Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Educational Alamo

One of my sisters sent me a link to this open letter, recently published in The Washington Post, from a Texas school district superintendent.  It is in the style of the famous William Barrett Travis letter from the Alamo. 

Gentlemen,

I am besieged, by a hundred or more of the Legislators under Rick Perry. I have sustained a continual Bombardment of increased high-stakes testing and accountability-related bureaucracy and a cannonade of gross underfunding for 10 years at least and have lost several good men and women. The ruling party has demanded another round of pay cuts and furloughs, while the school house be put to the sword and our children's lunch money be taken in order to keep taxes low for big business. I am answering the demand with a (figurative) cannon shot, and the Texas flag still waves proudly from our flag pole. I shall never surrender the fight for the children of Perrin.


Then, I call on you my legislators in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch. The enemy of public schools is declaring that spending on a shiny new high-stakes testing system is "non-negotiable"; that, in essence, we must save the test but not the teachers. The enemy of public schools is saying that Texas lawmakers won't raise 1 penny in taxes in order to save our schools.

If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and fight for the kids in these classrooms like an educator who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his community. Make education a priority!

With all due respect and urgency,

John Kuhn
Superintendent
Perrin-Whitt CISD

I went to sleep last night thinking of this letter, and like most weak-willed, highly suggestible people, my dreams were centered around my bedtime reading. 
So in last night's dream, Superintendent John Kuhn and his ragged band of teachers, curriculum advisors, diversity consultants, defensive line coaches, guidance counselors and administrators were at The Alamo, holding off Santa Anna, 1,500 Mexican troops, a few Tea Party protesters, a horde of Chinese bill collectors, and a piper demanding to be paid. 
Somewhere in the middle of the mass of attackers was governor Rick Perry, frantically trying to move to the front of the procession.

A lone rider appeared on the horizon, carrying a white flag and a message from taxpayers.  Santa Anna graciously ordered his troops to give the messenger safe passage into the Alamo. 

After the Alamo's defenders verified that the messenger wasn't trying to use a School Voucher to gain admission, he was allowed into their fortress. 

Here's the text of his letter from an unknown taxpayer....

To John Kuhn and the brave defenders of the Public School Alamo,

We appreciate your willingness to sacrifice your lives and careers for a broken system, but we have no troops available for your relief.  6,000 of our fighting men and women are stationed in England, defending Great Britain from the French.  We have 70,000 troops in a permanent defense of West Germany, still heroically keeping Munich safe from Nikita Kruschev.  A huge number of soldiers are on permanent alert in South Korea, keeping our manufacturing competitors safe from their enemies. 
The defense services we provide to the rest of the world at no charge, well, those armies aren't cheap. 

All we can afford to offer are some suggestions.  Your Federal, State, and Local spending per pupil is now approaching $11,000.00.  Assuming a maximum class size of 21 kids, that's a cost of $230,000.00 per classroom.  Is there any number that would be enough?  Can you name a sum that wouldn't be consumed instantly? 
Do you think you could possibly save your system by throwing some administrators and educrats over the walls of your besieged fortress?  Wouldn't it be fun to throw some Federal consultants to the Mexican Army?  Unless you're already paying your teachers something like $175,000.00 per year, those hangers-on and parasites are the ones eating you out of existence. 
The Federal and State mandates are only happening because you have allowed them to happen.  They've taken your loyalty (and votes) for granted. 
Lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.  Lie down with the government, you get up with burdensome software contracts, No Child Left Behind programs, and mandatory re-training every summer.

Second, have you considered letting people have a choice?  Your stubborn defense of your educational Alamo has created more White Flight suburbs than the most ardent segregationist could've imagined.  The Dallas ISD is even experiencing a wave of "Black Flight".
Please, please, please, for the love of God and all things holy, let the people have a voucher system so they can send their kids to non-government schools of their own choosing.  
You have probably noticed that there aren't very many families rushing to your aid.  In fact, some of the people you think are your supporters, especially those who can't afford a White Flight suburb, are secretly trying on Mexican Army uniforms, just to see how they fit.
As Mark Twain once said, "Almost any man worthy of his salt would fight to defend his home, but no one ever heard of a man going to war for his boarding house." 
Your best teachers could then make far more money and experience fewer headaches, including those headaches brought on by politically-connected software contractors. 

