Progressive Review

EDUCATION NEWS ARCHIVES

2009

HOW RHEE GETS IT WRONG

Dean Shareski, Ideas & Thoughts - [Jay Matthews] article features Washington's chancellor of education, Michelle Rhee and her relentless efforts to improve schools. I admire her passion. I'm not all that impressed with her perspectives.

"'The thing that kills me about education is that it's so touchy-feely,' she tells me one afternoon in her office. . . People say, 'Well, you know, test scores don't take into account creativity and the love of learning,' she says with a drippy, grating voice, lowering her eyelids halfway. Then she snaps back to herself. 'I'm like, 'You know what? I don't give a crap.' Don't get me wrong. Creativity is good and whatever. But if the children don't know how to read, I don't care how creative you are. You're not doing your job.'". . .

I've been in a number of schools of late and seen students whose reading scores are the least of their problems. If you've been in schools lately you know what I mean. 15 year olds, living on their own, coming to school high, 1st graders so full of anger they threaten classmates lives and the list goes on. These students do not need to see their reading scores meet or exceed grade level by the end of the year, they need "touch-feely" teachers. By "touchy-feely", I mean teachers that have time, expertise and passion to help them function as human beings, never mind reading. Reading is priority number 236 in their list of needs. I spent a few hours watching these at risk students building a canoe from scratch. Students who, for a change, were attending school, interacting politely with adults, finding a purpose. No standardized test in the world could measure this. But the gains made by these students because of "touch-feely" teachers is unquestionable. These teachers deserve a raise.

I've also been in schools with students who are so far above reading level and ability that the curriculum and classroom activities are laughable. They sit in their desks and hate it when teachers ask them to consider how they learn or what they want to learn; they just want to be told what to do because they're good at it and have had years of success playing that game and are upset when a teacher wants to change the rules. They need opportunity to show their creative side. They need to be teaching others. They might ace a standardized test and the teacher might be seen as successful. I'm not sure the teachers or students have done anything worthwhile.

These two diverse groups of students are the reason standardized tests and Rhee-like one-size-fits-all education isn't valuable. . .

Every education system on earth has the same hierarchy of subjects. Every one, doesn't matter where you go, you'd think it would be otherwise but it isn't. At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and the bottom are the arts. Everywhere on earth.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: CHERRY PICKING AND ROTTEN APPLE DUMPING

Crystal Sylvia, Concerned 4 DCPS - The problem with charter schools "counseling out" families or informing parents they can't meet the needs of a particular child is twofold. First, there is the issue of charter schools getting the money for students and then keeping those funds once the child leaves. The charter schools get to use the money to support the remaining students but the public schools have to support the incoming students with no additional funding. And since a lot of these kids come with some type of challenge or need, the effects on the public schools are even more burdensome.

The second concern is that since charter schools are able to do this they can essentially "cherry pick" students while claiming to accept all students. This of course helps with behavior and discipline issues as well as with test scores. Now I know charter schools are not doing this all of the time but it is happening enough to be a significant problem. Last year in April my school received 5 students from charter schools in just one week before DC CAS testing. The children strained an already skeletal staff.

So while charter school supporters can exaggerate success stories, in the end charter schools are not solving the fundamental problems in public education in DC. I know there are parents who are very happy with the charter schools their children are attending so I am not saying all charter schools are bad. But it I think at some point there needs to be an honest assessment followed by changes in the regulations to address these issue and stop charter schools from cherry picking students.

2008

BRITISH STUDY SUGGESTS FENTY & RHEE MAY BE DUMBING DOWN STUDENTS

Laura Clark, Daily Mail UK - Bright teenagers are a disappearing breed, an alarming new study has revealed. The intellectual ability of the country's cleverest youngsters has declined radically, almost certainly due to the rise of TV and computer games and over-testing in schools. The 'high-level thinking' skills of 14-year-olds are now on a par with those of 12-year-olds in 1976. The findings contradict national results which have shown a growth in top grades in SATs at 14, GCSEs and A-levels.

The intelligence of Britain's youth is being dumbed down, which experts say is down to television and video games. Posed by model. But Michael Shayer, the professor of applied psychology who led the study, believes that is the result of exam standards 'edging down'.

His team of researchers at London's King's College tested 800 13 and 14-year-olds and compared the results with a similar exercise in 1976.

The tests were intended to measure understanding of abstract scientific concepts such as volume, density, quantity and weight, which set pupils up for success not only in maths and science but also in English and history.

One test asked pupils to study a pendulum swinging on a string and investigate the factors that cause it to change speed. A second involved weights on a beam.

In the pendulum test, average achievement was much the same as in 1976.

