Eastern High School is a low-performing D.C. high school that had an award-winning choir in the ’80s and ’90s. But the choir program has fallen victim to the “grating failure and corruption in the D.C. schools,” writes Marc Fisher in the Washington Post.
Broke, desperate for new voices, buffeted by the chaos of a school that has seen seven principals in seven years, ground down by the petty battles of a system that eats its own, the Eastern choir is on life support. The chorus had to cancel its spring concert last year because there were no tenors. Barely a handful of male singers remain from what was once a refuge for boys seeking a place to thrive away from the pressures of the street.
Boys who might have sung in the choir have dropped out of school.
“The school is in such a state of decline,” says Mary Ann Brownlow, who has served on the board for a decade. “There’s been such turnover and turmoil. . . . Unfortunately, the choir has always been a source of resentment among Eastern’s faculty, rather than seeing it as this school’s jewel.”
Students are fleeing to D.C. charter schools, writes Fisher, and the city’s best general high school is considering converting to a charter school to gain control of its budget.