Truth-tellers, liars and equivocators

D.C. education reform: Is it all about the children?

September 27, 2010 - 06:01 AM
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When it comes to education reform in the District, presumptive D.C. mayor-elect Vince Gray and public schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee are only trying to do what’s best for the children. Or the teachers union. Or the D.C. Council. Or themselves.

But mostly the children. Or so they say.

"Yesterday's election results were devastating, devastating,” said Rhee, when asked about the Gray's victory after the Democratic primary in September (she later clarified her remarks.) ”Not for me, because I'll be fine, and not even for Fenty because he'll be fine, but devastating for the schoolchildren of Washington, D.C."

Gray, speaking during in the wake of his primary win, said: “I want to do what is best for the children of our city.”

His spokeswoman bemoaned the suffering of the children, who were probably keeping close tabs on this year’s contest, in between swapping Silly Bandz and mourning the loss of their chocolate milk.

"It is unfortunate that the children have been thrown in the middle the political fray," spokeswoman Traci Hughes said. "Chairman Gray has made it very clear from the very beginning: He will continue education reform. It's his top priority already and he will put children first.”

Now lame-duck Mayor Adrian Fenty championed Rhee on the campaign trail this year, praising her often controversial moves in the D.C. schools. Gray didn’t appear sold on the lightning rod of a chancellor, instead saying he’d wait until after the election to make a decision on whether to keep Rhee at her post.

The two didn’t seem that chummy when Gray was on the council, either, and not all those spats seemed to be entirely focused on the children. It was more about control, transparency and oversight when Gray and Rhee butted heads for years over budget issues or teacher layoffs. And wasn't it about the instructors when Gray was endorsed by the Washington Teachers Union? What about when Rhee suggested that she couldn’t work in an administration that wasn’t as supportive as Fenty’s? That was about politics. And it’s about politics now, as Gray searches for a chancellor that he can happily work with, and Rhee looks for the same in a new boss.

Here is what’s at stake right now, besides the fate of the children: the careers of hundreds of teachers, whose contract was recently ratified. Possibly money from private foundations, or federal funding that the District won with a Race to the Top grant, which carries some Rhee-related requirements. And, some have argued, the future of education reform as a whole.

These kinds of decisions can’t just be based on what is best for the children. It’s much more complicated than that.

Surely both Rhee and Gray care deeply about the fate of D.C. Public Schools students. Neither would hold his or her position if that wasn’t true. But education reform is never just all about the kids. It can’t be, really. It’s a messy process that involves so many problems — like these issues of mayoral control, power struggles, and contractual bargaining.

So while the children certainly do factor into the equation, it is probably OK to leave them out of the fight for now. To suggest that either candidate is only doing what's best for them, at this point, is just Total Malarkey.

Total Malarkey


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  1. honestpolicy honestpolicy

    honest policy

    Sep 27, 2010 - 09:41:58 AM

    ............Why, when Rhee was apprised by St. Hope employee Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez about sexual misconduct allegations against Kevin Johnson by Americorps teenage volunteers (and a seventeen year=old H.S. student), did she not contact California State authorities she was obligated to do under California law? Was this another one of those irksome laws she sees no problem in ignoring because she “knows” better?
    As COO and President, not to mention those consulting positions, was Ms. Rhee aware of the misuse of Americorps funds and volunteers as outlined in the Investigative General’s report of August 2008? As one of the top three office holders of St. Hope it seems that either Ms. Rhee was aware and therefore participated or that she was not aware and she was negligent in her duties or these positions were merely window dressing for her resume and padding for her bank account.

    Why did Ms. Rhee not only try to bring in the St. Hope
    umbrella organization to take over the operations of two DC schools, but she also insisted

    that she need not recuse herself from the process (??)

    This occurred in spite of her
    deep involvement with St. Hope
    and her knowledge of financial irregularities
    (involving the misappropriation of $400,000 in federal grants)
    and a variety of federal & state legal violations.



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  2. honestpolicy honestpolicy

    honest policy

    Sep 27, 2010 - 09:38:37 AM

    “Michelle Rhee, Kevin Johnson and St. Hope Academy (note: It’s time to RESEARCH the actual facts about unaccountable, unqualified Michelle Rhee) ……. == /> (’hush money’ alert !) Washington DC blogger ‘lodesterre’ has been reading the Inspector General’s referral to the U.S. Attorney; he/she’s been asking many good questions — some of the same ones on our mind too — such as the issue of Michelle Rhee holding “conflicting positions” at Kevin Johnson’s “St. Hope Academy” privatized charter H.S. in Sacramento. According to the IG interview with former St. Hope employee Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez, the same time Rhee was listed as a St. Hope board member, she was identified as the consultant for the New Teacher Project (which recruited teachers for St. Hope schools), the consultant for the reconstruction bridge span and the consultant for the reconstruction of the HR department. On a memo she was listed as the Chief Operating Officer for St. Hope Academy. On an organization chart she was identified as president. As lodesterre writes: …Ms. Rhee’s titles at the St. Hope Charter Academy boggle the mind. Were all the positions paid positions? How did she perform the duties of board member and Chief Operating Officer at the same time? As president, Chief Operating Officer and Board Member at the same time? as President, COO, board member and a consultant for St. Hope on three projects, at the same time? How did she act as a consultant for St. Hope on the New Teacher Project, an organization that supplies teachers to schools, and as a consultant for St. Hope’s Human Resource Department’s reconstruction? Did she suggest to the Human Resource consultant which applicants to hire? It must have sounded interesting....... (continued, next post)

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