Sunday, January 17, 2010

WP: Ellington May Move Nearby

Picture 3
I believe this is a rather bad photo of Logan (from Google Maps).

The Post reports that the District is considering moving Duke Ellington School of the Arts from its current home in Georgetown to a location (formerly Logan Elementary) near 2nd and G Street (by Union Station). Ellington is considered one of the top public high schools in DC, and boasts a 99% on time graduation rate. Typically, over 95% of graduates are admitted to colleges, or conservatories.

As has already been pointed out on a local listserv, this could be a very thing. We would get to have a terrific, and unique high school nearby, and the students would have access to the Atlas Performing Arts Center, the H Street Playhouse, and multiple galleries.


ro said...

whoa boy. while this certainly would be good for our neighborhood, i can't see Duke Ellington getting booted from gtown anytime soon, at least not in an election year. regardless of whether it's a sensible move, this has the potential for a political fallout that Fenty can't afford, and that Rhee probably doesn't want to deal with considering her time is short anyway

YL said...

Okay -- bets on which happens first:

a. Trolley car rolls down H St.

b. Trader Joes announced as ground-floor tenant of new building at 4th and H.

c. Ellington moves to 2nd and G.

soul searcher said...

i hope this happens!!!!! talk about motivation for upwardly mobile parents to come to/stay in the neighborhood!

and i'm sure it would help the development on the west side of h...

logan certainly is prime space for such a relocation, it's a very large parcel.

i support this!

we've got a very diverse generation of young tikes in the surrounding area...i see quite a bit of theatrics on the playgrounds....can't wait to see some of them on a stage :-)

Robby said...

While I think this move is a good one. I fear it will become a political and racial midfield (I'm remembering Mayor Williams' plans to move UDC - another smart choice that didn't happen due to the politics of race). Here though, the Mayor has an opportunity to move the premier high school to a central location. And unlike the UDC planned move, the quality of the neighborhoods in the Ellington exchange is pretty even. GTWN is slightly more posh, but the area around Logan is also very nice. We will see how the politicians frame the issue. It will be an interesting year, no doubt.

Anonymous said...

As a fairly close neighbor, I'd love to see this happen, but only if part of the site could be built up with additional mixed-use development. It's such a large site to not have additional small offices and retail along 2nd Street.

charles said...

A couple of comments from a DCPS parent:

Ellington is not "the premier high school." Wilson, School Without Walls and Banneker are all considered by most parents to have better academic programs. Ellington is a good choice for students who want to concentrate in performing arts. Admission is by audition.

I'm not sure how much of an inducement it would be for parents to move to the area. Ellington students come from all over the city, the major appeal of this site would be proximity to Metro.

Eastern High School, which has not been accepting new students for the past several years, is supposed to reoopen next fall (if it stays on schedule). It is being touted as a great academic program. If it pans out this could have a big impact on H Street corridor and other surrounding areas.

Hillman said...

If you look at the WP article this is being characterized as some sort of evil racist plot.

I'm not quite sure how making this by-audition-only school far more metro accessible, in an area with an up and coming arts scene, and located closer to where most of it's students live is some evil racist plot.

But apparently it is.

So there will be some nasty politics involved here.

Ah, the never-ending joy that is DC.

I agree that it'd be great to see some additional retail or other development on the site. It's a massive site.

Maybe an open-to-the-public arts use there as well? To maybe subsidize the student programs?

Anonymous said...

on the surface it sounds good. definitely good for our neighborhood.
but digging in it may be problematic.

soul searcher said...

i went over to the washington post article and read the comments section.

there are some very valid arguments being made about parents and third parties investing large sums to renovate ellington, only to have it move across the city, apparently without input from stakeholders. that seems to be poor management. if extensive resources have been invested to make arts-specific improvements (dance floors, etc) to the current ellington location, moving it to logan to repeat those improvements AND possibly renovating the current ellington *again* to retrofit it for a non arts-specific school seems to be duplicative and a waste of resources.

i know that ellington is by audition only. i think the presence of a high school with a clear college prep purpose, even though it is limited to students with artistic ability, would serve as more draw for the neighborhood than the current logan location post-SWW (especially if the school is renovated entirely). can we agree on that?

as for arguments about race, there are certainly viable concerns if (as the comments posit) there are other ward 2 locations that can be retrofitted to become a Ward 2 neighborhood school *other* than the current Ellington location.

