Thank you for Jeff Horwitz’s “Class Dismissed” (5/27), which painted a fine snapshot of a seventh-grade student’s experience at Jefferson Junior High School. Although the article provided some background and a quote from Dr. E. Faye Williams describing the situation at Jefferson, it was, of course, absent the perspectives of most teachers, members of the community, and parents. In regard to the last: There are implications in the student’s mother’s request that the student not be identified in the article.
I am convinced that an accurate and newsworthy headline about Jefferson Junior High School might be “School of Distinction’s Academic Distinction Rapidly Eroding.” Jefferson’s vulnerable AOL-funded media class, where I volunteered until this school year, would have provided an excellent forum to explore and report on verifiable evidence describing the state of education and well-being for students at Jefferson. For example, the astute students in the media class might investigate: why School Superintendent Clifford Janey has not responded to letters from teachers, parents, and members of the Southwest community; why Jefferson’s temporary leadership appears to create and manipulate conflict among Jefferson stakeholders; how goals and objectives for academic achievement with character-building have been lost and are no longer encouraged at Jefferson; how District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) representatives who are sent to Jefferson to assist and restore stability are, instead, rude and disrespectful to parents and teachers.
The perceptive young media students would likely wonder how Janey anticipates any success with his declaration to roll out a plan for academic achievement throughout DCPS when he has not deemed it important to respond to the fast-growing crisis in one school over which he has responsibility. Jefferson students’ article would likely generate discourse among elected and appointed officials regarding why they remain silent spectators to a creeping crisis in a public school that was once a DCPS jewel. The article would almost certainly not simply focus on a dismissed class but pose a query regarding the missing superintendent in the midst of compromised health, safety, and educational excellence at one school for which he has professional responsibility. Where is Janey?