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, May 31, 2007

From email, 11/30/2005

This is something I wrote in email, based on some political gossip. I don't normally repeat such gossip, but the provenance was quite good, so I thought it was worth repeating.

One piece of the latest under the table political scuttlebutt is that Congress is considering creating another Control Board to take over the DC Public School System. This would allow for the Federal City Council supported new group to take over managing the school property portfolio, and would allow them to release properties to either developers or charter schools without much interference. This is very worrisome.

Now, this is happening but through a Mayoral takeover. (EdBuild got a big contract to manage school property. See "Watchdog questions top-ranking District official’s lobbying efforts," from the Examiner.) And possibly (depending on whether or not a citizen-initiated referendum will make it onto the ballot) through Congressional approval without a citizen vote on the change in the charter.

After I wrote that, I got some calls from journalists, and emails from some of those named in the email...

In thinking more about what's happening now, it's interesting how much this town favors the seeming quick fix. Surprisingly, in Superintendent Janey it seems as if the kinds of plans and implementation necessary to fix the schools are now present.

-- DC Public Schools Planning Process
-- Master Education Plan
-- Master Facilities Plan

Sure it took some time, but quality does take time.

And I would probably have lots of comments and questions if I had the time to really go through the plans. Plus, I think that the public assets of our schools need to be better linked with other public assets, and that the community should have more access to the schools as resources for learning and community building, but...

And just like it will take at least 10 more years to fix many of the DC government agencies that became bloated (etc.) in the period after Home Rule--i.e., DCRA--it will take a long time to fix the schools. I don't think it makes sense to dump the Janey initiatives.

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