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Los Angeles Unveils $578 Million Public School

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the passing-out-hundreds-in-the-lunch-line dept.

Education 367

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from an Associated Press report on next month's opening of the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles: "With an eye-popping price tag of $578 million, it will mark the inauguration of the nation's most expensive public school ever. The K-12 complex to house 4,200 students has raised eyebrows across the country as the creme de la creme of 'Taj Mahal' schools, $100 million-plus campuses boasting both architectural panache and deluxe amenities. ... At RFK, the features include fine art murals and a marble memorial depicting the complex's namesake, a manicured public park, and a state-of-the-art swimming pool. '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.' ... Critics note that nearly 3,000 teachers have been laid off over the past two years, the academic year and programs have been slashed, the district faces a $640 million shortfall and some schools persistently rank among the nation's lowest performing."

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Does It Have (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33348006)

a mosque [nytimes.com] ?

Thanks in advance.

Yours In Astrakhan,
K. Trout

Re:Does It Have (5, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348082)

No, but some graffiti or an earthquake will turn their precious fine art murals and marble memorial into nostalgia discussed in the teachers' lounge.

Re:Does It Have (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348582)

...or an earthquake will turn their precious fine art murals and marble memorial into nostalgia....

You're buying a little too heavily into a Los Angeles stereotype, there. Unless you believe we don't have any Art museums here. ;)

Re:Does It Have (1, Troll)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348110)

Mosque you bring that up again? I'm getting jolly sick of this, sunni.

News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (-1, Troll)

crunchy_one (1047426) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348010)

I think not. Why is this on slashdot?

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (2, Insightful)

pandaman9000 (520981) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348028)

Do nerds only go to private schools?

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (-1, Troll)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348310)

"Do nerds only go to private schools?"

Only those whose parents care about them.

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (1, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348440)

Parents who care about their children help them overcome any nerdish tendencies.

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (2, Insightful)

ma1wrbu5tr (1066262) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348496)

Parents who care about their children help them overcome any nerdish tendencies.

was that from Mein Kampf?

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (3, Funny)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348076)

Cause the government wants it there. There is a code buried in the summary. All you need is the algorithm.

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (1, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348106)

My algorithm is broken, it always returns 42.

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348234)

Actually your algorithm is the correct one and everyone else's is wrong.

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33348420)

So just take 15 seconds to teach the kids to say '42' and save 572 gigabucks on the school?

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348470)

Silence. You know not of which you speak.

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348130)

Nerds. Schools.

Schools. Nerds.

I'm pretty sure there's a connection there. As for the expense, that's what happens when you have a monopoly on money - you don't need to cut costs. You are free to spend as much as you want, because there's no competitor to undercut you with lower cost goods. Color me unsurprised.

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348176)

I also don't understand the comment about 70s schools without windows. I went to schools that were built in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and they all had at least one window per room. I know because I used to stare out of it rather than listen to the boring teacher. (Maybe that's an argument for why windows are bad.)

Plus isn't the purpose of school to adjust kids to their future lives as adults? I certainly don't have any windows on my cubicle.

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348368)

Yeah, let's make it so kids know that school is just as much of a prison as their future job! That'll get them motivated!

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (2, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348596)

If they knew exactly what they faced, they'd probably revolt and form a new society.

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348648)

Is it better that schools do to kids, what they did to me? Delude them into thinking the real engineering world is fun, with lots of girls in bikinis laying on the grass, studying textbooks or doing homework in the sun, and a new project to build every 4 months?

No. Better to have schools reflect reality. No girls (at least not where I work). No sun. No windows. And the same damn project for ten years (with just minor upgrades).

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (1)

Nysul (1816168) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348424)

Most public schools I went to long overgrew their original buildings and had a significant amount of bungalows, which tended to lack windows and sufficient air conditioning (and this was at a California Distinguished School).

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348458)

You have to remember that it's distinguished ... from a decent school.

