Last week, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced his latest and greatest plan to solve D.C.’s crisis in education: the D.C schools will extend their reach in 2012, offering “early childhood education” to children as young as 6 months of age.
The mayor believes that D.C. babies and toddlers will experience educational success only if school system employees--or subcontractors--are around to prod their intellectual growth. After all, what could be more crucial to a baby’s development than a specially assigned bureaucrat, right?
Even from an educational perspective, the proposal lacks credibility. The D.C. public schools are among the worst in the nation: fewer than half of DC public school children can read or do math at the most basic level. (Ironically, the D.C. government spends more money per pupil than almost any other state in the union.) Improvements in test scores have been erratic and rising scores at some schools generated suspicion of test-tampering by school administrators or teachers.
The academic failure of the school system, however, pales in comparison to its moral failure. While D.C. schools can’t teach math and reading, they manage to while away hours of class time on “conflict resolution, STDs, HIV/AIDS and respectful communication.” The schools have plenty of condoms to offer, but morality? Self-restraint? Virtue? Those are in short supply.
But the real missing piece in the D.C. schools has nothing to do with the Department of Education; it has everything to do with “family.”