L.A. opening $578 million public school

Victor Joecks

The poster school for government excess
California has some of the worst test scores in the nation. Only 54 percent of its fourth graders can read at a basic level or better, and only 24 percent are at a proficient or better level.

Instead of spending money on improving teacher quality (the most important school-controlled factor in student achievement), the L.A. Unified School District is about to open the most expensive school in America.

Next month’s opening of the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools will be auspicious for a reason other than its both storied and infamous history as the former Ambassador Hotel, where the Democratic presidential contender was assassinated in 1968.

With an eye-popping price tag of $578 million, it will mark the inauguration of the nation’s most expensive public school ever.

The K-12 complex to house 4,200 students has raised eyebrows across the country as the crème de la crème of “Taj Mahal” schools, $100 million-plus campuses boasting both architectural panache and deluxe amenities.

“There’s no more of the old, windowless cinderblock schools of the ’70s where kids felt, ‘Oh, back to jail,'” said Joe Agron, editor-in-chief of American School & University, a school construction journal. “Districts want a showpiece for the community, a really impressive environment for learning.”

Not everyone is similarly enthusiastic.

“New buildings are nice, but when they’re run by the same people who’ve given us a 50 percent dropout rate, they’re a big waste of taxpayer money,” said Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution who sits on the California Board of Education. “Parents aren’t fooled.”

A great line from Allah Pundit sums this atrocity up perfectly:

So there you go, kids. There won’t be any jobs waiting for you when you get out, but you’ll have the time of your life until then. Enjoy the infrastructure!

Fortunately, there are a lot of people doing great work on reforms that actually do increase student achievement. For instance, watch this ReasonTV interview with Madeline Sackley, the director of the school documentary “The Lottery.”

Find out more about “The Lottery” here.