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D.C. Slow To Reduce Its Ranks Of Jobless

In several categories D.C. schools are worse than the public schools in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Atlanta, according to a U.S. Education Department study.

The result in the Shipley Terrace area is that the longer students stay in the neighborhood public schools, the further they fall behind the national average. In the Stanford Achievement Test, second-graders at Green Elementary scored just below the national average in 2002, about the 39th percentile, based on statistics from GreatSchools Inc., which compiles information about schools. Sixth-graders at Hart Middle School scored at the 27th percentile. Tenth-graders at Ballou High School scored at only the 19th percentile in reading, meaning that the average student there scored better than 19 percent of students nationally.

Map Percentage of residents unemployed in 2000
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Metro Business: Coverage of Washington area businesses and the local economy.
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Census 2000
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"Job training can't make up for 12 years of not having a good education," said Irish, the District employment services director.

As Shaw came up the escalator of the Georgia Avenue Metro stop at 7:55 that Saturday morning, the bus that was to dump her off at her new workplace was just pulling away. The next bus showed up 40 minutes later.

She had left her house at 6:50 a.m. and showed up at her workplace, about seven miles away, at 8:45. She sat at the front desk of the retirement home, walking around the building every hour for the next 12, in shoes that squeezed her feet. Shaw got home that night, 18 hours after she first walked out her front door, and earned $108 before taxes for her efforts.

A few weeks later, she still had the job and she talked about how proud she and her family were: "I hear it from my Mom every day that she's proud of me. And I hear it from my sister, and that keeps me going."

But then on a morning in late July, after Lacey Shaw had spent the night with her mother in the hospital, she called her bosses to tell them she was running behind. She said no one called her back to tell her whether to come in a couple of hours late or not come in at all that day. She stayed home waiting for the call, but the security company had expected her to come in. After six weeks, Shaw was fired from her first job.

"I didn't ask enough questions at orientation," she said last week. "What we should do if something like this happens, that sort of thing."

So last week, she began interviewing for an administrative-assistant job and jobs at other security companies. She borrowed money from her sister to pay the Metro fare to the interviews and set out to other neighborhoods, again.

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