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348602)

Really? My local school simply added new wings to the original school. First in 1987 (when I was there) and again in 2005. We never had to deal with those ugly trailers

I can think of better uses for $500 million (2, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348454)

dollars in the education budget, like improving science? They could have probably added enough computers to the LA school system to guarantee access to all students. The number of dollars here is just mind boggling. When a school system like LA is dropping teachers right and left over budget problems where is the criminal investigation to put the people who signed off on this?

If they had spent this money on something other than a school you can damn well bet people would be bitching "think of the children".

This is a monument to the school board. It should be the head stone.

Re:I can think of better uses for $500 million (5, Informative)

_Sharp'r_ (649297) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348558)

I was the Board Chair and was directly involved two years ago in building a very nice public school facility, custom designed, for 650 students. It cost $7.5 million to build. Factor in different locational-related costs and that'd be $9 million in LA. $13,846/student.

You'd have better efficiencies of scale to take advantage of in building a 4200 student school, but we'll pretend it should only cost about the same per student. You could say the LA school is going to be even way nicer and cost twice as much and I might buy that argument. You could say they have a bigger bureaucracy to deal with and that's going to double the cost per student again, making it 4x as big and while that's quite a monument to bureaucratic inefficiency, it's certainly believable.

For this school to cost literally 10x as much per student ($137,619/student) as the school we built... there's a lot of graft and people and/or organizations being bought off at that price. There's no other rational explanation for this level of cost.

I mean really, for $124K EXTRA per student they should at least have dorm rooms with bathrooms, etc... on site for all the students and staff....

Re:I can think of better uses for $500 million (2, Insightful)

serbanp (139486) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348598)

Although I share your outrage, the idea that buying more computers will improve the quality of schooling is patently stupid. Think about it.

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348460)

You 7 digit IDs are so overwhelmingly alarmist about the quality of stories here but looking over the complainers I hardly see any of you submitting any. So put up or shut up sonny.

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348636)

I think not. Why is this on slashdot?

Because Slashdot is ad-supported.

Here's another fun fact: By asking questions like "why is this here?", you're generating more content for them to drive ad-views on.

Re:News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33348680)

It is on slashdot because Soulskill posted it. You are not Soulskill. I hope that helps you.

Hey big spender! (4, Insightful)

Bovius (1243040) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348030)

I know that California's budget concerns go far beyond just the building of this school, but this is still the kind of irresponsible spending that got them into the mess they're currently in. If I were in charge of this project, I wouldn't want anyone to know about it right now.

Re:Hey big spender! (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348102)

Yeah I loved this part

The pricey schools have come during a sensitive period for the nation's second-largest school system: Nearly 3,000 teachers have been laid off over the past two years, the academic year and programs have been slashed. The district also faces a $640 million shortfall and some schools persistently rank among the nation's lowest performing.

That just about says it all. California is fucked up.

Re:Hey big spender! (0, Troll)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348158)

California simply understands the "fact" that government money is both free and endless. What's the worst that could happen, a few people don't get voted in for spending too much money? Meh, they'll just go on to bigger and better things.

Re:Hey big spender! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33348588)

California simply understands the "fact" that government money is both free and endless. What's the worst that could happen, a few people don't get voted in for spending too much money? Meh, they'll just go on to bigger and better things.

I disagree. Have you heard of the City of Bell? People see the end of the government money train and, just like with the helium story running on /. today, they are questioning if it had to end this way.

Things are going to get worse in this state with regards to public backlash on expenditures.

Remember, Cali citizens are already dealing with issues on-par with the gray water issues in Colorado - including the closure of several manure fed power generation stations (that allowed several farmers to get completely off grid with surplus to resell), bio-fuel initiatives (you can make it, but putting it into a storage container is no longer permissible), and electric farm vehicle programs (no reason given/odd because participants were signing on to continue the program past the evaluation period, and the program supposedly met its efficiency goals).

These things happen for the same types of back room reasons that lead to the prohibition on collecting rain water on your own land in Colorado.

