Mega-schools are mega-dumb

The Golden State, or the “Left Coast” as California is known to many who marvel at the state’s many foibles, is once again at the top of the list of idiocies.  The most expensive public school ever built in the United States (and probably, the entire world) is set to open in just days in the City of Angels.  The price tag for this monument to coddled school children from kindergarten through 12th grade?  A mere $578 million!  Nearly $600 million to build .  .  .  a school. 

With California facing a state budget deficit of more than $19 billion, and the city of Los Angeles itself weighing in with a not-insubstantial deficit of $222 million, one might have expected that cooler, more fiscally responsible heads would have prevailed, and cut back the cost of this latest mega-school by at leasy a few hundred million dollars.  But no, not in La La Land, where nothing is too good or too costly for the Children of the Sun. 

While their tax-paying parents sweat about how to pay California’s ever-more burdensome taxes, the Little Darlings at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles will be swimming in a huge new pool, enjoying blue-ribbon lunches, walking in their private park, ogling fine art murals, and admiring the LA skyline through large picture windows.  Perhaps staring back at the students from outside the marbled walls of RFK School will be some of the 3,000 teachers laid off by Los Angeles city over the past two years because of budget shortfalls.

California, of course, is not alone in seeking to build ever-more expensive and amenities-rich schools; New York, for example, does the same thing.  Funny thing though – many of the nation’s most costly public schools are being constructed in districts that are among the poorest performers in terms of student academic achievement.  Seems that many of these school districts have concluded it’s more important to make the students comfortable and proud of their surroundings, than it is to equip them to be able to learn and function in the real world.

45 comments Add your comment

nelson

August 27th, 2010
7:44 am

This is verrrry interesting. The most expensive high school ever built in this country will be populated almost entirely by the children of illegal immigrants. In 1994, 74,000 children were born to illegal immigrants, now they are high school age. The families pay no taxes, avail themselves of the best medical care on the west coast, all for free and now education in the finest school in the universe. That is as good as it gets. What was that inscription over the door on Ellis Island, ” give me your poor, your tired, those yearning to be free. When they said free they did not know how good free can be.
That is the way it is, the largest homeless population in the country is in L.A., they do not get it that good, when they go to the Emergency room at the hospital, it is in the front door and out the back, ofcourse, they are citizens of this country.

Eric

August 27th, 2010
8:02 am

Right on–good article once again, Mr. Barr. To think we’ve come this far (or not?) from the 3 R’s taught at the school house on “Little House on the Prairie.” I wish we could also tame our appetite for the latest in technology, which also never seems to get cut in the school budget. But teachers sure can be cut!

Kamchak

August 27th, 2010
8:25 am

you’re just saying that because you are white and you hate black people.

Hot4Teacher

August 27th, 2010
8:45 am

Mega-schools R Mega-dumb.

HDB

August 27th, 2010
8:55 am

A student can be motivated to achieve in the right environment. An old, dilapidated school building with teachers not motivated to teach lend to the problems of learning. Maybe it wasn’t prudent to spend a half-billion on a school….but the building consolidates K-12 in one place! It may be the wave of the future……

sam

August 27th, 2010
9:00 am

I don’t think any illegal aliens ought to be allowed into government funded schools. I don’t see any legal obligation to educate these kids and no moral obligation either. They are illegal, or their parents are illegal. Send them home. I am sick of paying for them at the expense of our own children’s future.

Barck

August 27th, 2010
9:24 am

What Mr. Barr left out of his article is that the school is also equipped with a spa and sauna and presonal trainers for the teachers. The union asked for this and whatever the unions want…the unions get… because they run the country as far as Presbo is concerned. I hope the kids like the fine art we picked out for them.

sean smith

August 27th, 2010
9:29 am

Gosh, for $598 mil you could have bought two F22 Raptors. Why dont we see some outrage from Mr. Barr over the extreme amounts spent on military hardware????

Joe Biden

August 27th, 2010
9:43 am

I don’t see where the outrage is. Our economy is on the right track. We can build these collossal schools and put all the jobless americans to work in construction and then they can afford to pay the tax burden imposed by Obamacare and Pelosi.

Mrs. Norris

August 27th, 2010
9:56 am

Too late, Kyle already mentioned it; but I guess it bears repeating.

Hillbilly Deluxe

August 27th, 2010
10:22 am

Whatever money is spent for education, needs to be spent in the classroom and not Taj Mahal buildings. There are examples of lavish building waste in my own community, although nothing like the one Bob is referring to.