But the proportion of teenagers reaching top grades, demanding a 'higher level of thinking', slumped dramatically.

Just over one in ten were at that level, down from one in four in 1976.

In the second test, assessing mathematical thinking skills, just one in 20 pupils were achieving the high grades - down from one in five in 1976.

Professor Shayer said: 'The pendulum test does not require any knowledge of science at all. 'It looks at how people can deal with complex information and sort it out for themselves.'

He believes most of the downturn has occurred over the last ten to 15 years.

It may have been hastened by the introduction of national curriculum testing and accompanying targets, which have cut the time available for teaching which develops more advanced skills.

Critics say schools concentrate instead on drilling children for the tests.

'The moment you introduce targets, people will find the most economical strategies to achieve them,' said Professor Shayer.

A study found the high-level thinking skills of 14-year-olds are now on par with a 12-year-old in 1976. . .

Professor Shayer believes the decline in brainpower is also linked to changes in children's leisure activities.

The advent of multi-channel TV has encouraged passive viewing while computer games, particularly for boys, are feared to have supplanted time spent playing with tools, gadgets and other mechanisms. . .

Previous research by Professor Shayer has shown that 11-year-olds' grasp of concepts such as volume, density, quantity and weight appears to have declined over the last 30 years.

Their mental abilities were up to three years behind youngsters tested in in 1975.

His latest findings, due to appear in the British Journal of Educational Psychology, come in the wake of a report by Dr Aric Sigman which linked the decline in intellectual ability to a shift away from art and craft skills in both schools and the home.

Dr Sigman said practical activities such as building models and sandcastles, making dens, using tools, playing with building blocks, knitting, sewing and woodwork were being neglected.
Yet they helped develop vital skills such as understanding dimension, volume and density.

Last month an Ofsted report said millions of teenagers were finishing compulsory education with a weak grasp of maths because half of the country's schools fail to teach the subject as well as they could. Inspectors said teachers were increasingly drilling pupils to pass exams instead of encouraging them to understand crucial concepts.

A FEW QUESTIONS ABOUT CHARTER SCHOOLS

Sam Smith

If charter schools are so great, why isn't the DC school system modeled on their decentralized pattern?

Why aren't more individual DC public schools using the charter school model?

If charter schools are so great, doesn't that mean the ideas of Fenty and Rhee aren't that great?

Isn't the fact that parents get to choose whether they want to send their kids to charter school a de facto form of tracking, which is to say favoring children of parents with determination and sense of direction?

Imagine a child whose parents are employed and ambitious and a child whose single parent is a apathetic drug addict. Which child will likely end up in a charter school?

A certain number of students drop out, or are pushed out, of charter schools during a school year. The budget, however, doesn't go with them as they return to public schools. How much does this cost the public school system and how much does it rig the results in favor the charter schools?

How many students apply to charter schools but are rejected on some grounds? How many are quietly discouraged from attending for one reason or another?

8th grade math and reading scores declined for DC public schools between 2005 and 2007 while charter school scores improved. How much of this is due to the charter schools being better and how much to them having siphoned off better students from the public schools?

Some feel the charter school movement is driven by anti-union sentiment. If this is not true, are there any charter schools in DC that would accept a union agreement with their teachers?

RHEE THINKS REPUBLICANS ARE BETTER THAN DEMOCRATS

DC Wire, Washington Post - She's said it before, but Michelle Rhee keeps hammering away at the Democratic Party for being weak on education accountability and reform. Last night, Rhee appeared before the Ward 4 Democrats at Emery Recreation Center and explained that she appeared on an education panel discussion in Denver during the Democratic National Convention to "make a statement to the Democratic Party" about why it needs to get tougher on unions and other "political interests." Rhee stressed that she has been a lifelong Democrat, but then she lit into the Party. "Republicans are much better at education policy than Democrats," she said. "Democrats are soft on accountability and they're anti-NCLB [No Child Left Behind], they don't want to test anyone. This attitude in my mind does nothing for the neediest students who need help the most." To Rhee, Democratic leaders pander to unions and other interest groups who are "driving the agenda on school reform. Everyone thinks Republicans are for the rich, white oil guys to whom they give tax breaks and Democrats are for kids and the underclass. I don't think the Democratic Party operates that way. So we were there [in Denver] speaking out and pushing the Party to move in a different direction."

TEACHING OUR CHILDREN TO BE DYSFUNCTIONAL

WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL Rhee wants nonprofits to take over a dozen of the city's most failing high schools. A new tax-exempt group, formed by former Fenty bullpen official Sarah Lasner, will receive donations from businesses eager to contribute to school reform. And Rhee wants businesses to pony up their human capital by adopting schools and helping students on Saturdays and in summer school with legions of off-hours tutors and mentors.

