Education

Well, at Least They Destroyed Thousands of Affordable Houses While Building All Those Expensive Schools!

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Bo Belinsky is throwing screwballs in his grave

There is a Drudge-aballoo currently afoot about Los Angeles' shiny new $578 million high school–the most expensive in our nation's history, at least in nominal terms–on the site where Robert Kennedy was assassinated (and, in better times, Mamie Van Doren was crowned Miss L.A. Press Club). Though critics are portraying it as a budget-crisis-hypocrisy story, that's not entirely accurate, since this and more than $20 billion (yes, with a "b") worth of other L.A. Unified School District projects were earmarked through ballot-box bond measures.

Would you believe that another Miss L.A. Press Club was none other than Marilyn Monroe? It's awesome because it's true!

But I'd like to suggest that the story here is even worse than the fact that "construction costs at LA Unified are the second-highest in the nation," even while the system continues to produce craptacular education results. All of these things are terrible, perhaps even criminal, but here's something as infuriating as it is almost totally undercovered in the media:

Yeah, this neighborhood no longer exists

The LAUSD, during this the biggest public works project west of The Big Dig, has bulldozed literally thousands of homes and businesses that stood in its way. They have been razing entire neighborhoods in order to educate them, even as enrollment numbers in the public school system have been falling through the floor.

For those willing to wade into some dodgy html code, I have written about this extensively in the past.

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  1. It for us!

  2. Those homes were clearly blighted.

  3. Could this be a teachable moment?

    1. Maybe, if the LAUSD was in the teaching business.

      1. If you build it they will come?

  4. Construction costs at LA Unified are the second-highest in the nation ? something the district blames on skyrocketing material and land prices, rigorous seismic codes and unionized labor.

    That last one would be amusing if people weren’t getting reamed over all this.

  5. I bet that school has a really nice football stadium.

      1. No football, too competitive and certainly not PC…probably use it for ultimate frisbee and no score soccer.

        1. Every kid gets a trophy! Self-esteem rules!

  6. If any of those displaced homeowners were homeschooling their kids, the school district should be hit for antitrust violations.

    1. But the Gov’t is ALLOWED to monopolize. It’s in the Bill or Rights or something….

  7. Oooh, I like dodgy html…

    < a style=…

  8. “But I’d like to suggest that the story here is even worse than the fact that “construction costs at LA Unified are the second-highest in the nation,” even while the system continues to produce craptacular education results.”

    I’m confused. How do the district’s education results bear on the decision to (arguably) overspend on a new school?

    The above quote seems to suggest that, while spending that much on the school would be unwise even if the education results were stellar, it is especially unwise given the poor results.

    It’s either unwise or its not. I’m not sure how the education results are relevant.

    1. product of the LAUSD no doubt…

    2. Because they could have spent the money on improving curriculum, or instruction, or textbooks that let the kids know how the Korean War turned out instead of building the Fortress of Ignorance.

      1. Okay. But I’m guessing Welch would consider additional spending on curriculum, instruction or textbooks to also be wasteful and ineffective.

      2. textbooks that let the kids know how the Korean War turned out

        Has that war really “turned out” yet?

        1. Your philosophical meta-truths have no place in a post about education!

    3. Personally I am of the foaming-at-the-mouth radical teabagger anarchist school of “if you don’t do what you say you do, you shouldn’t get paid”. So I think the fact that LAUSD gets 1 dollar of funding is a slap in the face to any California taxpayer, considering the various levels of miseducation in that school district.

      1. Do they not do what they say they do? Sure you can point to low test scores, but consider the material they have to work with. Any valid measurement of educational performance must account for the underlying demographics of the population being educated.

        I’m guessing you’re someone who buys the concept inherent in the old phrase, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” It may be the case that LA educators are faced with a disproportionate number of students who “don’t want to drink”.

        1. As a product of 50’s/60’s public schools, I believe I got a decent basic education. With my now grown daughters, not so much from public schools. My younger daughter was home schooled during high school as the public hish school was so pathetic. My older daughter put in a lot of “extra” work just to get the education promised to her.

          Years ago, most students had a chance at a decent education in public schools. Almost all children attended public schools. But over the years, as the Federal Government became more involved in local schools, the quality of education dropped. As the Fed gets more involved, the results get worse. Rather like most other things the Fed gets involved in.

