- The Washington Times - Monday, November 7, 2011

Washington’s public schools have their problems, but the lack of iPads and iPhones isn’t anywhere near the top of the list. That didn’t stop agitators from setting up a candlelight vigil this weekend at Turner at Green Elementary School in Southeast. They were there to demand additional federal stimulus money be poured into the educational system.

According to the group OurDC, grade schools in the nation’s capital are suffering from a lack of high-tech gizmos. “My school needs the other apples,” the gathered students were told to chant. OurDC orchestrated the stunt to push for passage of President Obama’s American Jobs Act, which includes an $85 million handout that would allow schools to purchase the trendy electronic products from Cupertino.

Education Week’s latest annual performance ranking gave D.C. public schools a “D+,” but that had nothing to do with a lack of cash. The amount of money the District spends per pupil is at the top of the charts - especially the amount devoted to school administrators. Big Labor sees the school system as a cash cow for its membership. Little wonder that the address for OurDC, 1800 Massachusetts Ave N.W., happens to also be the headquarters of the Service Employees International Union.

These aren’t concerned parents looking to improve their children’s future. Rather, these are highly partisan goons who have gone out of their way to harass Republican members of Congress at their homes and churches, going so far as to show up wearing clown suits at Rep. Frank Wolf’s Herndon office because the Virginia Republican voted against a big-spending project.

Former D.C. schools chief Michelle Rhee showed that writing a fat check to the existing bureaucracy isn’t the key to success. She boosted test scores by shoving underperforming teachers and principals out the door. The unions and entrenched bureaucracy didn’t take kindly to her upsetting their cushy system and she was forced to resign after the election of Mayor Vincent C. Gray.

Having accountable teachers devoted to instructing children on the fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic is what matters. The District’s pupils would be better served by unplugging all the gizmos that are little more than a distraction from the real academic subjects.