The anger is building, and every ridiculous sounding expenditure is going to make the situation worse. About the only saving grace right now is that Arizona has stepped forward as the enemy of the Latino population, and L.A. is saying the right things with their boycott posturing (not to mention Arpaio coming across like that bounty hunter in the movie O'Brother...).

Take that away and things would already be much much worse with regards to civil order. But don't worry, we'll get there. No new leadership is emerging from the white populace (just new faces). Everyone is still sitting tight with the existing power bases and the legal Latinos are postured to recreate their So.C successes further north, not to mention the Asian influence.

There is a new theory of manifest destiny in So.C. The destiny is oblivion for the dominant culture.

Re:Hey big spender! (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348478)

I wonder how much of the school is "graft". One thing that defines "luxury" items is a large profit for the seller and it has the advantage of looking honest on paper even if you buy it from cousin Jim.
I had a decent education in second hand huts shipped in from a mining camp because there were enough teachers. These kids might get to run about in a palace but are likely to get an inferior education due to not enough teachers.

Re:Hey big spender! (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348240)

It's HOLLYWOOD BABY! If it looks good, it HAS to be good. Right?

Re:Hey big spender! (5, Insightful)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348276)

Just another example of a society that cannot seperate form from function.

It's like saying, "I do not know how to make a decent school, so I will make a really impressive building, which will suffice as a school"

It makes want to retch. My parents were teachers (retired) and they stay in touch with many teachers who came from their students (from my generation) who they had inspired to teach themselves.

It is reprehensible for a school board (ANY school board) to spend so much damned money on a building when the REAL key to eduction (teachers, DUH!) are underpaid, undersupplied (way too many have to buy materials out of their own pockets) and set in front of huge classes (most of my daughter's classes have 40 students in them this year) only to be judged by standardized tests.

What happened to inspiring students? What happened to drawing their experiences out of them so that they can relate to the lessons and apply them to their lifes? What happened to all the desire to reach a kid and help them realize how they fit into society instead of falling out? Sure it makes a great movie (when the teachers have proven it to work), but the school boards won't fund better teacher salaries!

Oh yeah, a big expensive building is going to fix it.

TOTAL BS!

Scale of LAUSD schools (4, Informative)

Mr 44 (180750) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348396)

Most people don't know that the LAUSD has been building schools at a completely insane pace. For the 15 years from 1997-2012, there has been an average of one new school opened every month! Sure, schools were neglected in the past, but there are tons of brand-new public schools in LA now.

Re:Hey big spender! (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348476)

There are more teachers than teaching jobs, this clearly indicates they are not underpaid.

Re:Hey big spender! (2, Insightful)

Cappadonna (737133) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348578)

Living in LA, this is not surprising, but rather pathetic. In Bell, CA for those not in the Golden State, has been in an uproar because city officials were pulling more money than the President or members of Senate. So, we lay off teachers -- but we build a giant planned city and call it a school. Some city contractor is getting major baller cake to build this monstrosity. No one makes any real bank increasing teachers' salaries or more books.

Re:Hey big spender! (4, Informative)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348334)

They needed a new school, and it had to deal with a number of special issues. For example,

  • global raw material shortages caused costs to skyrocket to an average of $600 per square foot in 2006 and 2007 -- triple the price from 2002
  • Methane mitigation cost $33 million
  • $15 million preserving historic features

It is not like this an investment property that they could keep putting off. So the costs of the materials, who knew how high it was going to go? It is not like they could have predicted it was going to go way back down. Also this is Los Angeles,

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

It is not like they could build it anywhere they want. At the very least, it was an investment in our youth which is better than the proposed "Bridge to Nowhere" (price tag of $398 million).

Re:Hey big spender! (2, Insightful)

Cereal Box (4286) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348480)

Well, that's a good explanation and all, but there's the little problem that this isn't some basic, utilitarian school that cost a lot of money simply because of raw material costs. From the same article you quoted:

At RFK, the features include fine art murals and a marble memorial depicting the complex's namesake, a manicured public park, a state-of-the-art swimming pool and preservation of pieces of the original hotel.

