This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

(sorry this is a bit off topic, but schools are infrastructure too)

I have a three month old son, and I’ve been walking him around the neighborhood near my house, looking at the beautiful old buildings that were built around 100 years ago, when my house was built. Here’s a little tour.

This is the high school he could have attended:

This is the Queen Anne High School, probably the most beautiful school I’ve seen. It’s brick and stone with intricate detailing and a 180 degree view of the city. But our underfunded or poorly run school system has decided he doesn’t need these amenities, and sold the building as condos. Instead, he may go here:

Ok, this is just a stock office photo. But I couldn’t find a photo of the Center School, the closest high school to my house. This school is located above the food court of the Seattle Center and looks like a run-down office. Upon entering you expect cubicles rather than classrooms. The Center House building it is housed in was designed as a temporary structure over 40 years ago. The lunchroom is the Seattle Center food court.

This is the middle school he could have attended:

This is the West Queen Anne Public School. It’s another beautiful brick building designed to last at least 200 years. But it was also sold as condos. Instead, he’ll probably go here:

Built in the 60’s, this cheaply constructed mess of concrete and brick facade looks run down already.

This is the elementary school he could have attended:

Not brick, but still a beautiful building. It hasn’t been sold as condos yet, but isn’t being used as the elementary school. Instead he’ll probably go here:

Ok, this one’s a bit nicer than the others. But then it’s new – we’ll see how it holds up in a hundred years or two.

Where did we go wrong? How come we used to build great monuments to our children designed to last hundreds of years and now build cheap, short term classrooms? Were previous Seattlites just much more wealthy than we are, or did our priorities change? Imagine what our schools would look like if spent our road building taxes on our children instead.

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