Third, every military campaign needs an element of propaganda to help win the hearts and minds of the people back home.  The taxpayers need to understand that your people are making sacrifices.  Have the  Alamo defenders considered how their exemption from Social Security plays with the tax-paying public, the people who are having to pour more and more money into the Gaping Maw Of The Beast? 
Do those in the private sector get to retire with a pension at age 53? 
People are wondering if your benefits package is truly sustainable, a question that NPR's "Sustainability Desk" has never covered. 
Mr. Kuhn, please encourage those in Fortress Alamo to drop their Cadillac Health Plans, their Social Security exemptions and their guaranteed retirements. 
Or you could just throw yourself to the Mexicans.  That might be more pleasant.

Fourth, why are your Fort Worth schools churning out high school graduates who can't read, write, or understand a damn tape measure? 

In closing, Mr. Kuhn, we appreciate your willingness to sacrifice yourself for the system.  Yes, you are besieged, but only at the front door.  You have a clear exit available.  Look in other directions, away from the Mexican Army and the software developers and Rick Perry.  There's a big world out there, a world of people and companies that trade things, sell things, cook food, provide services, transport things, and manufacture cars, clothing, homes and fruitstands. 

The large corporations that you have criticized for wanting to keep more of their own money, despite the fact that you....just want a lot more of it?  Those large corporations are already paying one of the highest effective tax rates in the world, but they would probably find a way to hire someone with your talents. 

Some of them would probably like to open a school.

The exit door is open.  No one is blocking your exit, no one is blocking a voucher program, no one is blocking school choice except....

You.

The picture of Mr. Kuhn defending The Alamo from taxpayers came from here

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't have any assistant superintendents or assistant principals. I have no curriculum specialists. I have: 1 superintendent, 2 principals (1 at each campus), 30 teachers, 3 lunch ladies, 5 bus drivers, 3 custodians, 2.5 maintenance men, 3 secretaries, and 1 librarian. And 6 aides. No counselor. 380 students. That's all I can think of. My Cadillac health plan has a $1000 deductible and $30 copays. It costs me $300/month, I think.

Anonymous said...

The target administrative cost ratio at my school is 0.06% while the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas tells schools to keep their administrative cost ratio under 0.2%. I have given myself a 10% pay cut for next year. I will be the CEO of a service-oriented business with a $4.5 million budget, a fleet of 10 school buses, 107,000 square feet of facilities, and 60 employees. I made $85k this year. I'll make $8500 less next year. I'm not complaining--I know the economy is bad. I'm preparing to cut up to $500,000 out of my payroll of $2.5 million. I'm not complaining, again, just giving my perspective. (Where does the other $2 million go? $1 million goes to Austin for "Robin Hood" equalization payment. The remaining $900,000 pays for all supplies, electricity, gasoline, etc.) My HS was built in 1961. My elem was built in 1981. My jh was built in 1975. My fb stadium was built in 1961. I don't have a track. I do have a new gym that local voters approved a bond for 3 years ago. Voters also approved a $4 million bond last year to install new hvac, new flooring, new restrooms in my ag barn, to buy 2 buses, and a new livestock trailer, along with remodeling in certain areas.

Anonymous said...

If the state wants vouchers, I have no problem with that. I run a quality school and will fare with competition. Believe it or not, I am not a Democrat. However--here is my complaint--cynical legislators are playing to the small government crowd by cutting the funding that pays teachers. Fine--I'll deal with that, BUT at the same time they are saying that funding for the state STAAR testing bureaucracy with its 2000+ pages of manuals and it's ridiculously convoluted reporting requirements is "nonnegotiable" (their words). I'm ready to take my cut, but I don't much understanding saving the bureaucracy and not the actual classroom teachers. Yes, I am asking for them to find revenue--they have $9 billion in the Rainy Day fund, which they set aside "to avoid reductions in services in the event of unforeseen revenue decline." In 2005, they reduced property taxes by 1/3 and told schools that reduction would be covered by a new business franchise tax. That tax came with loopholes that means it generates only 1/8 of what we originally had with property taxes. I know I won't get sympathy from you for that, but you have to understand my angle--I am tasked with providing a service with a certain level of quality, and I'm tasked with complying with hundreds of unfunded mandates. I am a taxpayer too, and I would love to pay less in taxes. But tell me--how little do folks like you think I can get by on? You mentioned $11,000 per student, but my Target Revenue (the sum total of all local and state revenue Austin let's me have) is $4900 per student. I can operate on less, but will they reduce the number of mandates? Will I still have to read, interpret, disseminate, and act upon 2000 pages of testing manuals? Plus, as a dad, when should I speak up and say, hey, I want my son to get a quality education? Texas is 43rd in pet pupil spending before the cuts. My 6 year old learned to read this year--public schools aren't just pure waste. There is value in them. The scenario you painted is truly horrific, but it isn't reflective of the reality of my school. Maybe you're in a union state. I'm not.

