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James Walton, building manager for Wheatley Elementary, keeps aging boiler system running.
(Dudley M. Brooks/Washington Post)

D.C. Schools Resource Page

The District's schools suffer from myriad ailments, from a deteriorated physical plant to a profusion of red tape. Former schools Chief Executive Julius W. Becton Jr. and the congressionally appointed school Board of Trustees were directed to sort through the confusion and come up with solutions by July 2000. But Becton left office on April 30 of this year, leaving his successor, Arlene Ackerman, to search for solutions. Use this page as a resource for following the schools crisis.

Overview | Personalities | Documents | Schools Online | Web Links

The latest Post coverage of D.C. schools.

Read the Series: A System in Crisis
The Washington Post's five-part series in February 1997, A System in Crisis, provided an overview of the problems facing D.C. schools, including collapsing buildings, a bloated bureaucracy and a failing special-education system.

Arlene Ackerman
Arlene Ackerman became schools head in May.
  • Arlene Ackerman, the school system's chief academic officer, succeeded Gen. Julius W. Becton Jr. on May 1.
  • The Post profiled then-schools head Julius Becton Jr., described how he handled his responsibilities and detailed what people were saying about him a year after his takeover of the school system. Becton retired on April 30, and some critics said he had lacked vision.
  • Judge Kaye Christian crusaded against fire code violations.
  • The appointed Board of Trustees.
  • The elected Board of Education.

    D.C. schools online:

    Ballou High School
    Banneker High School
    D.C. Street Academy
    H. D. Woodson High School

    Hine Junior High School
    Kelly Miller Junior High School
    Backus Middle School

    Bancroft Elementary School
    Barnard Elementary School
    Murch Elementary School
    Oyster Elementary School
  • Documents

  • In November 1997, the city and a parents' group came to a legal settlement that could end school closings.
  • In October 1997, a parents' group asked parents what they thought of the education D.C. schools provide.
  • Judge Kaye Christian announced in July which schools may have delayed openings in 1997 because of fire code violations.
  • In July 1997, the Board of Trustees censured their only elected member, Don Reeves.
  • A May 1997 plan to fix the public schools was written by top administrators and rejected by the Board of Trustees.
  • See the list of 11 schools that closed (and the five that survived), along with the rationale for closing each of the schools and detailed physical condition reports for each.
  • See how a real estate firm valued the buildings, and why they might be wrong.
  • The financial control board's scathing November 1996 report with statistics concluded that the longer students spend in D.C. schools, the less likely they are to succeed.
  • See how SAT scores in the District compared to those from suburban schools in 1996.

    Web Links
    D.C. Public Schools
    School curriculum
    D.C. control board

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