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Once Again: Ordinary Services at Extraordinary Prices

When we learned earlier this month that Arlington had the highest per capita taxes in Northern Virginia, we repeated what we've previously growled which is that Arlington has ordinary services, but the price in taxes and fees paid is extraordinary.

We were reminded of that when today’s Washington Post reported that Arlington Public Schools (APS) was just one of many Virginia schools that fell short of meeting its so-called Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) targets. According to the Post:

“Tighter federal testing requirements for students with limited English skills fueled a growth in the number of Virginia public schools that failed to make adequate progress in the past academic year, according to scores the state released this morning.”

The Post went on to report that APS, specifically, went from having 9 of 30 (30%) schools failing to make AYP in the 2005-2006 school year to having 14 of 30 (46.7%) schools failing to make AYP in 2006-2007. By comparison, all of Virginia’s schools went from 22% to 26% in making AYP. But top management of APS said they are not to blame. A report in today’s online Arlington Sun-Gazette included this quote from the Superintendent:

“Subjecting students who cannot read English to a grade-level reading test serves no valid educational purpose and leads to frustration,”

APS has a one-page summary (requires Adobe) showing individuals schools making AYP.

If not for the fact that APS is the high cost provider of K-12 services in Virginia (at least in comparison to Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties), we might say the cause was that APS schools were underfunded. But when the $18,563 cost-per-student for APS is several thousand dollars more than in those other counties, that argument becomes stale. Arlington taxpayers have another example that we get ordinary services at extraordinary prices.

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