Anonymous said...

Anyway, I hope this helps you understand why I wrote the letter. I'm not a big government leech on the system. I'm just a guy that somehow wound up in education. I'm going to stick up for my kids. They need school, and in my small town my school is all they've got. I want it to be good. Let me tell you the worst thing about Texas's system: in 2005 they had to fix school funding because it was purely based on property taxes. This meant that high land value areas could raise tons of money more than poor areas by adding one penny to their tax rate. So that created inequities. To fix this, the state locked each school in to a Target Revenue. This Target Revenue guarantees all schools the same revenue year after year. If local values drop, the state ups it's share of your Target Revenue. If local values rise, the state will reduce it's share. All good so far EXCEPT they didn't want to anger wealthy areas. So they grandfathered wealthy areas in at higher Target Revenues. So 100 miles from me is a school that gets $8000 per student. This was "supposed" to be temporary. That is why my letter said I'm grossly underfunded--I'm below the state average Target Revenue. The highest is $13k per student. This is unfair to my school, see. So all I really want is for them to get cut more than me. But they are saying all schools will be cut equally "to spread out the pain." I will take my cuts--I know we're broke as a state. But why won't they cut the superfunded districts by more? And why won't they cut the standardized testing budget?

Public schools are not as wasteful as you think. At least in Texas. We have a FIRST rating that rates our financial management. My school got 5 stars out of 5 on that measure. We also have a FAST efficiency rating. I got 3 stars, which means I'm average efficiency. I can do better, but I passed. My staff-student and my teacher-student ratios are both within the acceptable ranges. Man, I'm running a tight ship--it can get tighter (and will), but still I have people with pitchforks saying I'm the problem just because I work in a public school. You're right, I could work in the private sector. Maybe I should just because public school teachers have been branded as the enemy; but I really find a lot of personal satisfaction in getting small town kids (like I used to be) into college. Bring on the vouchers, if it will get people like you to support the mission of teaching our kids. I'm up to competition; my school will fare well.

Anonymous said...

The target administrative cost ratio at my school is 0.06% while the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas tells schools to keep their administrative cost ratio under 0.2%. I have given myself a 10% pay cut for next year. I will be the CEO of a service-oriented business with a $4.5 million budget, a fleet of 10 school buses, 107,000 square feet of facilities, and 60 employees. I made $85k this year. I'll make $8500 less next year. I'm not complaining--I know the economy is bad. I'm preparing to cut up to $500,000 out of my payroll of $2.5 million. I'm not complaining, again, just giving my perspective. (Where does the other $2 million go? $1 million goes to Austin for "Robin Hood" equalization payment. The remaining $900,000 pays for all supplies, electricity, gasoline, etc.) My HS was built in 1961. My elem was built in 1981. My jh was built in 1975. My fb stadium was built in 1961. I don't have a track. I do have a new gym that local voters approved a bond for 3 years ago. Voters also approved a $4 million bond last year to install new hvac, new flooring, new restrooms in my ag barn, to buy 2 buses, and a new livestock trailer, along with remodeling in certain areas.

