Washington MS is an amazing place in the inner city that is home to a rich cross-section of families. I have sent two children to WMS because this environment has helped them understand how to collaborate and navigate the real world. Principal Susan Follmer is in her second year of leading this school and is making impactful cultural improvements including raising the quality of teaching and the expectations of all students and faculty. This school has an award winning music program where nearly half of all students participate in a musical ensemble. The teachers are dedicated, the staff cares and the Principal has vision. WMS is not without its issues - 1150 students come with different needs and abilities - but under Principal Follmer's leadership, WMS is a great school getting better all the time.
This is no easy task in a huge middle school but the school is addressing these values in changed practices that give students more opportunities to develop their character such as leadership classes and advisory and community service.
My daughter has gone to this school for two years and at this point I'm genuinely nauseated by how horrible the school is. We are literally hanging on until the end of the year because we have no other option, but I cannot express now awful our experience has been this year.
First off, I will say we got lucky with some great teachers last year. SOME of the staff is wonderful. However, the administration is simply terrible. They hate kids, and hate parents even more. If you bring any problem to their attention, they will blame either the student or the parent and refuse to do anything to help.
But by far the worst thing about the school is the institutionalized racism. First off, just walking down the halls you see how African American boys are constantly chastised, criticized and threatened. Then there is the school "dances." These take place during the school day—and cost money.
$2 might not seem like a lot—but plenty of poor and homeless kids don't have $2. They are forced to sit in the "quiet room" while their friends go to the dance . They are not allowed leave school early unless a parent picks them up, which working parents cannot do. So, instead poorer students sit there, humiliated.
I cannot understand the monstrosity of any adult who would set up a PAID dance during school hours. Oh, and by the way—tell your kids to watch out for their cell phones. On "dance" days, kids break into lockers, trying to find things to sell to be able to afford to go to the dance.
If your son or daughter wants to be informed about institutionalized racism and classism, they won't be told that history at Washington Middle School. Instead, they will be treated to posters, slogans and coursework that tells them over and over again that "their future is their own choice!" As if circumstances play no role. They are told to sit down, shut up, & accept whatever scraps are given to them.
Oh, and the bathrooms have non-potable water running from their sinks. Yep, there's a little bit of Flint Michigan happening in this Central District school. But I suppose since it's in the inner city, no one cares. I guess the kids are supposed to be "grateful" they can wash their hands at all.
Basically, WMS is a great place to send your kid if you want them to witness the school-to-prison pipeline firsthand. Thank God we are almost out of there.