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Thursday, September 20, 2007

David Brennan Cuts Check to Elms: How does something so right feel so wrong?

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2007 at 2:59 PM

Schlitz: the official beer of ... well ... nothing, really. But the author of this blog likes to drink it sometimes, maybe.
If you read Amy Rankin's cover story about her time as a charter-school cubicle jockey ["Education at It's Worst", August 29], then you probably understand exactly how David Brennan's White Hat Management cuts crucial costs to profit off of his students' education, or lack thereof. You're also probably wondering where the hell all this money is going. You're also probably wondering which sort of implement (pint glass? bar stool?) you would employ to strike Mr. Brennan atop the head in the fortuitous event that he moseyed into your favorite watering hole. (You weren't wondering that? Try it. It's great fun). Anyway, here's one place the money is going: Our Lady of the Elms, an all-girls Catholic school in West Akron. This morning, the Elms announced that it had received a $6 million donation from Brennan and his wife, Ann -- the largest gift in the school's history. Turns out Ann is an Elms alum. So are her daughters. Her granddaughters are also currently enrolled at the school, which sends roughly 98 percent of all its students to college -- unlike Rankin's old school, OHDELA, where only 20 of 1,500 students graduated, she wrote. Elms says it will use the funds for a massive renovation, including a new theater, gym, fitness center, commons area, and parking lot. The new construction will consist of recycled materials, energy saving design, and lots of Virgin Marys. As an alum, I would never argue that the Elms doesn't deserve such generosity. For years, the school has been running on meager funds to provide girls the best education possible. Despite out-of-date science labs and ancient textbooks, Elms girls excel in all their subjects. They pass AP tests with flying colors, score above average on their SATs and ACTs, are deemed National Merit Scholars, and, in the case of me, excel in the all-but-forgotten art of drinking Schlitz. Still, one has to ponder the notion that these girls are receiving money that probably belongs to less fortunate White Hat kids. Through his donation, Brennan proves he knows the value of investing real money into education. The question is: why can't he do the same for his own schools? -- Denise Grollmus

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