The think system

The District of Columbia is using Professor Harold Hill’s think system to improve its public schools, setting itself up for lawsuits when happy thoughts don’t create better results. So writes Rick Hess of American Enterprise Institute in the Washington Post:

If your city’s schools were spending more than $15,000 per student per year to produce horrendous academic results, a broken special education system and an inept facilities program, what would you do?

Well, if you’re the D.C. Council, you would embrace hollow rhetoric and invite the lawyers to sue your pants off. Just in time for the fall elections, the council is poised to amend the Home Rule Act by requiring that the city provide “free, high-quality public schools.”

Mayoral candidate Adrian M. Fenty worries people are leaving D.C. in search of better schools. “I think we raise the standards, and then we meet the standards.”

But nobody agrees on how to define “high quality,” Hess points out.

Nationally, only three states promise “high-quality” schools. All three — Florida, Illinois and Virginia — have been sued based on that language.

D.C. can’t provide medium-quality schools, Hess writes. Guaranteeing “high quality” is a great way to throw the district into the courts, which have a lousy record when it comes to running schools.

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  1. Twill00 says:

    I could see a lawsuit forcing charter schools into existence in D.C., since school districts improve more when there is competition.

    And if there’s $15K per student available, I could certainly see teachers taking, say, 5-7 students and teaching them intensively.

  2. Just because the DC doesn’t provide high quality public schools doesn’t mean it can’t. In fact, I think it’s a lie to say that they don’t because there are many quality charter schools in DC.
    However, I do agree that this language is too vague and sets DCPS up for some serious law suits.

  3. Jeez, defining “high quality” is easy.

    Divide the number of kids on the waiting list by the number of kids in the school. If you get a number greater then one, it’s a high quality school.

    Where do I get my grant check?

  4. Wayne Martin says:

    If the DC schools are paid for like the DC city government is (a grant from Congress), the who will ultimately pay to settle these suits? Well, maybe insurance companies, but more than likely — the US taxpayer.

  5. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Anyone know the academic record of segregated schools?