June 30, 2004
This SEED Needs Money To Grow
The SEED Public Charter School in D.C. is a public boarding school (!) that just sent its first graduating class to college. All of it. Here’s the demographics, courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor:
Ninety percent come from homes below the poverty line; 88 percent come from single parent or no parent households, and 93 percent are the first generation in their families to go to college.
Plenty more in the CSM about SEED’s program, and a more personal view in The Washington Post (in an article titled “SEED’s Harvest” — clearly this school was named expressly for the benefit of headline writers everywhere).
Now, this boarding-school goodness doesn’t come cheap: It’s about 25 grand per year, per student. Some critics say that invalidates the SEED model; if it needs grants from Bill Gates and Oprah to make ends meet, it clearly isn’t applicable to other urban public school systems. That was my initial reaction as well.
… the best way to get more funding is to show that more funding actually helps if used correctly— which this program seems to do.
Hmm. Oh yeah.
So basically what you’re telling me, SEED, is that you are Hogwarts, and with just a little bit of moolah (and come on, we can spare it — here in Florida we pay $18,000 to incarcerate somebody for a year), you can transform kids with few prospects into college-bound wizards and witches?
I can’t believe I ever scoffed at that. Since when did the central challenge of public education become finding ways to stretch a measly $4000 (the average expenditure per public school student in the U.S., more or less)? We oughtta be encouraging experiments like SEED and then trumpeting their successes — to policymakers, yes, but also to philanthropists.
Sure enough, Eduwonk reports that SEED is planting— err, planning to set up shop in some new communities. (Har har!)