Oh, and in reference to another LA school that cost "only" $377 million:

Over 20 years, the project grew to encompass a dance studio with cushioned maple floors, a modern kitchen with a restaurant-quality pizza oven, a 10-acre park and teacher planning rooms between classrooms.

That all seems a little excessive for a public school that -- let's face it -- is going to be housing lots of illegal immigrants. And who in the hell spends 20 years going from design to reality for a public school? That's what you get with union labor and politicians that have their hands out every step of the way.

Re:Hey big spender! (-1, Flamebait)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348554)

"That all seems a little excessive for a public school that -- let's face it -- is going to be housing lots of illegal immigrants."

California doesn't, except for a few old white folks (who will soon pass on) object to illegal immigration. For most Californians, the Reconquista cannot come soon enough.

It's their money to mismanage, and my right to wish California the total fiscal collapse it deserves.

Re:Hey big spender! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33348546)

I don't think anyone is criticizing the choice to build a new school. I believe people are criticizing the choice of materials and design that lead to the astronomical $600 per square foot cost you mentioned.

Re:Hey big spender! (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348626)

But it's more than that, it's the swimming pool, murals and a marble statue of RFK. That's hardly indicitive of fiscal responsibility. The statue and the murals at least could've easily been added down the road when the economy and California's situation in general was less precarious. What's more, leaving those bits out at the last minute wouldn't have been that difficult to do.

This isn't an investment in education, at least not purely, they could've had a much simpler building which was still perfectly safe and functional, even if it would likely lack the murals, statue and swimming pool. Things which none of the schools around here have. Well, one of them sort of has a swimming pool, but mostly because the public pool was constructed right next to the high school.

Re:Hey big spender! (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348660)

The other thing that caught my eye was the k-12 label.

Does that really mean K-12 housed in the same facility, or it it some kind of project id.

Drug swapping gang bangers in with the teddy bear crowd just seems so bone headed I can't imagine it in any city.

Waste of money (4, Funny)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348042)

For half a billion dollars, we could have had half a stealth bomber.

Re:Waste of money (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348128)

For half a billion dollars, we could have had half a stealth bomber.

Yeah, but something tells me this isn't what the hippies had in mind [northernsun.com] when they said "It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale [blogspot.com] to buy a bomber"...

It doesn't matter whether the procurement chain diverts the money to defense contractors or for texbook publishers: a bureaucracy's first order of business is to protect itself by expanding its mandate - and by extension, its budget.

Re:Waste of money (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348212)

and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale [blogspot.com] to buy a bomber

To be fair, their lemon bars are the bomb ...

So this is why my tuition went up 35 percent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33348048)

UC students am cry

Typical California (1)

Tetrarchy (1651907) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348050)

And they wonder why they have a $20 billion state deficit there

Re:Typical California (1)

Tanman (90298) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348180)

$20.5 billion

Re:Typical California (3, Funny)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348190)

$21 Billion. Sorry it changed after you posted.

It's so nice to see (2, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348052)

LA putting the same care and investment into these inner-city schools where there aren't any adequate schools that it does into wealthier neighborhoods.

Or am I thinking of some other location?

Almost there.... (1)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348056)

I can't wait for my kids to be schooling like they were in Serenity. Nice green, luscious gardens with open sitting areas and touch screens with cool GUI effects.

Re:Almost there.... (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348206)

That was only for the rich. The average slobs went to a building just like we did - or no schooling at all.

Re:Almost there.... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348656)

There's a reason for that. I'm not sure about other cities, but the Seattle public school district allows the community to donate facilities. Which is how the elementary school I went to came to have such a nice playground set up. The community got together and raised the funds, did a lot of the work themselves and suddenly there was a nice playground. Replacing the previous playground which wasn't quite as nice.

Unfortunately due to a lack of time, money and organization that tends not to happen in poorer neighborhoods.

