When Government Fails, Vol. 1
Due to the massive amount of failures that government has the amazing ability to consistently make, I am calling this Volume One in a running series about specific instances in which government failed and private industry could have succeeded.
Volume One: $350 Million For A…High School?
It cost the taxpayers of Los Angeles and the State of California $350 million to build a high school in downtown L.A. Why did this school cost more than ten times the cost of an average high school? Well, for one thing, it has taken almost a decade to build because of concerns about toxic gases and because an earthquake fault was discovered beneath the site. Why did it take them nearly a half a decade of building to figure this out?
What other features does this school offer besides the possibility of kids going on a seismic roller-coaster ride?
The school resembles a college campus, with several classroom buildings surrounding a landscaped courtyard. It boasts a gym with capacity to hold 3,000, a large dance studio with cushioned maple floors, 480 underground parking spaces – and a $17 million toxic gas mitigation system that costs $250,000 a year to operate.
Did the government decide to cut its losses and leave like a private company would once they found toxic gases at the site? Nah. They decided to double the costs of building the original school just to mitigate toxic gases. Did I mention that expense will increase by a quarter of a million dollars every year?
Since none of those features are vital to a student’s education, what educational advantages does this school have?
Students at the school choose among six smaller, autonomous “learning communities” that are focused around career themes, including languages, visual arts and humanities, business and finance, computer science and leadership.
So, basically, this school has different departments that are separated into different areas. What makes this different than any modern high school that has departments for Foreign Language, Fine Arts, Social Science, Technology, and Activities?
Just exactly was the original purpose of this school?
an education showplace to relieve sorely overcrowded classrooms.
Ahh, yes. “Overcrowding.” The one phrase that teachers’ unions love to use whenever they want more money. We see how well that problem was dealt with.
So, what were the effects of this dastardly expensive “learning facility?”
The school became a symbol of bureaucratic ineptitude and wasted taxpayer money. The ensuing scandal swept a district superintendent and almost half the school board out of office.
Of course, that didn’t help the problem, because the school still got built…late and way over-budget.
What did people think of the school?
in 2003 District Attorney Steve Cooley labeled the project “a public works disaster of biblical proportions.”
You said it, Steve.
The government wasted 12 years and $350 million to build a gussied-up high school. A private school, with the same educational aims, could have been built in a quarter of the time for a tenth of the money and, with vouchers, could have been accessible to the whole community.
That’s Volume One of “When Government Fails.” Tune in for Volume Two soon.