 school buildings, 113 have a repair request pending for a leaking roof, a Washington Post analysis of school records shows.
· The schools spent $25 million on a computer system to manage personnel that had to be discarded because there was no accurate list of employees to use as a starting point. The school system relies on paper records stacked in 200 cardboard boxes to keep track of its employees, and in some cases is five years behind in processing staff paperwork. It also lacks an accurate list of its 55,000-plus students, although it pays $900,000 to a consultant each year to keep count.
· Just over half of teenage students attend schools that meet the District's definition of "persistently dangerous" because of the number of violent crimes, according to an analysis of school reports. Across the city, nine violent incidents are reported on a typical day, including fights and attacks with weapons. Fire officials receive about one complaint a week of locked fire doors, and health inspections show that more than a third of schools have been infested by mice.
"I don't know if anybody knows the magnitude of problems at D.C. public schools. It's mind-boggling," said Abdusalam Omer, the school system's chief business operations officer, who was hired in February to tackle payroll, purchasing, personnel and repair operations.
Omer, who worked for the schools as chief financial officer a decade ago, said little has changed. "It's like I've been in a coma for 10 years and just woke up." He said that when he walked into the personnel office this year, it was "strikingly scary" to find the mountain of boxes holding files on more than 11,000 employees.