Sunday, May 25



THE CITY COUNCIL CHASTISED the Fenty administration for being slow in naming researchers to conduct a long term evaluation of the new school system, but that's the least of the problem. In fact, this is little more than a con job in which Fenty and Rhee partisans are posing as independent evaluators, paid for with private funds so Fenty doesn't have to reveal all that's going on.

WASHINGTON POST Reinoso is trying to hire Kenneth Wong, chairman of the Brown University School of Education, and Frederick Hess, director of education policy at the American Enterprise Institute. Reinoso said both have extensively studied mayoral takeover in other cities. . . In an interview, Gray said the evaluation would cost $750,000 over five years. He expressed concern that the study would be paid for by an organization called the Public Education Fund. He said the fund is run by Sara Lasner, who previously worked for Fenty. Members of the fund's board include Joel I. Klein, chancellor of the New York City public schools; and Ben Soto, who was treasurer of Fenty's mayoral campaign

DC EXAMINER One of the men tapped to independently evaluate D.C.’s public school reform has publicly praised Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s progress, raising questions about his ability to perform the watchdog role, experts said. Frederick Hess, the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, was picked this month by Mayor Adrian Fenty and Rhee to serve as one of two school-reform evaluators. They also nominated Brown University professor Kenneth Wong. The D.C. Council will vote on whether to accept the nominations. Hess wrote a newspaper opinion piece, published in September, that lauded Rhee’s reform efforts. Rhee is quoted on promoting Hess’ recent education book.

“Getting Frederick Hess to evaluate how well the mayor and Rhee’s school reform effort is going is like asking the NRA to do a study on the safety of handguns,” said Gina Arlotto, a D.C. parent who co-founded the advocacy group Save Our Schools. “I can predict with 99 percent accuracy that Rick Hess will declare the mayor’s school reform effort a resounding success.”. . .


WJLA Someone affiliated with Lincoln Congregational Temple has begun putting out traffic cones on Saturday nights to reserve parking spaces along 11th Street for parishioners. The trouble is, say neighbors, that the spaces are in-demand public parking. . . Neighbors have taken home video of the cones and reserved parking signs being put out on Saturday night, long before the church opens its doors. There are also photos detailing the lengths some house of worship, such as Lincoln Congregational Temple, go to to make sure their parishioners have an easy time finding parking. . . The residents who do remove the cones and no parking signs say they "just keep reappearing like mushrooms." The battle over parking in the neighborhood has a long history. The churches used to serve neighborhood congregants who have since relocated to the suburbs and return on Sunday mornings for services. Some say their trek to church began long before the neighborhood's new residents moved in. "We respect the persons that live in this neighborhood; we respect that they have homes here, but we worship here and we are only here on Sunday," said Shirley Clark of Mount Gilead Baptist Church.

PAT ELDER John Judge and I will be meeting with school officials concerning the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Program in the DC Public Schools. Our aim is to request an elimination of the obligatory nature of 9th grade JROTC. I have several questions I'd like to ask school officials:

There are firing ranges in a couple of the schools. Are weapons being used on school grounds?

Is there a collaborative program between DCPS and the NRA, either on or off campus?

Are practice weapons being used in the schools and if so, does this mandatory training contradict the aims of violence prevention programs in the schools?

Is there marketing to 8th graders for the JROTC Program or are 9th graders automatically placed in the program? If so, how prevalent is the practice and what are the opt-out procedures, if they exist? Are DC officials aware of any other jurisdiction in the country where JROTC is effectively mandatory?

Although all branches of the military allow JROTC instructors to teach without college degrees, school systems may request that they meet certification standards. What’s the practice in DCPS?

Does DCPS exercise curricular oversight concerning the content of JROTC materials, particularly regarding U.S. History and U.S.

WASH POST BLOG Steven J. Anderson, president of a union that represents many of the attorneys who were fired this week by interim Attorney General Peter J. Nickles, said the union plans to challenge the recommended terminations. He said he believes all of the attorneys had received "satisfactory evaluations."

"He just kind of went through the office and fired people that the supervisors didn't like," Anderson . . . "Most of them seemed to be older. . . It may be the way things are done at big law firms. I don't think it's a good way to run civil service."

MARC FISHER, WASH POST According to letters I obtained detailing the dispute, attorneys for the Nationals began peppering the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission early this year with warnings that the ballpark would not be done on time, putting the city on notice that the team wanted the big-money damages that the construction contract allowed for if the stadium came in late. . . Two weeks before the March 30 opening, exasperated attorneys for the city accused the team of "finger-pointing and windfall-seeking." Nationals attorney Irwin Raij responded that "our purpose was not to provoke a dispute," but he told the stadium's architects that "the team is concerned that in the frenzy to complete the stadium, industry standards may be disregarded and errors will be made exposing the team and its patrons to unnecessary risk.". . . Some city officials are so angry at the Lerners that they don't want to talk to the family anymore. "It just turns my stomach that they would take all the goodwill we had and risk it on petty little technicalities," says one D.C. official, who declined to be named, saying he doesn't want to become the focus of the owners' wrath.

HERE'S ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF how the Bush administration is helping its friends at the expense of the public. . . WASH POST: Metro will no longer provide shuttle bus service for Washington Redskins games, school field trips and, beginning next year, Wolf Trap performances, because of a new federal ban, General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. said . . . Under Federal Transit Administration regulations that became final May 1, public agencies cannot operate charter bus service if private companies are available to provide the service.


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