Tuesday, May 27, 2008

More art / less weight

Over the weekend the Post had another story about the budget for next year for DC public schools. Once again I'm split on the news. In the past there was a rate of $8770 per student given to the schools, and the budget was left to the principal's discretion. (Editor's Note: Microsoft Word is telling me that "principal's" is incorrect...kids, don't believe all the edits Bill Gates throws your way) (Editor's Note Mach II: if anyone out there knows how to make Word 2007 look like the old Word, let me know, it's driving me nuts, argh) Under this system, some students were weighted differently based on special needs (ELL, low income students, special ed, etc.) so that schools with more complex situations had funding to cover everyone's needs.

The per student amount is still in place, but the weighting based on need is replaced by specific staffing for each school. This is the part that I like: one goal is to make sure that there are art and music classes in all schools. After hearing atrocious suggestions during the Bush administration to cut arts funding (in schools, in society), it's nice to hear someone seeing the value in art and music classes. Without a doubt my music class in grade school begat my middle school music life, and my middle school ensemble classes begat my high school concert / marching band experience. And let's be serious here, this begat my love of punk rock and playing in bands. Without begatting you to death, I must add that now, years after I quit touring with bands, the ability to go home, pick up a guitar and make music after a long day of teaching...it's the only reason I'm still (somewhat) sane. Make the connection - music classes in school = more sanity for future teachers.

Returning to education, my only issue here is, in the same way that the Federal government can't know the needs of every last district, I'm not sure DCPS HQ can know the needs of each specific school. Maybe there's a happy medium? Include the principals in the budget creation? Or vice versa? I'm going to follow this one over the summer, I'm assuming there will be some battles over this one.

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