I'm torn now, after reading the comments.

I have met several Duke Ellington alum during my time in DC. They all seem uniformly bright and personable.

I suppose the by-audition angle would limit the appeal of it to area parents, but it would be nice if your child auditioned and was accepted to a school within walking distance, no?

Hillman said...

"as for arguments about race, there are certainly viable concerns if (as the comments posit) there are other ward 2 locations that can be retrofitted to become a Ward 2 neighborhood school *other* than the current Ellington location."

So do you agree with WP posters, that this is some sort of racist plot, or no?

How in the world would making this high-achieving school more accessible, in a better metro-accessible location,easier for minority students to get to, most likely closer to where these minority students actually live, possibly be racist?

If anything, keeping it in nearly all white Georgetown, with limited metro access, would seem to be more elitist than the alternative of moving it to Logan.

The considerable majority of the WP comments were all about how this was racist, that supposedly Fenty and Rhee had racist motives. After being called on this (by yours truly) some recent posters have been posting more reasonable arguments, like retrofitting, private monies sunk into current location, etc.

I honestly don't know if the logistics for a move make sense.

But could someone please explain how this is racist if the Logan facility can offer the same services as the current location, plus a better location?

Or is it all about the symbolism of keeping a majority-black facility in a white neighborhood, regardless of whether that's actually good for the students or not?

charles said...

"Or is it all about the symbolism of keeping a majority-black facility in a white neighborhood ... "

I think you have hit the nerve ... but let's not forget, symbolism is meaningful and it can mean different things to different people.

Whether this happens or not it's good to know that DCPS is thinking about making better use of the Logan facility/location.

the poo studied drama said...

ridiculous. if we go by the "logic" of some poster above, we should make sure that there's a "black" school in every "white" neigborhood in america. it's about the art, stupid.

the art.

Anonymous said...

The Ellington school is very nice. You can tell that generations students and parents have put a lot of love and sweat into it. You bet that I'd love to have that school at 2nd & G NE. IF Ellington moves here, I will support it in any way that I can.

Derek said...

off topic:

Earlier, I was walking by Sidomo's and noticed that the Wine Store next door to it is open for business. They have a nice wine selection for now but are getting more soon.

soul searcher said...

So do you agree with WP posters, that this is some sort of racist plot, or no?

^ ^ i hate strawman arguments. one, i don't remember anyone in the comments section saying "this is a racist plot". two, i couldn't prove whether it was or it wasn't, since i do not have wiretaps in fenty and rhee's respective offices.

"How in the world would making this high-achieving school more accessible, in a better metro-accessible location,easier for minority students to get to, most likely closer to where these minority students actually live, possibly be racist?"

^ well, if it were an actual plot and someone sat down and said "there are too many black students in ward 2" then it would be a plot, but that would be circular and patently obvious, eh?

"If anything, keeping it in nearly all white Georgetown, with limited metro access, would seem to be more elitist than the alternative of moving it to Logan."

^ ^ are you saying that ellington's *current* location is a racist plot? LOL.

"But could someone please explain how this is racist if the Logan facility can offer the same services as the current location, plus a better location?"

^ ^ people in this formerly jim crow city are sensitive about race, thus the idea of relocating a black-majority school to a browner neighborhood probably reminds people of some earlier time when resources were shuffled about based on neighborhood demographics. the main problem i see is if black AND white parents paid to retrofit ellington's current location, it would seem odd to place it here AFTER the retrofitting (I didn't even know all the renovation that had taken place until I read the WP comments)

"Or is it all about the symbolism of keeping a majority-black facility in a white neighborhood, regardless of whether that's actually good for the students or not?"