Re:Almost there.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33348216)

And reapers. Don't forget the reapers.

Re:Almost there.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33348270)

Or Reavers even. They're much worse.

Re:Almost there.... (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348246)

Open sitting areas could be a problem in some locations. Any children sitting outside in Austin today would likely burst into flames.

Re:Almost there.... (3, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348456)

And the invasive brain surgery and mind control.... Wait, I guess we're just waiting for the invasive brain surgery parts

State-of-the-Art Swimming Pool? (5, Funny)

neltana (795825) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348080)

I just have to ask...what is the state-of-the-art when it comes to swimming pools? I kind of thought we had that nailed down years ago. What, do they fill them with ferrofluids or some space age gel now?

Re:State-of-the-Art Swimming Pool? (4, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348210)

Evian.

Re:State-of-the-Art Swimming Pool? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348238)

Alarms automagically go off when a poor kid pees in the pool. The rich kids buy 'pee in the pool' credits in advance and simply avoid the embarrassment.

Re:State-of-the-Art Swimming Pool? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348262)

Robotic lifeguards, hyper oxygenation to prevent drowning, etc.

Re:State-of-the-Art Swimming Pool? (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348284)

Hmm. You know, I've never thought about swimming in magnetic fluids until now. I wonder what it would feel like as you move through the field lines.

Re:State-of-the-Art Swimming Pool? (1)

Kenoli (934612) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348360)

It would feel like being cut to shreds, clearly.

Re:State-of-the-Art Swimming Pool? (1)

Maximus633 (1316457) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348576)

it's got electrolytes it's just what swimming pools need!

Re:State-of-the-Art Swimming Pool? (4, Informative)

djlemma (1053860) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348584)

I know you're joking, but there is actually a lot of research in swimming pool design. About a decade ago when I was in college, we had a brand new state of the art pool. It featured some things like a vacuum suction system for the gutters (to reduce wake reflecting from the walls) and a very specific depth and grade of the bottom so that the wave reflections from the bottom of the pool would tend to help propel a swimmer along.

This may seem like nothing, but swimming is a sport of hundredths of a second, so every little bit counts. There have been quite a few changes since I was swimming competitively- swimmers no longer wear tiny speedos, starting blocks are shaped differently so that the "track" starts are more effective.. there are lots of little things like this that help the latest generation of swimmers go a couple fractions of a second faster than the last.

Re:State-of-the-Art Swimming Pool? (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348632)

This being LA and this being a showcase school, they might be going for the Bay Watch-Big Brother look. The pool will have lifeguards who can't swim, but that come with their own silicon flotation devices. All the high school students will be at least 30 years old, and there will be cameras in the pool, cameras in the changing rooms, basically cameras everywhere.

Good, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33348088)

Will they teach creationism along with evolution?

Re:Good, but (2, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348226)

No. Unlike the Southern religious hypocrisy, we Californians are into a "green" kind of hypocrisy.

Take, for example, a mandate that buildings have flushless urinals installed to save water. Yet, the same buildings often feature auto-flushing toilets which flush everytime you wipe your ass(that is, at least twice, and often more) where each flush has enough power to swallow a basketball-sized dump. Wasteful, and very hypocritical.

Re:Good, but (1, Troll)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348252)

They need to teach the kids how to pray for more money for their school system ...

it's all about accountability (5, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348090)

i would be happy to pay teachers and school administrators 6 figure incomes, provided they churned out highly educated students

but i'm sorry, if a teacher sucks, they should be fired. and unfortunately, for standing against this common sense measure, the teacher's unions has made themselves an enemy of higher quality education

the usa will fall in this world while other countries with a better grasp on how serious education is will rise. there really is nothing wrong with spending a lot of money on education. but HOW that money is spent, without any accountability, is going to destroy this country

Re:it's all about accountability (4, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348300)

I used to think the same thing, but then I realized something.

