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No Child Left Behind? These Kids Just Want to Come in From Cold

By Rodney Martin and Terry Johnson
Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Washington Post invited students to comment after aged systems at H.D. Woodson Senior High School failed Feb. 5. Here are two responses.

A 'Crazy' Time

Things have been crazy since last Monday when we had to leave our school because of flooding and loss of heat. We were sent to Evans Junior High School in overcrowded conditions, sharing space with another high school. If all of our nearly 800 students had come to school, there would not have been room for us in the 19 rooms we had to use there.

I hear we will be back in our school today, but we've already lost nearly two weeks of learning right at the end of this grading period.

While we were away from our building, it was a struggle just to get to school every day. Every morning we had to report to Woodson and be transported by bus to Evans. If students missed the bus, they had to walk, and it was a good 10-minute walk in the cold.

The first few days, the heat worked off and on at Evans. Last Thursday, we were so cold that the principal put us in the library, and we kept warm by opening the curtains and letting the sun warm us up. Students and teachers kept their jackets on the whole day.

Students also were being talked to in a disrespectful manner, which made it even harder to stand being at school. We were not able to take our regular classes with our regular teachers, and we didn't have our materials. This all stopped us from getting the education we need, and it made us feel that no one cares about us.

I think it is terrible that we had to go through this.

The worst part is that this really stopped us from learning. We were shoved into classes with students that we had never seen and without our regular teachers. We also did not have any textbooks or supplies. The teachers were doing their best to teach us, but most of us were not learning anything in these classes. I am really mad because I have a 4.0 grade point average that I want to maintain, but it is not going to happen like this.

Woodson is not the only D.C. school in terrible condition, with pipes that are old and worn, ceilings that are caving in and no computer access for all students. Right here in the nation's capital, schools are in shameful condition, but people either are not aware or do not care.

The president and Congress spend billions on war but are not willing to repair the schools in our capital. Our own city has also let us down. How can we justify spending over $650 million on a baseball stadium, when that money could have built better schools for us? Our school has been in the news all this week, and I know some people in power have seen our situation, but people did little to help us. I don't understand why we continue to be treated like second-class citizens.

Without a school building or proper materials, there is no way for us to learn or to raise our test scores. Once we go to college, most of us are going to be lost because of the poor education we have had in our school. Throughout this, some teachers supported us and helped us get our views heard.

Not to be too dramatic, but the situation we were in made me want to cry because we should not be suffering like this.

The city was supposed to build a new H.D. Woodson High School years ago, but it never happened. The city is changing, and it seems like lower income African American communities, like surrounding Clay Terrace, Lincoln Heights, Huntwood and others in the H.D. Woodson neighborhood, along with others across the city, are being pushed out by expensive new housing developments. We are just not a priority for the city. Any new school that will be built will not be for us.

Even if a new school is built, it will not happen in time for me to graduate from it. I am speaking out for the benefit of Woodson students who come after me because I know half of my classmates probably are already going to be lost. I want something better for the students coming after us so that they will not have to go through what we have been through the past two weeks.

We should not have to be worried about our education. We should be able to focus on positive things in the tradition and spirit of the Woodson Warrior.

-- RODNEY MARTIN

'Leaving a Whole School Behind'

I have serious concerns about my education. It's up to each student as individuals to learn and be successful, but we don't have the facilities to help us prepare for our futures. Woodson does not have the tools and materials that many other schools have. Therefore, we don't have the same opportunities.

We don't come from wealthy families that can send their children to fancy private schools. Many students like me get up every morning to get to school on time. We use public transportation that we have to pay for to take advantage of our free education, but our efforts do not further our education. The obstacles that we have to face daily discourage many from learning. Having to be transported from Woodson to Evans every morning only made us lose more valuable learning time.

As the only public high school in Ward 7, Woodson lacks the proper funding and support from the government. President Bush enacted a law called "No Child Left Behind," but he is not living up to his promise because he's leaving a whole school behind.

These issues go beyond Woodson. We live in the nation's capital, which is a city with a lot of wealth and power. So why are schools in the District not getting adequate funding and support to allow its students to receive a quality education?

As I thought about what my schoolmates and I faced the past two weeks, this poem came to me:

I don't understand

Why do we awake to come to school.

We come to learn but there are no tools.

No wonder our education is free,

'Cause we have nothing we need.

We come to school to learn, yes, we're trying.

After high school, there is not time.

I made it through school for 11 years.

Now, I hear, it's like nobody cares.

How in the hell can we be taught

If no supplies have yet been bought?

My school tells us to be the best,

But we have broken computers with no Internet.

Many tell me to chill and don't worry.

This is the end, I hope someone heard me.

-- TERRY JOHNSON

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