^ I think it is the inverse: there is concern about the symbolism of *moving* a majority black school to a blacker neighborhood in an environment where the black population in DC generally is experiencing displacement in certain areas of the city.

Surely you are willing to concede that *any* movement of a school, even absent racial concerns, has an emotional component for people historically "used to" the older location?

soul searcher said...

oh, and let me add, logan just looks terrible. i think my initial enthusiasm was because i thought they would renovate logan. it looks like an old military base or something. even if ellington does not relocate there, i hope they renovate logan somehow and put a quality school there. as of now, to me personally, it is an eyesore (if anyone likes how it looks now, forgive me)

does anyone have any stats on the age of kids in the surrounding area? will we have a need for a neighborhood high school in that location by, say, 2020? just judging by the number of children i see around and about, i would say there are a decent sized number of families with children in "greater capitol hill" (my made up name for everyone north of h combined with traditional capitol hill)

do we have sufficient middle school and high school resources for the next wave of kids in "greater capitol hill" to attend?

Anonymous said...

Logan does look terrible. Removing the rusting security grates from the windows is an absolute must. Installing central AC so those stupid looking window unit ACs can go, the little kid bathrooms have to be upgraded to adult size. An auditorium, dance studios, music practice rooms have to be built. It will be a lot of work, but it can be done.

It's going to take years for this to happen. Most if not all of the current Ellington students will be gone. Some of the comments on the Post are just the usual anti Rhee and Fenty rants, many of the rest are the same comments that are made every time a school is closed in DC. Some people just have emotional attachment to their school.

the poo embraces change said...

i agree with soul searcher, et. al.

logan looks like crap. i go past there every day of the week. it's crumbling, not to mention that, architecturally, it looks like crap. the windows are barred, and rusting. the paint (where there is paint) is flaking. it's a huge eyesore. i can't imagine what it's like inside! isn't there some adult education center on the south side of the parking lot?

oboe said...

When it comes to any topic with anything to do with DCPS, The Washington Post comments section is a cesspool of race-baiting, and disgruntled underperforming laid-off teachers with an axe to grind against Rhee.

Is this move something that Rhee is in favor of? In that case, it must be a racist plot. After all, as far as these folks are concerned, Rhee is the incarnation of pure evil. Her sole purpose in life is to drink the blood of innocent schoolchildren.

inked said...

Hey Poo Poo,
since you have been having issues recently with people posting under your name (to write some nasty stuff), you might want to consider registering. I know you think that's akin to the apacalypse, but you can use a fake name to obtain an email account and use that. You know, considering that you are a DC boy, you can't be all that anonymous, because none of us are in the end.

Abrigado in advance,

p.s. I first saw your photo about 2 years ago. If I can find it, so can anyone else.

charles said...

I will never understand why some people (Poo) need to call other people names ("Stupid") just because they have a different opinion about something.

Hillman said...


You don't see a racebaiting element to many of the WP comments?

I'll post you a few excerpts:

The great, liberal city of Washington, D.C. is pushing the black kids out of upper-NW into the bantustans east of the river. You have to love D.C.'s white liberal community!

the end Georgetown will be more white as a result of the Hardy and Ellington decisions. This is how you have to analyze this- what is going to be the end result. And to think about announcing this on Martin Luther King Holiday weekend. It is absolutely outrageous.

But in the end, Mrs. Rhee is probably just folloowing the advice of the poster at
who called the current students at Hardy Midddle School "occupiers".

Mrs. Rhee is now planning to get rid of the "occupiers" at the former Western High School.

No, the high school will be named Chez Whitey.

what is really happening in this city .... have we just totally reverted back 60 years where ppl just don't want their kids educated next to black kids. this is another travesty in the making by rhee, fenty and now jack evans. you really can't turn the page back that far and not expect ppl to scream bloody murder. this is absolutely disgusting. i've been in the logan building and it's not fit for anyone's high school.

Segregation is wrong even when you like it. I'm so glad that I left such a backwards system. DC is always promoting itself as progressive when in fact it's always attempting to revert backwards.


