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A couple weeks ago, while I was hanging out in Spingarn High’s workout room for a story on the sorry state of the school’s football program, a woman walked in holding a clipboard with several pages of names.
She called out each name, and asked Paris Adon, the Spingarn football coach, how many hours each kid spent in the workout room. Times generally ranged from 0 to 40 hours per week, though Adon said he’d never heard of several of the names on the list.
I’m sorta slow, and city government scandals ain’t my bailiwick, but when the woman asked if it would be all right to put paychecks on the kids’ “debit cards,” it finally hit me that that she was an auditor working with the fabled summer jobs program, and that the kids on her list were being paid to hang out at Spingarn’s workout room.
But, as bizarre as the city has been my whole life, I couldn’t believe tax dollars would actually go to kids to lift weights and play pool. I had to deliver newspapers or pool chlorine (still the two best jobs I ever had).
So I asked Adon: Kids are being paid to come to Spingarn and work out? That’s a summer job in D.C.? No way!
Way! Adon told me.
“And I still can’t get anybody to show up,” Adon said. “But that’s a whole other story.”