My daughter will not be getting the crap public education that other children get. She may attend public school, but I make sure that's supplemented with education at home. As a result, she is significantly ahead of her peers as far as the formal education is concerned, and she is already beginning to develop critical thinking skills ( that, frankly, most adults lack ).

My point is this; parents that care will make sure their children are well educated. Those that don't will provide future grunt labor needs. Our country can't survive without this critical resource. We can't all be astronauts, as the saying goes. As long as we are able to provide the basics ( reading/writing/math ) for the majority of citizens, our country will do fine. Those that need or want more education will always be able to get it, and those of us who want more for our children will always provide it.

Re:it's all about accountability (4, Insightful)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348324)

From my own experience, even if you catch a teacher flunking students intentionally you still can't get them fired. At least not if they have tenure. New teachers make next to nothing, teachers who have their tenure make substantially more. So you have teachers that can't get fired and are making lots of money while also dominating water-cooler politics, and at the same time you have new teachers trying to make a difference while making next to nothing and trying to keep out of trouble with water-cooler politics. Yeah, after what I saw in high-school, I decided I would never become a teacher unless I was independently wealthy enough to be able to quit at any time for any reason. And you wonder why it's the bad teachers that tend to stick around.

Re:it's all about accountability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33348498)

From my own experience, even if you catch a teacher flunking students intentionally you still can't get them fired.

I'm sure you richly deserved the F. Mommy and Daddy ranting at the principal and threatening legal action didn't get the teacher fired or get rid of the F? Boo-frickin'-hoo.

Hope you enjoy community college.

Re:it's all about accountability (1, Informative)

msauve (701917) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348506)

From my own experience, even if you catch a teacher flunking students intentionally you still can't get them fired. At least not if they have tenure.

You're confused. The problem is not one of flunking good students, it's one of passing poor ones to the next teacher in line, so they don't have to work on educating them.

Re:it's all about accountability (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348354)

How can you tell who sucks, though? You can put the best teacher into a bad environment and they'll do poorly. You put them into a school where they're underpaid, the school barely has supplies, the students don't care that they'll never make it through school, the parents actively encourage them to not do homework, etc. Traditionally these are all the problems of inner city schools. They can be fixed with programs, supplies, and better paid teachers.

There are three people associated with a child in their school time. The parents, the teachers, and the kids themselves. Starting with the parents, we have to get them to care. There are parents that actively encourage their kids to 'go out and play' rather than do homework. There are parents that cannot or will not provide safety and nourishment for their children. There are parents that actively abuse them. Find a way to make the parents play nice or take their kids away, possibly levying criminal charges. With the teachers, pay them more. Hire them some help so they don't have to put in 12 hour days. Make sure that they don't have to buy supplies out of pocket. Keep them well trained and in the loop. Lastly, with the kids, punish bullying harshly and swiftly. Since it's mostly about image, let them know just how manly it makes them look to pick on kids that they perceive to be weaker than them. Get rid of the fighting and the weapons. Bust up the gangs. Make school feel SAFE for them. You can't learn if you're worried about getting shanked in third period or which one of your friends took that bullet out in the courtyard.

Re:it's all about accountability (1)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348650)

Well put.

How can you tell who sucks, though?

Simple. You RTFA and see who's complaining and why. Even better, study the issue like Renraku who mentioned gangs as an important problem.

Here's the quote that got me, which nobody cared to address:

"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."

How the fuck do you blame teachers for kids not showing up to school?

But instead of details like this and building costs mentioned in other posts, all we get on Slashdot is the standard anti-government rants. But nope, the small-government freaks hadn't the courage to stand up for their usual demands for "personal responsibility" as an equally appropriate argument to the freak quoted in the article.

Re:it's all about accountability (0, Troll)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348356)

the usa will fall in this world while other countries with a better grasp on how serious education is will rise

What do you mean will? It's been happening for at least fifteen years.
Texas used to be the low tax state and decided sacrificing decent education was a good trade off. Others followed the lead and now the previously poor standards in Texas are better than far worse in other places. Reagan lowered the bar even furthur over the entire nation, and now people that "lurned ta wread under Raygun" are in positions of responsibility but ill equipt to perform them.
The only thing saving the US education system at the top end now is that it still has a very high quality of postgraduate education, but that has been hurt badly by restricitons on foreign students in recent years.

