Susan White, the San Diego Union Tribune staff writer who's been working on the series DESPERATELY SEEKING AMERICA, wrote on June 10, 2007 about a place where they've figured out how to teach high school:
"In a perfect world, the ceiling in the photo lab at Duke Ellington School of the Arts would not have collapsed between classes. And the pianos wouldn't constantly be out of tune because of the leaky roof.
"This isn't a perfect world, however, so Duke Ellington's faculty and students make do with what they've got. Talent. Passion. Resilience. Make that lots of resilience.
"In many ways, this public high school in Washington, D.C., represents everything that is good about America.
"Duke Ellington's graduation rate is 99 percent, a stellar achievement in a city where the average is 54 percent. Ninety-five percent of the students go on to college, many with full scholarships, even though more than half of them enter Duke Ellington with reading and math skills at a sixth-grade level or below.
"The school's faculty boasts seven Fulbright scholars, including talented singers and musicians who also maintain professional careers. Its alumni, including comedian Dave Chappelle and opera singer Denyce Graves, support the school personally and financially.
"But . .Duke Ellington is – quite literally – falling apart. While most of its arts programs are supported by the Ellington Fund, George Washington University and the Kennedy Center, it must rely on the District of Columbia Public Schools system for repairs and maintenance..."
Here are some statistics from the California Department of Education:
HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATES BY THE NUMBERS
99%: Duke Ellington School of the Arts
54%: District of Columbia Public Schools
82%: San Diego Unified School District