If the state wants vouchers, I have no problem with that. I run a quality school and will fare with competition. Believe it or not, I am not a Democrat. However--here is my complaint--cynical legislators are playing to the small government crowd by cutting the funding that pays teachers. Fine--I'll deal with that, BUT at the same time they are saying that funding for the state STAAR testing bureaucracy with its 2000+ pages of manuals and it's ridiculously convoluted reporting requirements is "nonnegotiable" (their words). I'm ready to take my cut, but I don't much understanding saving the bureaucracy and not the actual classroom teachers. Yes, I am asking for them to find revenue--they have $9 billion in the Rainy Day fund, which they set aside "to avoid reductions in services in the event of unforeseen revenue decline." In 2005, they reduced property taxes by 1/3 and told schools that reduction would be covered by a new business franchise tax. That tax came with loopholes that means it generates only 1/8 of what we originally had with property taxes. I know I won't get sympathy from you for that, but you have to understand my angle--I am tasked with providing a service with a certain level of quality, and I'm tasked with complying with hundreds of unfunded mandates. I am a taxpayer too, and I would love to pay less in taxes. But tell me--how little do folks like you think I can get by on? You mentioned $11,000 per student, but my Target Revenue (the sum total of all local and state revenue Austin let's me have) is $4900 per student. I can operate on less, but will they reduce the number of mandates? Will I still have to read, interpret, disseminate, and act upon 2000 pages of testing manuals? Plus, as a dad, when should I speak up and say, hey, I want my son to get a quality education? Texas is 43rd in pet pupil spending before the cuts. My 6 year old learned to read this year--public schools aren't just pure waste. There is value in them. The scenario you painted is truly horrific, but it isn't reflective of the reality of my school. Maybe you're in a union state. I'm not.

Anonymous said...

Anyway, I hope this helps you understand why I wrote the letter. I'm not a big government leech on the system. I'm just a guy that somehow wound up in education. I'm going to stick up for my kids. They need school, and in my small town my school is all they've got. I want it to be good. Let me tell you the worst thing about Texas's system: in 2005 they had to fix school funding because it was purely based on property taxes. This meant that high land value areas could raise tons of money more than poor areas by adding one penny to their tax rate. So that created inequities. To fix this, the state locked each school in to a Target Revenue. This Target Revenue guarantees all schools the same revenue year after year. If local values drop, the state ups it's share of your Target Revenue. If local values rise, the state will reduce it's share. All good so far EXCEPT they didn't want to anger wealthy areas. So they grandfathered wealthy areas in at higher Target Revenues. So 100 miles from me is a school that gets $8000 per student. This was "supposed" to be temporary. That is why my letter said I'm grossly underfunded--I'm below the state average Target Revenue. The highest is $13k per student. This is unfair to my school, see. So all I really want is for them to get cut more than me. But they are saying all schools will be cut equally "to spread out the pain." I will take my cuts--I know we're broke as a state. But why won't they cut the superfunded districts by more? And why won't they cut the standardized testing budget?

Public schools are not as wasteful as you think. At least in Texas. We have a FIRST rating that rates our financial management. My school got 5 stars out of 5 on that measure. We also have a FAST efficiency rating. I got 3 stars, which means I'm average efficiency. I can do better, but I passed. My staff-student and my teacher-student ratios are both within the acceptable ranges. Man, I'm running a tight ship--it can get tighter (and will), but still I have people with pitchforks saying I'm the problem just because I work in a public school. You're right, I could work in the private sector. Maybe I should just because public school teachers have been branded as the enemy; but I really find a lot of personal satisfaction in getting small town kids (like I used to be) into college. Bring on the vouchers, if it will get people like you to support the mission of teaching our kids. I'm up to competition; my school will fare well.

John Kuhn

Anonymous said...

I get $4900 Target Revenue per student. Not even close to $11k you mention in your article.

Rochelle Gregory said...

This letter is good. Really good. And, I think the goals of both letters are the same: providing a sound, solid, meaningful education for students. (However, I understand that educators do have it better than other professionals, and worse than others.)

I think there's plenty of room for improvement; however, I don't think that our schools are as wasteful as the public imagines they are. Or our teachers are the fat-cats that the general public likes to believes them to be.

In regard to what our students are learning after leaving high school: I can say that I teach some of the most challenging students coming to college. They have no money, they haven't gotten into a four-year university, or they are returning to school after a long hiatus. These students aren't nearly as uneducated and unprepared as the general public would like to believe.

I wonder what your parents were saying about you and your generation some 20-30 years ago? They are bright, articulate, and scared that there is nothing out there for them. The presumption that our students are significantly lacking fully supports legislator platitudes and expensive new technologies; however, it does not reflect the kind of students I work with day in and day out.

