The Los Angeles public school system, the second-largest in the country, is set to unveil its new Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools complex, a K-12 "Taj Mahal" school that cost $578 million, the most expensive in US history. Too much?
Many people think so! The idea is obviously to make school a place where kids actually want to be, but is a pretty outside really worth it when the insides are a little rotten? Are grubby children worth that much money? A member of the California Board of Education tells the AP:
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
That same taxpayer money is also not being used to employ quite as many actual educators these days, as 3,000 LA teachers have been laid off in the past two years.
LA's RFK isn't the only mega-expensive school facing criticism for benefiting from a kind of budget largess. New sprawling campuses in Boston, New York, and New Jersey have been targeted for overemphasizing style over substance. I'm all for schools looking nice, but do we really need all this:
Nationwide, dozens of schools have surpassed $100 million with amenities including atriums, orchestra-pit auditoriums, food courts, even bamboo nooks
Atria??? (Looks like an AP writer could have learned their Latinates better in school...) Places for the orchestra to play?? Outrageous. Those food courts and bamboo nooks sound totally sweet, though.