Tom decided to do a little online research and found some interesting information. What
he found was pretty disgusting and eye-opening.
For starters, it seems that the tests for determining illiteracy are not exactly rocket
science. People are deemed illiterate if they have trouble doing such things as
understanding bus schedules, maps and job applications.
The ultra-high rate of illiteracy in the District of Columbia is 36 percent, nearly
twice the nation's 21 percent.
Why is this number so high in a place that has spent inordinate amounts of money on
education and social programs?
There are two clues mentioned in the study:
- The same report mentioned that adults age 65 and older had the lowest
literacy score of any group in the DC study.
- The District of Columbia Chamber of Commerce, which contributed to the
report, said the city lost up to $107 million in taxes annually between 2000
and 2005 because of a lack of qualified job applicants.
Let’s talk about the first clue. Even for an old rancher, I’ve got enough horse-sense to
follow this trail. Apparently we have lost something, in terms of education, for the
Seasoned Senior™ generation to score much higher that younger people. Conversely,
the recent generation or two of students don’t seem to be getting what they need to be
productive citizens in society, this despite the fact that DC has one of the highest per-
pupil costs in the nation, a staggering average of $12,221 spent for each student!
This compares with an overall national average of both public and private schools per
student of $5,350.
Don’t even get me started on the fact that even with the gargantuan amounts of money
poured into the public school system in our nation’s capital, according to the U. S. Army
Corps of Engineers, nearly three-fourths of the DCPS’s facilities are in poor physical
condition (or to use the actual words from another DCPS report, “an all-time low”).
Quoting from that report: "Roofs were leaking, windows needed to be replaced, boilers
were failing, plumbing, wiring and heating systems were old and unreliable. Many of the
floors, walls, and ceilings were in poor condition, and people often avoided the use of the
bathrooms altogether. There were very few schools in the District of Columbia with
working science laboratories."
I challenge you to do a Google search and take a tour of the DC schools. Check out this,
especially the pages toward the end of the report. No child should have to endure this
kind of disrepair. Somebody has dropped the ball, and the young people of the nation;s
capital are paying for this costly neglect.
Excuse me for asking, but where is this money going? And yes, since federal taxes help
pay for DC schools, I do have a right to ask.
Second clue: Call me simple-minded, but the lack of qualified job applicants must relate
either to a lack of motivation to get a job, or else it must point toward a lack of motivation
to have a job that pays enough to work for the District of Columbia. A quick search of city
jobs points to a Grade 1 general career non-union employee starting out at over $20,000,
with a Grade 18 maxing out at over $164,000. A Grade 1 general career union employee
in the clerical field, for example, starts out at Grade 1 at over $22,000, with a Grade 9 in
the same field at over $52,000. These are among the lowest-level job salaries available in
the city. It is much higher for people in administrative, technical or professional fields.
Why wouldn’t the people of Washington, DC, teeming
with over a half-million people (over 5 million people in
the greater Washington Metropolitan Area, and the
Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area surpasses
8 million), be motivated to go after these well-paying,
highly-secure jobs that remain unfilled?
Obviously, according to the illiteracy numbers, at least
a third of the people are unqualified. Since literacy
requires motivation to learn at least basic skills, why
are so many people unmotivated?
Again, call me simple-minded, but the District of
Columbia has historically earned quite a reputation
for mismanagement and waste, particularly during the
mayoralty of Marion Barry, who was re-elected (and
now serves as on the City Council for Ward 8) despite serving jail time for smoking crack
cocaine (among other charges of failing to pay federal and local taxes, and continuing to
receive drug counseling after testing positive for cocaine and marijuana in October 2005).
Would it surprise you, then, that the city reportedly has some of the highest-cost,
lowest-quality services in the nation. Problems with urban renewal, public health, and
public education remain huge challenges, despite rising expenditures.
Washington, D.C. is often called the "murder capital" of the United States, often rivaling
New Orleans in the high number of homicides. D.C.'s crime rate surpasses the rates of
Los Angeles and New York.
Washington is the site of numerous national landmarks, monuments, and museums, and
is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. The great in-migration of
professionals from all over the world who come to the area to live and work should make
this bustling city one of the most prosperous and thriving areas of the country.
The problem, from my front porch view, is that Washington, D.C., like New
Orleans, has been a prototype and playground for social-program liberals and
Democrats since the 1960s or earlier. They have used these two cities as templates
for the Great Society and other programs that they want our entire country to follow.
But what the District of Columbia has become, like New Orleans, is a series of social
(socialist?) experiments that continue to run amuck.
I feel badly for the kids who must pay the price for this crippling Great Society in
Face it, the schools of DC are living, breathing examples that throwing zillions of dollars
and burgeoning social programs at a geographic area, however well-intended, don’t bring
prosperity or literacy. Far from it!
Usually, if the truth is told, these programs have the opposite effect. Inevitably, socialist
bureaucracies, despite all the platitudes, kill self-responsibility, creativity and productivity.
And what you get is several generations, except Seasoned Seniors™ (for some strange
reason, who must have learned a lot more before all the social programs were initiated),
who are functionally illiterate, plus those same generations who cannot (or will not) go to
the trouble to get jobs because the social welfare programs apparently seem more
What you get, dear liberal social engineers, is Washington, DC.
Now, could you just stop trying to spread the overwhelmingly expensive and
socially disastrous experiment to the rest of our country.
Speaking for myself and my coffee-drinking buddies Tom and Rafe, keep it to your
THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
...AN EXPERIMENT GONE AWRY
At today’s coffee session (sort of a old guy's think tank), my long-time buddies and
great Americans Rafe and Tom were as incredulous as I was to read about the long-
term results of one of the most amazing (and expensive) experiments...results that
should make everyone sit up and take notice.
Let me put it this way: Like it or not, you do have a dog in this particular fight, even
though it is happening in the District of Columbia.
|The official coffee mug for
bull-sessions with Sterling,
Tom and Rafe.
Order yours today!
Rafe brought a newspaper clipping about a study
by the State Education Agency, an office created
by the U.S. Department of Education to distribute
federal funds for literacy services, the four-year,
$4 million adult literacy initiative found that over
one-third of the people living in the nation’s
capital are functionally illiterate.
This compares with one-fifth of all Americans who
are functionally illiterate.