Re:it's all about accountability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33348372)

I appreciate that for many nerds here on slashdot, school represented a particularly painful time of your life and as a result of that many of you hold teachers in low regard. Many, such as the circlejerk above me see an education article as yet another opportunity to blast teachers and/or their unions, but please try to not let your dislike of teachers make you look like an idiot here. This has nothing at all to do with teachers, teacher accountability, or unions for that matter and everything to do with administrative waste. Come on it says right in the summary that this example of largess came despite massive teacher layoffs. Although the topic of accountability and teacher pay is one that should be debated (although with someone more informed than you), it is in this instance as off topic as a discussion of Windows vs Open source.

Re:it's all about accountability (1)

Locando (131600) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348452)

At least here in California, just about all the teachers that I've met who are active in the union grumble about how reluctant administrators are to fire incompetent teachers. It seems like principals, though, are more often willing to backhandedly try to get rid of someone for political reasons than they are to openly challenge a teacher's competence. The only people that in the current system have the authority to judge whether a teacher is good or not are the school administrators, and there's little to no oversight to ensure that they don't play favorites (not too different from a lot of other jobs, I don't think). Of course, unlike many other jobs, teachers can still be highly effective even if they act completely against their boss's ideology.

Unions aren't interested in making it any more difficult to fire teachers. But you can't really blame them for being supportive of certain aspects of the status quo when they know that if the requirements for termination were more lax, a lot of those pesky pro-union teachers would be the first against the wall, regardless of how good they are at their jobs.

K-12? (2, Funny)

jewishbaconzombies (1861376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348142)

In one place? Must make beating younger students up for money real easy with the age spread. Even the most wimpy sophomore can always prey on the toddlers.

Re:K-12? (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348416)

I went to a school that had K-3, 7-12 on the same building complex.

There wasn't much intermingling.

Administrative Offices (2, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348164)

I bet such a luxury compound has some swanky digs for the guys at the top. They don't say much about that understandably. But heck, nothing is too good for the administrators.

A monument... (3, Insightful)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348198)

What is this? Some kind of parody of everything that's wrong with America? Is the developer supposed to come out from behind the curtain and say, "you idiots! This was a test! You weren't supposed to actually approve this thing!"?

For better or worse... (5, Informative)

sydlexius (6356) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348204)

Schools such as RFK were built with funds from a bond measure passed by voters in the LA county area. The terms of this bond measure requires that funds be spent on construction, and forbade any other use. There was a very good piece on this issue that I've linked to: http://www.kcet.org/socal/socal_connected_online/video/blackboard-bungle.html [kcet.org]

Too fucking big (3, Insightful)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348220)

Bigger schools means teachers and students are seen less as humans and just another tally mark to the administration. I could see the benefit if they have some good technical classes so they would have good and up to date tools to work with but other than that, it's just not good.

Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33348228)

That is about $138,000 per student. My private HS spent at least [waymarking.com] $60 million in a restoration (only) for 1200 students: $50,000 per student. I thought the restoration cost was higher. Residential construction is often $100-$200 per SF (square feet, 10 square feet is about a square meter for you metric FREAKS!). So $138,000 would be ~700 to 1400 SF per student. Thinking back fondly on grade school, we had 30 students in a room that was likely 30' by 30' or 900 SF. Given additional facilities, I would estimate each student had about 60 SF (30 x 30 x 2 / 30).

There is no doubt a school could be built for less. Is that better? Who knows.

Re:Perspective (4, Funny)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348326)

There is no doubt a school could be built for less.

Were you tipped off by the fact that this is the most expensive public school?