Reality

August 27th, 2010
10:36 am

Barr borrows the term “mega-school” and uses it the wrong way. The term mega-school refers to the student population. Usually, schools with greater than 3000 students are considered mega-schools. There are many of these in GA, and most of those are in Gwinnett – Parkview and Brookwood to name a couple. These are two of the better high schools in the entire State.

Maybe Barr should be specific and say “mega-expensive” schools.

Interested observer

August 27th, 2010
10:38 am

Whatsa matter, you don’t like the California economic stimulus effort? Think of all the jobs created durin’ construction and that will be required for maintenance. God bless (the left coast of) America.

If the folks of California like this kind of gummint, why should we care? Our kids learn just fine in trailers, but mebe those folks want classrooms without wheels.

Haywood Jablome

August 27th, 2010
10:47 am

Right on, Bob! This money would have been better used by making bombs and guns to kill the muslims.

jd

August 27th, 2010
11:12 am

Regardless of what one thinks of Barr, the editorial is on target. How could anyone justify nearly $600,000,000.00 for a K-12 school. Not even the richest PRIVATE schools in the country can afford that. This is a PUBLIC school for the underprivileged. And to answer the snarky, liberal question before it is asked: YES, the underprivileged deserve LESS, not just as much or more than the privileged. That’s why we call them “underprivileged”.

Kretzahl Slagfish

August 27th, 2010
11:19 am

Wow! Bob Barr being critical of a blue state while being completely blind to his own state’s MANY failings–who’d have thunk it? Maybe if blue states didn’t have to subsidize the red welfare states by contributing more tax dollars than they receive from the federal government, they could afford to fund their programs. Yessiree, red state Republicans are the REAL welfare queens in this country. So get the mote out of your own eye, ya friggin’ dink.

Kamchak

August 27th, 2010
11:25 am

Reality,

You are about as sharp as a bowling ball.

Lawrence

August 27th, 2010
11:33 am

Slagfish…

You are a Democrat and that means idiot.

Bob

August 27th, 2010
11:35 am

Sean, if you have been keeping up with the news you would know that the F-22 fighter program was NOT extended. The F-22 fighters are a great deterrent to other former soviet satellite countries from buying their own Migs from Russia. The F-22s make having an air force in countries hostile to America a futile and wasteful endeavor. It is a deterrent for keeping the peace.

The white elephant of a K-12 school in LA will not do any of this. This school will not function any better than a school built at one-tenth the cost. Students need good teachers, good books, basic school supplies, basic school equipment, a well stocked library, working computers, simple but well maintained facilities and a basic cafeteria. What else do they need to learn??? I think this is $500 million down the drain.

How much longer can California keep businesses, especially high tech business start ups, with high taxes and wasteful government spending? This makes Houston, Atlanta, Research Park NC as bargains for high-tech start ups. Each of these places have the top science and engineering schools in the South, much lower taxes, a business friendly environment, good standard of living and a growing venture capital market. What else do you need that California does not have?

DawgDad

August 27th, 2010
12:24 pm

You seem to imply only California taxpayers are footing the bill. I think that is extremely unlikely and probably not true; there almost has to be a healthy amount of Fed money in this project, and, ultimately we will all pay for their greed and graft.

not really illegal

August 27th, 2010
12:31 pm

If you assuming that these are children who were born in 1994 by illegal immigrants in the US then that would make those children legal US citizens. It is also important to understand that it is in our best interest as a nation to educate OUR citizens as our most important good we produce is knowledge. We don’t export, manufacture tangible goods anymore we are a service providing nation and we need to make sure that OUR citizens are capable of working these positions.

Dean Boyd

August 27th, 2010
12:44 pm

Bobby, sometimes you just need to pull up. How much of Cali’s budget comes out of your or any of your lemmings’ pockets?

Jefferson

August 27th, 2010
1:23 pm

Just as long as they keep the community center far away…

Kamchak

August 27th, 2010
1:32 pm

If you are not sensitive enough you are a racist – illegal immigration, gay rights, welfare debacle
If you are too sensitive you are a racist – Manhattan Mosque

Gerald West

August 27th, 2010
1:35 pm

Right! Children should go to community schools within walking distance of their homes.

There are some other names for California: “economic engine of the U. S.”, “the cradle of innovation”, “trendsetter”, etc.