Occupiers? Chez Whitey? Invoking MLK? Pushing black kids "east of the river" (never mind the obvious..... that Logan is not east of the river and is in fact in a pretty prosperous neighborhood, by DC standards)?

Ellington is a beautiful building, and apparently it got that way in large part by private donations and a crap-ton of work by parents and students.

And it may not make sense to move to Logan, for logistics or cost or support reasons.

But that's not the same as re-activating Jim Crow.

I understand your point about sensitivity to returning to Jim Crow days.

But applying that to this situation is just stunningly stupid, and does a disservice to the kids involved, as it warps the entire argument from the very beginning.

Ah, yes, I've wanted to make an 'it's about the kids' blanket argument for some time.... now I get my chance.

So which will it be? Some overwrought and incorrectly applied symbolism for cheap political and personal gain (we all know that using race and class issues as a bully pulpit in the school system in particular is a time-honored path to political patronage and office in DC), or an actual discussion about how to use these resources for actual education?

Anonymous said...

They did some exterior renovations to Logan prior to the School Without Walls moving in -- put on a new roof, painted some and replaced some windows. But apparently, there wasn't the budget given to finish the job. At one point pre-Rhee, the School Board was supposed to move into the site but that plan is long gone, so I suspect DCPS is figuring out what if anything to do with this place long-term.

oboe said...

You don't see a racebaiting element to many of the WP comments?

Oh, come off it Hillman. This is the WaPo comments-section, after all. There's nothing *but* racebaiting comments and a parade of ignorance.

It's where angry exurban Red-Stater's go to express their contempt for anyone who doesn't hate America's values as much as they do.

Surely you must know this by now?

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soul searcher said...

when you say "racist plot", i'm thinking tuskegee experiments or something far more sinister

yes, race baiting...of course...that is the WP comment section way, sadly

that particular post seems to be the traditional conspiracy theory line about most every major school relocation/closing decision that has happened since fenty has been in office.

sometimes that line makes more sense than others, like when williams proposed to move overwhelmingly black UDC from overwhelmingly white Van Ness to overwhelmingly black SE (east of the river). it looked like a land grab, walked like a land grab and quacked like a land grab.

but here, you are correct, that line does not hold up as well...

in the end, this is a proposal...and the money it would take to turn logan from what it is now to what the current ellington location looks like would be HUGE.

i don't know how far this will go.

obviously i have a personal interest, as a neighbor, in seeing logan getting renovated

ellington parents and alum are a strong constituency though. just spoke with another alum who thinks that this move will not be in the best interest of the school. and so many people have put money into renovating the current ellington location...

i'm not certain if fenty has the political capital to pull this off.

soul searcher said...

google mapped 3200 P St NW. no idea what the folks in the WP comment section were talking about, no school is visible in street view.

Hillman said...


One positive aspect of this whole thing...... neighbors close to Logan are enthusiastic about the school possibly relocating here.

In decades past you may not have had such enthusiasm for a majority black school.

I'd argue that's progress.

As for the UDC proposal, of course it was a land grab, in part.

And that's a good thing.

The UDC campus sits on VERY expensive real estate.

And most UDC students don't come from that neighborhood.

They come from lower income areas.

It made perfect sense to suggest using the VERY expensive UDC campus to generate $$ for the DC coffers generally, and recreate UDC on much less expensive land, in a location that better serves the majority of it's students.

But, again, the symbolism won out over actual common sense.

I make the same argument for homeless shelters. We insist on maintaining them on very expensive real estate, strictly for symbolism. Example? The Mitch Snyder Center. Quite possibly the most expensive land possible. An entire city block.

The facility is decrepit, and it's only. what, three full stories, in an area zoned for 10 stories plus?

The city could sell that parcel and create a new Mitch Snyder Center elsewhere, where the cost of real estate isn't so stunningly inflated. You could get a parcel that size for literally 1/10th the price in other areas that are equally well served by metro, city services, etc. It could be grand - with fantastic job training and drug rehab facilities, etc.

And still have tens of millions of dollars left over for city coffers.

