- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 10, 2003

As our readers and TV viewers learned yesterday, D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) plans to hand out an estimated 770 pink slips by year’s end — a startling announcement considering the holidays are upon us. The most jarring news was this: An audit of high schools uncovered DCPS’ dirtiest little secret — grade inflation, incomplete records, and inaccurate and unreliable student records. Other serious problems were reported, but none strikes at the integrity of DCPS like the aforementioned findings.

“What’s crystal clear is that high schools haven’t been doing their jobs in terms of student records at all,” School Board President Peggy Cooper Cafritz said. “It’s rampant throughout the system.”

As for the layoffs, it is encouraging to know that school officials hope not to hurt grade schools, where small class sizes are most important. The high schools, however, have been problematic for years, since low expectations from faculty and bureaucratic distractions from downtown have turned many schoolhouses into warehouses. Trimming the deadweight is critical to the academic well-being of students and the fiscal health of the DCPS budget.

Mrs. Cafritz warned it would come to this. In February 2001, she said that about “50 percent” of high school teachers were incompetent. In May 2002, some teachers at Wilson High School blew the whistle on records mismanagement and grade inflation, prompting three separate probes. Now the truth is available in black and white for all to see.

What’s truly appalling is that the last, and most damaging, of those investigations was completed in September but its results were not released until Wednesday. School officials say they are going to clean up the mess. We doubt that will happen, though, since they are the ones cooking the books and keeping everything hush-hush.

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