LoFlyer

August 27th, 2010
2:20 pm

Some of the comments on price of military hardware, I suspect that if you could buy an f-22 for 25 million and a Carrier for a couple of hundred million you would still be dead set against military hardware. I do agree the stuff is way too expensive and something should be done to keep the costs down. Unfortunately R&D for expensive electronics and stealth cost big bucks. Do we really need a stealth fighter at 300 million a copy? Maybe not 20 years ago but with Russia returning to its former belligerence under the old socialists, and China with its own ideas of foreign policy and domination of Asia it might not hurt to have some expensive military hardware that scares the bejeezus out of these potential enemies.
On the expensive LA school. I am willing to bet that in 10 years the school will be half trashed or non-functional. The maintenance contracts on the school hardware will probably run something like 30 million a year and are the first thing dropped in a government budget crunch.
I was lucky to graduate from public high school in the mid 70’s before public education went down hill. If the situation was not so horrible nowadays,then I would laugh. Under the old public education system, The attention was given to the 70 or 80 percent of students who were moderately intelligent and showed a desire to learn. If you didn’t want to learn or were mentally retarded, then little time was wasted on students who would never become productive adults. The system was cost-effective and the education taxes were low.
Then the liberals got a hold of the public education system and the parents of the mentally challenged demanded that their children get an education also. This was impossible but a huge amount of money and resources were thrown at the idea that students with defective brains could be educated to K-12 levels.
Then we have the move in emphasis of studies away from the core subjects to the social studies and the arts instead of what is needed by a student when he leaves high school. Reading, writing and mathematics. American history and civics have also either been abbreviated and revised to meet the social ideology of the educators and our students are graduating without understanding their rights and responsibilities of American citizenship and the unique role that American exceptionalism and capitalism has played in making our country the bastion of liberty and democracy in the world today.
Instead our students are being taught they must give up their liberty to obtain security, and they must provide for the wants and needs of the underpriviledged and the minorities at the expense of their own standard of living. They are taught that capitalism is bad and socialism is good, and that we are all equal despite that many of them are exceptionally smarter and have more drive and make better choices in life or that their are an equal number or more of exceptionally dumber citizens with no drive who make poor life choices that must be supported by the rest of the citizens.

LA spending 600 million for a single school is a symptom of the general failure of our educators and leadership. California is going bankrupt and has no clue on how to fix their state. Americans should demand better from their government leaders.

The Cynical White Boy

August 27th, 2010
2:27 pm

Well, at least the boondoggle is named after a Kenneday, and that’s appropriate. Spending other people’s money? Sounds like a Kennedy to me.

It would be even worse if they named it after Reagan.

on the far (right) side

August 27th, 2010
2:40 pm

Ever notice, that when one of the right wing points out the waste, or the poor judgement of the left, that the left will ALWAYS respond in an attack on the person, and not counter with additional facts….
OK, go ahead lefties, jump in there and give some more of those personal jabs, and show your real colors…. November’s a commin’ and a change is in the wind…

Reality Bites

August 27th, 2010
3:05 pm

The school was approved and budgeted for in 2006, in a different economy. It’s not paid for from the state’s education fun, but from a voter-approved bond. So while it’d would have been nice to put that $600M to teachers and technology in the classroom, it wasn’t possible per government policy. We should frankly feel jealous that it was built in CA and not GA, as I know my kid would benefit from that type of environment. And a relaxed teacher is a happy teacher.

DawgDad

August 27th, 2010
3:22 pm

“We should frankly feel jealous that it was built in CA and not GA”

Please, DO NOT vote. Our future depends on you staying away from the polls.

Kretzahl Slagfish

August 27th, 2010
3:25 pm

Lawrence,

The likelihood that I’m a Democrat is about equal to the likelihood that you’re a genius. In other words, not likely. Nah, you sound more like one of those Republican welfare queens whose state needs a handout every year from the federal government. Ironic really, how all y’all Republican welfare queens down here in the land of Robert E. Cheese (Chuck’s brother, btw) go on and on about oppressive taxation while the whole time your shiftless state is being supported by the disproportionately high contributions from the so-called blue states.

But seriously, representative government is dead, my friend. If you really think the Democrats or the Republicans effectively represent the interests of most Americans, then you’re too stupid to be allowed to vote.

Richard

August 27th, 2010
3:29 pm

You missed the big item here. LA is having to charge students $300 for the year to ride the bus. In other words, they built a school and can’t afford to get the students to it. You know how you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink? Kinda the exact opposite.

Kretzahl Slagfish

August 27th, 2010
3:32 pm

LoFlyer,

Amazing! Were you saluting the flag and marching in place while you typed that out? Were you channeling Ayn Rand? Just reading it gave me an overwhelming urge to punch my maid and declare war on something!

