The D.C. Federation of Civic Associations endorsed the District school system's proposal for a separate "preparatory" high school last week, but wants the school phased out once it becomes workable and its programs incorporated in all local high schools.
Charging that existing schools do not provide an environment conductive to intellectual development, Minnie Woodson, the Education Committee chairperson and a representative of the Northeast Boundary Association, introduced the measure by saying, "Students who wish to work are in a fractured atmosphere."
Woodson said peer pressure in schools fosters academic laziness. "A serious student has a need to feel others around him support him. Until other (less motivated) students start to accept hard work, then this school is needed," she said, speaking before a meeting of 40 of the federation's neighborhood delegates.
The measure did not go without comment from other delegates who criticized the plan as elitist. A similar view has also been expressed by some D.C. school board members, who must approve or turn down the plan before school opens in September.
Woodson defended the school by saying special schools are already in existence but none geared specifically to academic needs. "We already have separate (special) schools except for those of mind," she stated, referring to the Duke Ellington High School for the study of the arts.
"We need an academic model to work toward that will be eliminated by incorporation into the entire system," she said. The federation then voted approval of the measure.
In other action, federation president Everett W. Scott resolved to write Mayor Marion Barry to reaffirm the group's concern over lack of a comprehensive city zoning plan. "We have been involved with the need for a plan for several years and so far little has been done," he said.
The letter will ask the mayor when a city plan is due to come before him for approval.
"Because there is no comprehensive city plan, the zoning commission makes the city plan," said John Woodson, chairman of the City Planning and Urban Development Committee, a representative of the Northeast Boundary Association and husband of Minnie Woodson.
"It is imperative that we have a city plan so (the zoning commission) doesn't destroy our communities," said Albert U. Blair, a representative from the Woodbridge Civic Association.