Kids in Top-Spending DC Schools at Bottom in Reading, Math

Thursday, 15 May 2014 06:11 PM

By John A. Oswald

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Public schools in the nation's capital spend nearly $30,000 per pupil annually, but 83 percent of the eighth graders fail to hit the "proficient" mark in reading and 81 percent fall short in math, reports

Washington, D. C., students came in dead last in both math and reading proficiency in 2013 in the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests administered nationwide.

The tests rate students as "basic," "proficient," and "advanced" and score them on a scale of 500. Charter schools are not included.

Among large cities, the reading average score for eighth graders is 258. DC students averaged 245. In math, the average is 276 nationally; D.C. hit 260.

It's an outrage that the nation's capital has public schools that do so bad, says Christian News Service Editor-in-Chief Terence P. Jeffrey.

"These are the government schools in our nation's capital city — where for decades politicians of both parties have obstreperously pushed for more federal involvement in education and more federal spending on education," he writes.

"Government has manifestly failed the families who must send their children to these schools, and the children who must attend them."

The idea that money can't readily fix America's most troubled public schools was illustrated in another recent report in The New Yorker.

The magazine revealed that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million gift to the Newark, N.J., school system has so far produced little progress. And more than $20 million was spent just on expensive consultant contracts.

"Everybody's getting paid, but Raheem still can't read," Essex County, N.J., Urban League President Vivian Cox Fraser told the magazine.

Jeffrey also notes that at $29,349 per pupil, DC spends more than any other big city.

These five cities spent the most per pupil in 2010-2011, according to an analysis of 21 urban school districts by the National Center for Education Statistics:

Washington, D.C.: $29,349
New York City: $23,966
Boston: $21,871
Cleveland: $19,497
Atlanta: $18,908

Dismal student performance in traditional public schools has some lawmakers in Washington pushing for change.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is pressing The Success and Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act that would let states use federal dollars to fund charter schools. The bill has bipartisan support and passed the House Education and Workforce Committee in early April.

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