In addition to the federal cash that flows into public schools around the country as a matter of course, Congress appropriated an extra $190 million into the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) between 2004 and 2009. Yet no one in the D.C. school system seems to be able to provide a credible accounting of what happened to all that money.
A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that records of how federal money was spent are incomplete or nonexistent in the years leading up to 2009. According to the report, DCPS received $37.4 million for "literacy improvement" between 2004 and 2007 but "was unable to provide information to describe the program's goals, objectives or outcomes." A congressional grant of $85 million to expand public charter schools between 2004 and 2009 went similarly unmonitored. Further complicating the investigation, "the contracting office could not locate 3 of the 17 files we requested for our review." D.C. schools have had six superintendents in the last 10 years, and a new one recently took the helm after the departure of the controversial reformer Michelle Rhee.
Cornelia Ashby of the GAO, speaking to the Washington Examiner, summed up the situation nicely. "They have long-standing problems," she said.