District schools open this week, plagued by the continuing decline in enrollment butbrightened by the prospect of a new competency-based curriculum which could help students learn better. Staff writer Carla Hall and staff photographer Linda Wheeler went downtown to ask city residents how well the District schools were educating children.
Jean E. Alexander, a public school librarian who lives on 3rd and G Streets, SW: "I'm proud to work for the school system. They're doing a really remarkable job. I just went to a meeting this morning with Vincent Reed, and there was a very positive feeling. They're doing so much in-service work with teachers."
Gael Doar, 26, who works in the Office of Special Projects at the White House, and lives on 4th and Independence, SE: "Everything I've ever read about the District schools is that they're not very good. But it's all hearsay. I suppose if I did have children I would not put them in the District schools! I would move to an area that had better schools."
Alma E. Green, 56, grandmother, mother, and housewife who lives at Farady and North Dakota, NE: "The schools are definitely doing their job. I've been to the schools and my grandchildren are in open and closed schools. I like the new things that bring education to the children. There's more choice about what and how you learn. But other children need structured schools and they are good too."
James J. Kennedy, 59, a newspaper vendor who lives at 17th and R, NW: "I think the schools are very good. They've got good teachers. Now you take the President's daughter. See how she gets along at the public schools she goes to. That made a big impression on me."
Ernes Minder, 14, student at Shaw Junior High School, who lives on the 900 block of S St., NW: "I like the school. Sometimes a teacher thinks if you act up you should get a bad mark, but if you just sit down and do your work, you'll get a good mark. Last year, they asked us what classes we wanted to take. I get to take metal shop and home economics."
Dennis A. Pratt, 25, an assistant manager at a McDonald's, who lives on the 3300 block of Mt. Pleasant St., NW: "No, I don't think they're doing their job. Number one, they don't have qualified teachers, and number two, I don't think the children have the interest they used to have. The teachers don't have the interest either. If their salaries aren't good enough, they come into school with half decent attitude and the students get a half decent education. From the administration down to the students, the attitude is poor."
Emory J. West, 27, a research associate for the National Urban League, who lives at 15th and Fuller, NW: "I don't think you can look at what the school system is doing apart from community. Given the job that's being done in the homes and community, I don't think the school system is any worse than other aspects of the community. And that's not necessarily good."