|"Academical Village" at the University of Virginia, did architect Jefferson waste money making it beautiful?|
|The new Los Angeles Robert F. Kennedy Community School (main entry, front, and performing arts center)|
Or, as I might point out, just over than one-third the cost of the new Cowboys Stadium in Texas (used about 20 days per year) or less than one third the cost of the New Meadowlands Stadium in New York/New Jersey (used about 40 days per year). About the same cost as the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University. Or, to be completely fair, for a bit less per person than the average Los Angeles price for a one bedroom home in the poorest part of that city.
Wow: Imagine wasting that kind of cash on our children.
Just a note about "Parent Revolution" - it is an "astroturf" (fake grass roots) "educational reform" organization primarily financed and coordinated by two charter school operating companies. It solicits contributions but won't even divulge who is on their board of directors.My argument here will surely not be that the LAUSD does not need to do many things to improve their schools - starting with the State of California admitting that their "Reagan [tax] Revolution" has inevitably moved the state from the forefront of US education to someplace near the bottom. My argument is, instead, that schools - the facilities themselves - really matter. (see this old post, and this one)
Listen, my alternative high school was located within the RFK Community School of its time. An educational "Taj Mahal." New Rochelle High School has a planetarium, multiple auditoriums and performing arts practice rooms, an accredited museum, one of the most extravagant voc ed facilities ever built. A magnificent library, almost every conceivable bell and whistle, and it is beautiful - with extravagant architecture from 1923 to 2008.
|New Rochelle High School (NY) - original design, front gates, view from across Huguenot Lakes, stadium and vocational/arts wing, arts and museum center.|
It was hard to feel like a prisoner there. It was hard not to have a certain true pride in your school. It was even hard to be completely bored all day. If you made even reasonably intelligent course choices, you had to have good moments..
The City of New Rochelle spent massively on this structure. Massively and repeatedly. Including choosing to reconstruct the original architecture after a devastating 1968 fire, as well as recladding the ugly 1950s additions during this century, in order to beautify the facility.
I'm convinced that this facility has been one prime reason that NRHS, a highly diverse urban school (New Rochelle has only one public high school, about 75,000 people live in the ten square mile city, it has a very large immigrant population), has kept itself among the top of the achievement heap in New York State over the past ninety years. (of course the district also has a very strong, engaged, teachers union - so that could be part of it too)
it's not all "Rob Petrie" and Ragtimein New Rochelle
So often we send our kids to school in concrete block bunkers, or collapsing old buildings, or uninspiring copies of 1956 factories. So often we tolerate, in our learning spaces, conditions we would not accept in our homes, in our restaurants, in our stores - much less our offices. So often we apply bizarre, twisted financial mis-information to our educational systems (if "the private sector" says it costs an average of $26,273 (US) to keep a student in class 15 hours per week, 32 weeks per year, what should we be spending to keep K-12 kids in school 35 hours per week, 40 weeks per year, plus transportation and special needs costs?). And it is time to stop all of that.
If education matters to us, as a society, we will make that apparent. We will spend what we need to. We will give our children great places to learn in. We will give them the technologies of our age. We will spend money to support continuous teacher learning. And we'll stop trying to get by on the cheap.
- Ira Socol