          Schools are not faced with more student who “don’t want to drink”, they are faced with a system that has lost track of it’s primary goal, to provide all children with a basic education.

          We can argue all we want about whether schools should be publicly funded or privately funded, but right now we are dealing with the public system, and it is completely broken. If standardized test scores go up ( a rare occurrence) the teachers unions proclaim the skill of public school teachers. If the scores go down it is due to factors outside the teachers control.

          If we are going to maintain a publicly financed school system, the first thing to do is get the Fed out of it and the second thing to do is focus on core skills that all people need. The basics like math and language skills with broad history and geography component.

          Individualized skills and training can then be provided based on the interests and aptitude of the various students.

          1. My background: I attended “gifted and talented” programs for middle and high school in the late-80s to early-90s. These were structured as “schools within a school” on majority-minority campuses. The entire program was started as an integration measure to comply with a federal injunction against my district.

            There were some ways my education could have been better, but overall I think it stacks up pretty well against what my peers in area private schools received and public school kids in neighboring well-to-do districts.

            Now, occasionally the gifted kids took classes with the regular school kids. This was for stuff like health and (oddly) government. There were some exceptions, but by and large the atmosphere in these classes was not conducive to learning, fueled mainly by the fact that most of the kids had zero interest in doing so. Now sure, the teachers should have maintained order and gone about the businesses of teaching. On the other hand, when kids can’t be bothered to pay attention in class, do homework, study for tests, etc., I question the extent to which “education” can happen even when you have a competent and dedicated teacher.

            To share another anecdote: the last time I was between jobs I decided to substitute teach for a couple of days. In college I had considered pursuing teaching, but ended up doing something more lucrative. The school I subbed at was one of the “better” ones in the district where I now live. Suffice it to say the environment was…disappointing. Even worse, the whole reason the teacher needed a sub is that her principal needed her to proctor a practice exam the school was holding for my state’s standardized achievement test. That’s right: the school was devoting an entire week’s time to test-practice. Thank you NCLB.

      2. btw, here are 2009 API numbers for California’s largest districts, broken out by ethnicity and “socially disadvantaged”.

        https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=0AqDvDY2BvxUTdEZsNktnQkR3elFfX25PTW1IRHZCMWc&hl=en&output=html

        Looking at these, LAUSD is towards the bottom but isn’t the worst. One could argue that Fresno, San Bernardino and Oakland all perform worse.

        1. so they suck, but they don’t suck as bad as these other holes…quite a recommendation

          1. Relative to other large CA school districts LA is approximately “average” or “slightly below average”. Its results are not “terrible” using other large CA districts as the point of reference.

            1. sucky is, as sucky does I always say.

  9. The fact that it was financed by bond issues voted on by the citizens of that state does not make it any better. Those bonds are backed by the state’s rating, which is in the crapper. So, it is hypocrisy.

  10. (and, in better times, Mamie Van Doren was crowned Miss L.A. Press Club)

    Post needs more Mamie Van Doren

    1. We all need more Mamie Van Doren.

      1. OW, My eye! Friggin pointy-boobs.

      2. exactly what I’m talking about. how could your day not have been improved by following that link?

  11. They also bulldozed the bowling alley where they filmed The Big Labowski. The place was apparently an LA landmark and still quite profitable. The bastards.

    1. This aggression will not stand.

      And neither will anything in the way of eminent domain.

    2. LAUSD are a bunch of nihilists.

      1. Ve vant ze bowling alley, Lebowski.

      2. Correction, LAUSD are a bunch of analists.

    3. That alley really tied the whole neighborhood together.

    4. The LA School District has stepped over the line.

    5. Also, John, I believe the preferred terminology is fatherless-Americans.

      1. Even bastards have fathers. Unless there are advances in parthenogenesis I’ve not been keeping up on.

        1. Sorry, Male-parent-absent-Americans.

          1. I was fine to stick with “bastards.”

            1. Yes, but you’re hateful and insensitive.

              1. I’ll have you know that I’m married to a bastard, you clod!

                1. thought it was, “married to a clod you bastard”

            2. Okay, so riffing off the “Chinamen/Asian-American” joke fell flat. I’m turning in my decoder ring in shame.

    6. Here is the link to prove the above

      The bowling alley scenes were filmed at the former Holly Star Lanes near Santa Monica and the 101 Freeway exit ramp. The bowling alley has since been torn down and a new elementary school stands in its place.

