Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

How come no one is asking me to submit a contract to run the Office of Planning or the Department of Transportation?

This is totally and completely insane. Is the DC Public School System truly incapable of running the schools? See "Rhee Lists 6 Firms Eyed To Help Run 10 Campuses" from the Washington Post.

There may not be a plan for improving the public schools under the jurisdiction of the DC Public School System (see "GAO report criticizes D.C. schools' lack of strategic plan," from the Washington Post about the GAO audit of the school system, which declared that they could find no plan in place for school improvement), but it appears that there definitely is a plan for outsourcing, if not destroying the public school system.

From the article:

An official from Friendship Public Charter Schools in the District, one of the organizations asked to submit a proposal, said Rhee wants contractors to take over one grade in the fall and then run entire schools beginning in 2009. ...

In the 30-page plan Rhee sent to schools, which was obtained by The Washington Post, she for the first time names the six companies under consideration and outlines the areas the companies would oversee. Rhee wrote that she does not consider the arrangement "privatizing the schools." The schools, she said, would remain under her control and enter into a partnership with the companies.

"The partner must have responsibility for school operations, managing all aspects of the school," Rhee wrote. "Different partners approach this task differently. Some largely work with existing teachers and administrators, helping them learn more effective ways of increasing student achievement. . . . And some will ask for a fresh start, asking to hire teachers and administrators who have not worked at the school."

Although this is about schools failing under the terms of the No Child Left Behind Act, and this is not an unheard of step. And we can't argue that either the DCOP or the DDOT are failing organizations. Still, in some states, the historic preservation office is contracted to nonprofit organizations, such as the Ohio Historical Association.

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