Monday, August 23, 2010

Los Angeles' 578 Million Dollar School.

All for the children, of course.

From the article:

"There's no more of the old, windowless cinderblock schools of the '70s where kids felt, 'Oh, back to jail,'" said Joe Agron, editor-in-chief of American School & University, a school construction journal. "Districts want a showpiece for the community, a really impressive environment for learning."

I wonder what he means by those "districts" that want these things. People living in the area? Elected officials? Teachers? Construction workers?

Of course, not everyone is impressed.

"New buildings are nice, but when they're run by the same people who've given us a 50 percent dropout rate, they're a big waste of taxpayer money," said Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution who sits on the California Board of Education. "Parents aren't fooled."

Parents aren't fooled? Back to the "who makes up this district" question. Maybe the parents really are fooled. Maybe they think an impressive building will yield smarter students. Or maybe they don't really care too much about whether the students' educations will benefit from this, and are more concerned about a showpiece for the community and really impressive environments.

Still, all I can do is shrug at the display. It's like trying to combat obesity by purchasing a ten thousand dollar art deco refrigerator complete with a diamond encrusted crisper. "Look at that thing! You can tell I'm really serious about dieting by how much money I spend making sure my food is kept in a luxurious, modern environment."

Mind you, I'm sure a lot of rationalizations can come in. "Environment and aesthetics are important! They encourage focus and..!" etc, etc. But at the end of the day, it just seems so damn cargo cultist to me. Food and money not falling from the skies? Well, clearly we need to build an even *better* fake landing strip. Let's make sure that guy speaking into immaculately crafted bamboo radio puts his heart into it!

Superstition is alive and well in Los Angeles.

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