Or better yet, keep the land and allow a developer to build a massive office building (with retail on the first floor), and have a huge income stream forever, both from the massive office rents paid, and from the new jobs created.

It would serve the homeless better, and we've have $$ in the bank, to use on other vital city services.

But no. The symbolism of 'keeping the homeless visible' wins out over actually creating viable services.

That's the kind of stupidity that will apparently forever cloud all major decisions we make in this town.

Hillman said...


Sadly, racist hate and general stupidity is not uncommon on WP forums. It comes from all sides, not just white against black.

I would argue, though, that we are less willing to call out black on white racism, even when it's blatant.

I do wonder sometimes what the future of online posting will be.

First we had the freedom to post pretty much anonymously. And that led to extremes. Some were great - the freedom to voice unpopular opinions. But with that comes the haters and the stupidity.

I wonder how this will all shape up, say, five or ten years from now.

Hillman said...

One other note on the UDC matter.....

People constantly complain that there is no investment in poorer communities.

Williams offered to bring UDC into a poorer community. That would have brought jobs, additional development, better educational opportunities in the neighborhood (well, as good as UDC is or isn't) etc.

But he was roundly bashed for that effort.

All for cheap symbolism and political opportunism.

So for those that constantly complain about lack of investment in poor neighborhoods, this stands as a shining example of someone trying to fix that and being shouted down for no good reason.

charles said...

"The city could sell that parcel and create a new Mitch Snyder Center elsewhere, where the cost of real estate isn't so stunningly inflated."

Great idea. Maybe you would like such a faciliy on your block?

See, it isn't quite so easy.

I do agree with making better use of valuable locations. The Logan campus might eventually fall into that category. Nobody wants to attend school in a decrepit building.

Hillman said...


The city owns or could easily own quite a few parcels where the impact on immediate 'in the block' neighbors would be fairly minimal, comparatively speaking. For instance, there are areas where there is buildable land without residences abutting (commercial/industrial strips, etc.)

And perhaps some of the burden should be shifted to the burbs (yes, of course they'd fight that).

CB said...

Let me first start by saying that I’m a Duke Ellington alum, as well as a NW DC native. Of course I am all for seeing neighborhoods renovated to look nice and provide better opportunities for its residents, but please understand that is exactly what Ellington in Georgetown has offered its students for many years. Now let me see if I can address some of the comments made:

•Mainly, students and parents are upset about the proposed move because they were notified via Washington Post AFTER extensive plans were made and without ANY consultation beforehand. The board President has reached out to Rhee and Fenty to get included on future plans but, of course, no response.
•Lots of my classmates and current students come from sections of SE and SW that many wouldn't dare to venture into and spending 7-8 hours a day away from these neighborhoods provides an escape many of you could never truly understand.
•Georgetown is a safe-have - kids that escaped constant drug and other negative activity did not have to worry about that mess following them to school because it was not easily accessible. Do you remember the Boulevard before the metro was added? Nuff said!
•Yes, Elllington is the premier ARTS high school in DC and Logan is metro-accessible, but it IS NOT an adequate facility to house a full-production stage (not a converted gymnasium), dance studios, sound-proof music rooms, visual arts studios and gallery space in addition to classroom space.
•IF Logan were considered, it would take an exorbitant amount of money to be converted and where would this come from? Over the years, donations have come in to make renovations to the existing location but to start from scratch with funds coming from DCPS when there are other (regular) DCPS schools that still need books, supplies and even teachers is a complete waste of resources.
•There is nothing racist about the move, if anything, it’s political. Possibly even elitist but who in this city doesn’t consider Georgetown as “upper-crust?” To the students, it was never a black/white/class thing, it was and always will be about the art!
•The Wash. Post comments seem to attack Rhee, because this is the 2nd time she has targeted a good DC school (Hardy being 1st) that had a better track record than many others and folks are wondering why she would mess with a good thing? Ellington currently boasts a 99% graduation rate and 95% college acceptance rate.

Point blank, Logan CANNOT offer the same services as the current Ellington location so why fix it if it ain’t broken?

Please feel free to respond, I am open for respectful dialogue. Thank you.