Still, both letters--and perspectives--are very important in this debate. And, very well-written. Both are more alike than different. And, the aims are the same. I think we need to wade through the negative biases and see that more often.

Thanks--
R

Anonymous said...

Our exemption from social security also means we don't collect social security.

Now, let me explain a chief point of the letter--they are cutting the Foundation School Fund by $10 billion. But they are saying cuts to the bureaucracy of the state STAAR standardized testing program are "non-negotiable." Now, I understand that I'll see cuts. I'm dealing with it. I'm looking over programs. Will I cut out pre-K? Will I increase class sizes? Will they let me increase class sizes? (With the 22:1 student teacher ratio required in grades K-4 by state law, a small school like mine runs into this problem--we have 23 4th graders. Guess what that means--we have to hire 2 4th grade teachers. But we only get funded for 23 kids. Ouch.)

I don't want high taxes, either. Believe it or not, I'm not a tax and spend liberal. I'm not even a Democrat. I'm just a guy trying to make school happen.

So, why can't we cut bureaucratic testing budgets the same amount that we are cutting teacher jobs? The STAAR test doesn't teach kids. And why would you expect a superintendent not to say, "Hey, fund what we do."

I disagree that we don't produce value for our economy. Yes, taxpayers fund what we do, just like they fund fire stations and highways. What do they get for their investment? High school graduates. You say they can't read? Then how did they pass the English-Language Arts TAKS test? The only students who graduate are either students who pass that test (and, trust me, you have to read to pass it), or students with major disabilities. The only students who earn a degree in Texas but can't read are special education students. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something and willing to lie to sell it.

Man, I appreciate your angle on this, but you are in places characterizing my situation based on some fiction or assumptions. 11k per student? I wish! We'd have newer computers if that were to happen. Maybe you're confusing Perrin, Texas, with a union state or something.

Anonymous said...

I allowed the mandates to happen? How? The Republicans in power said they were for small government. But they instituted the federal and state mandates. I didn't vote for this system. Nobody did. The lawmakers have bought into a certain "broken system" mythos (that you repeat in your post) and have responded with a dizzying array of governmental interventions.

I have no qualm with vouchers. I don't know why you assume I do. Bring 'em on. I run a quality school, and I can compete with any charter or private school you build. I'm not worried about competition.

I don't live anywhere close to a White Flight suburb. I am in a farming community. Population is poor, but I do have wealth in the form of one big gas storage facility. It doesn't help me with funding though, because Target Revenue capped how much I could get per student at $4900, so when that facility came in and brought $100 million in value, the state decreased its share of my schools funding in relation to the new local tax receipts. Net zero increase.

Fort Worth grads can't read a tape measure because they are getting put in extra TAKS classes to prepare for the high stakes test. Could you read a tape measure when you graduated? Did you have tape measure reading class? Isn't that something, really, that you would typically learn on the job? They also probably can't fold a shirt when they graduate, or run a soldering iron? You can't just pick random stuff and pretend that it alone is a measure of an appropriate education. What about the kid who can't read a measuring tape but can build a webpage? Is that kid educated?

Blind criticism of schools is what created the bureaucracy that caused the inefficiency that you blame on fictional "federal programs directors" (which only exist in huge schools, and which are paid for entirely by federal grants).

I'm not sure I get your hangup on social security? Why would people who don't get to collect social security pay into it? How great do you think teacher retirement is?

I suppose we could live in a world where corporations keep every penny they make (from me and you). And we could just not educate kids? I don't get it.

Even with vouchers, someone has to pay taxes for education, don't they? I hate to break it to you, but aside from anarchy, there will be some taxes if you want services. Vouchers will introduce competition, which will probably improve service. But there is a ground level cost to educating kids, isn't there? And it might go up with vouchers, since we schools will be doing everything we can to have the school that appeals to the most customers. I'll really want to upgrade my facilities, computers, teacher pay, if I'm trying to recruit students to increase my funding.

I'm not sure what you want, aside from vouchers and teachers not to have a pension. I suppose you want me to get paid less, but it's strange. The banker in my town takes care of people's money and gets paid more than me. He has a smaller staff, smaller facilities. And I educate your kids.