Supreme Being

August 27th, 2010
4:09 pm

It is so amusing watching how you let your Government spend your money. They spend foolishly with money they don’t have. Then when they need more, they create more taxes on the earners to give to the takers.

janet

August 27th, 2010
5:13 pm

300.00 per student for transportation to a first rate facility. Sounds like a good deal to me and keeps all the parents off the roads driving their kids to school unlike here in Georgia where each precious child must be brought to school in a separate car and picked up by the same.
And our kids get to go to school in trailers, have no recess, have no music classes and did they just cut PE? So we have fat, undereducated, art deprived students who will become the adults who lead this state into the next decades. Yes, Georgia is a real leader in the country in so many ways.

Supreme Being

August 27th, 2010
5:34 pm

Janet you must be a graduate of a Georgia school and described yourself pretty well I bet.

Jeb

August 27th, 2010
6:50 pm

578 million is about the amount of money Haliburton “misplaced” in Iraq on Bushwar. I missed Bob’s outrage article on that.

LoFlyer

August 27th, 2010
10:54 pm

Slag, feel free to punch your maid, if that provides you with self-esteem and and a warm fuzzy feeling. Just be aware that your maid has constitutional rights that could put you in jail.

As for declaring war. Canada is always an option.

Larry Major

August 28th, 2010
5:37 am

As someone already pointed out, this money came from local taxpayers. There are no federal, state or even Los Angeles city funds involved because the bond issue that LAUSD taxpayers approved affects only their own school taxes.

Just like a SPLOST, when voters approve a bond referendum the proceeds can’t be used for anything other than the approved purpose. It looks odd when a school system is building new schools while they are reducing staff and cutting other services, but it just isn’t legal to use this money for anything other than, in this case, construction. If local taxpayers want to pay for mink lined sinks, it’s their money. If they don’t like ultra-expensive schools, they can take it up with their district’s Bond Oversight Committee. Either way, LAUSD has a long term AA- rating, so S&P doesn’t see impending disaster regardless of what they do.

Also, I don’t know the source of the $300 to ride a bus thing, but LAUSD is a city system where nearly all the schools are within walking distance and transportation isn’t provided. They do provide transportation in some cases, but well over 90 per cent of their students don’t qualify. Whatever this cost relates to, it’s a special case and affects a small number of their students.

Williebee

August 28th, 2010
1:08 pm

This school is a lame idea, pushed by a failed government dominated by a bankrupt political philosophy. Half a billion dollars for a school building is just dumb. We all know it. Heck even the poor schmucks in LA know this is stupid…they just lack the poltical will to stop it.
The question for the rest of us is do we have the poltical will to stop the stupidity?

Kretzahl Slagfish

August 28th, 2010
3:01 pm

LoFlyer,

My maid is one of those underprivileged minorities who’ve been lowering your standard of living. She loves to take advantage of people like you by cleaning toilets for a living. Say, maybe if I give you her address, you could go by her place and drown her retarded son in the bathtub. In fact, I bet if you drown enough retarded kids, we can redirect those education tax dollars to the F-22 program. Like you, I believe that our national defense depends on our willingness to spend exorbitant amounts of money on jets that don’t work. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go write an op-ed on why I think we need to bring back the Sgt. York DIVAD.

Barring Logic

August 28th, 2010
10:02 pm

This school was likely approved during the “good” times. Remember those? When prices of real estate could be counted on to go up and up? When remodeling a room required a second mortgage?

Once they approved the plans and the voters approved it, it was built. The timing is bad that it was finished during the “bad” times.

I always chuckle at those of you that judge without all of the facts. Barr has a field day by reporting partial truths without ‘the rest of the information.’

Hindsight

August 29th, 2010
11:13 am

Mega Schools are so short bus, you know?

Mike

August 29th, 2010
4:15 pm

I just wanted to mention to anyone reading this that Georgia’s teachers are not unionized. They never have been, and currently the law forbids it. We Georgia teachers are also the highest paid in the Southeast, thanks to many governors of both parties who place a priority on hiring good teachers. Georgia’s schools aren’t perfect, but they are improving. Just don’t listen to people like Neil Boortz who constantly critisize Georgia’s schools and blame it on unions. I’ve tried to contact him to let him know that there are no teacher unions in Georgia, but I get no response. He probably doesn’t want the truth out.

Mike

August 29th, 2010
4:18 pm

By the way, Bob Barr: The title of your article is immature. I don’t know if you wrote it or the editor did, but calling mega-schools “mega-dumb” makes you sound like a child. Try to have a little more maturity next time you write.