Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Newton's Taj Majal

While reading about the new “Taj Mahal” high school for 1,600 students, being built in super-wealthy Newton, Mass., at the estimated cost of $200 million, I couldn’t help but think back to the 19-day hunger strike in the immigrant Chicago neighborhood of Little Village. There, faced with huge and overcrowded schools, hunger- striking mothers ultimately won the battle. There was finally a wonderful new modern campus of small schools for this underserved neighborhood.
According to Bloomberg.com:
Newton, a city of 83,000 located seven miles west of Boston, was settled in 1630 as part of Cambridge, the home of Harvard University. Residents enjoy two symphony orchestras and a median household income of $101,001, twice the national figure, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. At $112,875 a pupil, Newton North will be the most costly school in state history, according to the authority.
No hunger strike needed here.
Housed Katrina evacuees in toxic Philly school

Now we learn that former Philly schools CEO Paul Vallas used a known toxic school site to house evacuees from Hurricane Katrina. Buried in the middle of an unrelated Daily News story, is this shocking information about Wanamaker Middle School, which is still on a list of 12 Philadelphia schools that have elevated levels of toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the electric transformers at the school.
The district closed Wanamaker in June 2005, citing declining enrollment and environmental issues. But the building was reopened a few months later to temporarily shelter Hurricane Katrina evacuees.
More irony--Vallas now runs the district in New Orleans.

Inside Chicago’s school “Renaissance”

Rev. Meeks and other black ministers are calling for a school boycott on the first day of school to bring attention to the gross inequities between inner-city schools and predominantly white north shore schools 6 miles up the lakefront. School reformers and CEO Duncan are critical of the boycott idea. They say it won’t help kids pass their upcoming tests. But what’s their alternative strategy?

From ABC News:
"I grew up in the CPS system, and as a father, it's really disgusting to send a child to a school that doesn't even have toilet paper [or has] 20-year-old books. It's despicable," parent Lewis Roy said.
Read the rest and watch the video here.

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