I guess I see value where you see waste. I'm not sure we'll ever agree, because I believe a public school was good for me when I was a kid, and I believe I am benefiting kids with the work I do. I just don't think of myself as a taker--I think of myself as a giver. Maybe if you shadowed a teacher for a week?

Anonymous said...

One last comment from me: you are wrong about parents not coming to my aid. There are hundreds and hundreds of parents who want their children to have access to a free, quality public education, and they are mad/worried right now. Many are emailing me to tell me they support public schools. According to the 2010 Phi Delta Kappa Gallup poll, 77% of respondents rated their child's school with an "A" or a "B". Most people have a very positive experience with their actual real life public school. Despite the caricature that the uninformed put out there.

That's why I think Tea Partiers are shooting themselves in the foot by drawing a line in the sand over school funding--when regular folks say they want less government, they mean less bureaucracy, not fire my kid's reading teacher.

Nick Rowe said...

a free, quality public education

Obviously failed Economics in college, or didn't take it at all.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Mr. Kuhn,
Thanks for taking the time to respond.
IMAO, however, you do indeed have the workers that I listed in the post. They might not answer to you personally, but they're part of the education system and they get paid, for better or worse. This is a huge part of the problem, as compared to letting the private sector take care of education....Who do all these people answer to? Anybody? Do they work anywhere?

I won't burden you with any of the charts showing # of education employees vs. testing scores since Carter started the Dept of Education. You can Google those as quickly as I can provide the links.

I don't know who approved the software/testing system that you did your original letter about, but he or she works in the education system, and he or she comes with a cost. When private enterprises make decisions like this one, they go under.

The insurance program you listed, by most standards, isn't just a Cadillac, it's a Mercedes. Tell me (and everyone else) about your dental plan. That's a Ferrari.

You wisely avoided the Social Security issue. :)

Regarding the desire for a "Free" quality public education, that's probably true. And I want a "Free" pony. But somebody, somewhere has to pay for it. And take a look at the most telling Parental Support statistic of all... 40% of Chicago public schoolteachers, while rallying to preserve their monopoly on taxpayer funds, rallying against vouchers, and struggling to preserve their union benefits, 40% of them send their own kids to private schools.

http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/publius-forum/2010/12/40-of-chicago-public-school-teachers-send-own-kids-to-private-schools.html

So does Barack Obama.

You probably bust your rear end at your job, and I'm sure that the people in your area appreciate what you do. They probably like most of their teachers. But they want a choice.

You see your district as an isolated, well-run ship. It probably is. But no matter how hard you work, how efficiently you run things, the next Education Secretary, Governor, or consultant can wipe it out with a couple of unfunded mandates. Bummer.

Finally, I really, really respect you for saying "Bring on the vouchers". That's a rare sentiment, and I wish more people in the system shared it.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

One other thing, to the Anonymous who posted at 6:28.

The issue isn't how much you get. It's how much you don't get.

The amount being spent isn't up for debate. It's approaching $11,000 per kid. Where is all that money going?

Anonymous said...

What school district do your kids go to? $11,000? Spending in the district that my children go to is $5k per student and we are underfunded due to property poor values. However, that is the money spent to educate the "whole child." That means paying for art teachers, physical education teachers,the cafeteria workers, librarians and so on. Our district are very good stewards with the money they receive and actually do a quite amazing job educating the 36,000 students in our district. I would rather send my kids to this district any day than a private school where they would not get as many great opportunities to such an array of choices for their education. If there were not so many unfunded mandates thrown at the district from Texas Legislators and allowed more local control, the districts could save more money and effectively educate the students. JMHO

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Dude, you're not getting it. When you add up Federal, State and local spending on education, divided by the # of kids in the system, you get 11k.
When you take a maximum class size of 21 kids, times 11k, you get something like 230K per classroom. And when the classroom goes off to art or band or P.E. or facepainting, that teacher is taken into account.
In answer to your other question....After paying private school tuition AND taxes for years, I manipulated the system to get my kid from East FW public schools (our neighborhood) into Paschal, near TCU.

One other thing....look at one of the worst school districts in the U.S., and how much they're spending.

http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2010/02/dc-public-schools-129-trillion-28170.html