The D.C. school board has decided to reconsider a proposal for an "academic high school" for college-bound students that would offer a more rigorous curriculum than any other high school in the city.
The proposal for such a school failed last June during one of the school board's most bitter debates. Opponents of the proposal -- which included all but four school board members -- had labeled it an "elitist" plan that would drain other city high schools of their brightest students and best teachers.
But at a recent board meeting, member Frank Smith (Ward 1), who had supported the school with Linda Cropp (Ward 4), Carol Schwartz (Ward 3) and Alire B. Rieffel (Ward 2), proposed the item for reconsideration.
"The model academic high school would be a clear signal to our students that we value discipline, hard work and academic excellence," Smith said. "It would provide a strong recruiting ground for colleges and universities and will encourage both teachers and students in the lower grades to prepare for school there."
As recommended by Superintendent Vincent E. Reed last year, the high school would enroll a pre-selected group of about 900 students. Reed had hoped such a school would stem the flight of many average and above-average public school students to private schools.
His proposal calls for limiting the number of elective students may take and requiring at least two years of math and science, four years of both social science and English, three years of a modern language and three years of a classical one, such as Latin.
Students at the academic school would also be required to do some community work "to relieve the obvious boredom, potential for destructiveness and pent-up energy of teen-agers," according to the proposal. Reed had hoped to enlist as teachers professionals from private industry and the government.