Cost does not mean quality (4, Insightful)

ElectricBuddha (1726624) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348260)

When I was going to high school in the late 90s and early 00s, I was one of the first classes to use the $80 million dollar "palace" of a high school that the local government built for the students. However, during my four years in high school, it became pretty apparent pretty quickly that just because it cost $80 million dollars to build doesn't necessarily mean it's worth $80 million dollars. As the result of no-compete bids and cronyism between the contractors and local government, by the end of my 4th year, the whole place was starting to fall apart and it was only about 6 years old at this point. I think one of the students literally managed to kick or hit the dedication stone into the wall.

Who approved this, and why weren't they fired? (2, Insightful)

Mike Van Pelt (32582) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348282)

Dang. There's most of the district's budget shortfall, right there in this one half a billion $ + monument to waste and excess.

Re:Who approved this, and why weren't they fired? (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348654)

Yeah, do you have any idea how many B-2 Bombers [wikipedia.org] you could buy with that kind of money?

Every time (5, Insightful)

drumcat (1659893) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348380)

If anyone wonders why anyone votes "NO" on bond measures and referendums, this is why. We all want good educations for our youth, but disproportionate allocation and spending like this wreak of corruption and misappropriation. Other nations leap ahead because they are actually putting real teachers in place, paying them well and firing the bad ones, and supporting students all across their country. Our system is so locally based that there is no way to ever lift up those in a bad tax base. Instead, the rich get rich public schools, and the poor get either terrible facilities or overfunded behemoths with sub-par teachers. It's really time to eliminate local school districts, and fund states equally. That way, when a state legislature passes more ed money around, it goes to the right places.

A legacy for someone besides RFK (1)

wrightrocket (1664871) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348394)

You can bet there is one or more politicians claiming this as their legacy... like the grand new library they are planning for downtown San Diego.

Too many agendas (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348450)

One thing that I picked up from the article were the additional requirements imposed upon this project by siting it on a historic location. I've seen this situation before. Some group has a need, but no source for funds to accomplish their task. So they latch on to some agency with money to spend. The school district has one item on their charter: running schools. When someone else approached them with a project or precious piece of property to save, they should have run, not walked away.

Capital costs != operating costs. (3, Informative)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348508)

Critics note that nearly 3,000 teachers have been laid off over the past two years, the academic year and programs have been slashed, the district faces a $640 million shortfall and some schools persistently rank among the nation's lowest performing.

Keep in mind that capital costs and operating costs are very different things when it comes to government accounting. Very often funds from higher levels of government are for capital costs only. Capital costs provide quick economic turnover which is something the government strives to do. If they hadn't built this school it doesn't mean the money would have gone to pay teachers. Not that I'm suggesting that the system is ok, just that you shouldn't necessarily criticize this particular project on these grounds.

Maintenance Cost (4, Interesting)

BondGamer (724662) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348528)

With a price tag like that, the upkeep is going to be astronomical. When they upgraded our local school to have air conditioning, they couldn't turn it on because it would cost ~$25,000 just to start! They are also talking about turning a perfectly good grass field into astroturf at a cost of 1 million dollars.

blame it partly on the procurement process (2, Insightful)

myc (105406) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348562)

I don't know about other states, but in CA once money is earmarked for construction (many times it's so-called "one-time" money, or money that came from a one time windfall), one is prohibited from using it for any other purpose. For instance, at my daughter's school district, the new annex just completed this year at the district office has leather couches, mahoghany accent tables, and marble floors in their reception area. All the money for the construction of this annex was earmarked years ago, when the economy was still "strong". Despite the fact that the actual monetary needs of the district are elsewhere (teachers anyone?), they cannot use the money for anything else, even though it would have made much more sense to go with cheaper materials and use the surplus from construction to fund instruction.

Borrowed money (1)

Cinnaman (954100) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348612)

I assume that the entire amount was borrowed at interest from a bank?

Note that even central banks (eg. the Federal Reserve) are invariably privately owned.

Does it run linux? (1)

joelsanda (619660) | more than 4 years ago | (#33348686)

eom
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