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118715/trivia

    7. “This is what happens when you fuck a school system in the ass!”

    8. But don’t they drink, smoke, and eat high trans fat food in there? It had to go.

      1. I’m sure smoking in the building was prohibited at least a few years before it was demolished. Gotta add the insult to injury.

    9. MOTHER FUCKERS!

  12. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha sucks to be CA

  13. Bulldozing houses will certainly keep the supply down, so prices should be higher as a result. Pretty soon that will be the only pretense needed, although I’m sure “green space” will be the pretense used.

  14. since this and more than $20 billion (yes, with a “b”) worth of other L.A. Unified School District projects were earmarked through ballot-box bond measures.
    So with a student population of 700,000, there is ~$57,000 dollars per student in bond measures. That’s a little out there. I’m also betting those numbers don’t get included when the NEA calculates the $/student that a district spend.

    1. Since many of the voters who approved the bond measure were themselves products of the LAUSD, you shouldn’t expect them to be able to understand any math.

  15. I would be interested in seeing the relative relationship between classrooms and administrative offices in that building.

    1. No one is allowed in the teacher’s lounge but teachers. Not even smarty-pants journalists.

      1. Back before I went to law school, I substituted in between jobs once (it was a decent paying part-time job for me at the time). Naturally, the gig was hellish, as they like the put the tall guys in the scary classes, but the one thing I did get to do was go to the teachers’ lounge. Disturbing.

        1. I was the officially designated torturer of subs. Even as a child I had a knack of weaving semi-plausible lies and delivering them with a straight face.

          1. You male parent absent American.

            /also subbed for a year, and wasn’t very good at it. The lounge is…strange. Some of the teachers think that they are a breed apart, a “band of brothers” kind of thing.

            1. band of douche bags is more like it…

      2. Good way around this one: get a sub certificate and spend any non-classroom time in the lounge. When I was in-between jobs after moving to a new town, I subbed in the local district. You would not believe the stuff you hear while quietly eating your lunch or pretending to read a book while the teachers yuck it up about kids they like, kids they hate, kids they think are f’ing losers, etc. I’ve heard a lot that made me not want to work in that district. It also taught me to be cautious about teachers’ lounges; I rarely frequent them.

        1. “…while the teachers yuck it up about kids they like, kids they hate, kids they think are f’ing losers, etc.”

          It’s almost as if those sacks of crap never left high school in the first place. Amazing.

  16. $578 million? Where is it, on the Moon?

    1. No. The LAUSD only owns the parcel of land on the moon where you planned on building the headquarters for your benign monarchy.

    2. If it were, it would make bussing to school quite an adventure.

      1. Blue Bird, Blue Origin–a merger in the making?

  17. Where is it, on the Moon?

    The elevator ran a little over budget.

    1. If we’d spent all of the wasted money on a space elevator, we’d probably have given science and technology education a bigger boost than spending all of the money directly on “education.”

  18. Sure you can point to low test scores, but consider the material they have to work with.

    Careful some people might think you’re…

    insensitive.

  19. Property rights had to be taken away in this instance, because it was far more important to have a school built than to let people live on their own property.

    1. Hate speech!

  20. I’m pissed that they tore down the Ambassador. I’m pissed that LAUSD went to the mat to prevent anyone from acquiring the Ambassador and restoring it. Course I would have shot Trump had he tore it down and built the world’s tallest building (property rights only extend so far, Baby).

  21. Pretty sure the House Blond and I drove past the new HS a couple of weeks ago. I asked her how she’d like to go to a school like that and she replied: No Thanks.

    We couldn’t tell that it was a school at first. Thought it might be a new jail (I know, how can you tell the diff between a HS and a prison except there aren’t any machine gun towers at a HS).

    It isn’t pretty from the outside. Walls and iron fence right up to the sidewalk on Wilshire.

    1. you obviously missed the camoflauged gum emplacemewnts at the HS…also minefields at the grammer school…and razor wire at the junior high.

      1. gun, not gum…thought I was in a woody allen movie for a second.

  22. Gee I wonder why cali’s broke ?

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