Many in the business community wonder why it has taken her so long to ask for their help. Foundations and corporations have complained for months that they can't get meetings with Rhee. In a meeting with members of The Philanthropy Roundtable on April 1, she repeated Fenty's blunt request that they contribute $75 million every year for the next five years - while adding that most of the money would probably go toward teachers' salary incentives. Some business leaders at the meeting bristled: Why should they be asked to pitch in for overhead when the system was wasting so much money? Shouldn't they be contributing like businesses usually do: building playgrounds, buying computers and painting hallways on the weekends?. . .

Rhee explains her approach to business and nonprofit involvement in D.C. schools. Her bottom line: If you're a business and you want to contribute, you will do what the school system needs, not necessarily what you want to do. And however you contribute, your business's role will be evaluated by a single criteria: Did it lead to an improvement in students' standardized test scores

CITY DESK - Rhee's approach to education is deeply anti-educational. To use standardized tests as the sole criteria of someone's achievement ignores matters such as wisdom, judgment, social factors and morality. If you educate kids in such a manner you basically end up with adults - not unlike Rhee and Fenty - able to absorb a large amount of data but often incapable of using it sensibly in a social situation. There is a name for this; it's called Asperger's Syndrome. The last thing we want to do is to train our children to be as socially dysfunctional as some of our leaders.

Let's say we have a standardized test on the city budget. Rhee and Fenty would probably pass it with flying colors. Now let's ask a different sort of question: given the data, what is the best amount of money we should spend on education as opposed to locking up minor drug offenders a thousand miles from home? There's no way you can standardize the answer because it is ultimately a matter of wisdom and morality.

Now let's ask another question. If we are spending too much on prisons, how do we convince people to do otherwise? Again, there is no way to standardize the answers.

Yet the success of our society is based on education young people to be able to answer such questions and thousands of others that won't fit in the blank on the test sheet.

There is nothing wrong with tests when they are used with the sort of wisdom, judgment and conscience that standardized tests can't teach you. If we want our children to have the latter traits, then we must educate them and not reduce learning to the primitive logic of slot machine.

RHEE-ALITY CHECK

CANDI PETERSON On Saturday, May 3, Mr. Jesus Aguirre from the Office of the Chancellor told some local DC public school restructuring teams in a citywide meeting that DCPS elementary school counselor positions will not be funded in DCPS elementary schools that do not have a minimum of six hundred students. . .

As if this weren't enough, DCPS literacy and math coach teachers were advised last Friday that they too will have to reapply for their newly reclassified jobs under new position titles, Literacy Professional Developer and Mathematics Professional Developer, at the DCPS teacher transfer fair next Saturday. . .

Like their mentor, Chancellor Joel Klein of New York public schools, it appears that Mayor Fenty and Chancellor Rhee believe that the way to reform public education is by firing the bottom half of public school employees. As Randi Weingarten, President of United Federation of Teachers, reported about Chancellor Joel Klein's similar tactics, "And if you can't fire them, make their lives miserable." Instead of proposing creative solutions that would reform our public schools, Chancellor Rhee and Mayor Fenty continue down their path of destruction of our educational landscape which is counterproductive, destroys employee morale, wastes valuable talent, tarnishes future teacher recruitment efforts, and lacks a long-term educational strategic plan. After all, what competent, certified and experienced employees will be attracted to work in a system that regularly devalues and disrespects teachers, and fails to retain their existing pool of talented and certified educators?

RHEE BUDDY UPDATE

SACRAMENTO BEE Saturday's Sacramento mayoral debate trotted along cordially enough until the very end, when the hopefuls were asked what question they'd pose to the two candidates who didn't show up. The focus inside the downtown Sacramento debate hall immediately shifted to an empty brown leather chair at the end of the dais.

Kevin Johnson, the former-NBA-star-turned-Oak Park-developer-turned-mayoral-candidate, declined an invitation to the event, the campaign's first televised forum. (Long-shot insurance broker Richard Jones also was a no-show.)

"Whose side is he on?" asked candidate Muriel Strand, referring to Johnson.

"Why isn't he willing to talk to the people?" chimed in incumbent mayor Heather Fargo.

"I don't care if he's out raising more money or at a college reunion …," said bounty hunter Leonard Padilla from underneath his trademark cowboy hat. "You show up."

Johnson instead spent Saturday in Washington, D.C., laying out his case for opening a St. HOPE charter school in the nation's capital. He passed on last week's debate at Fremont Presbyterian Church, too, and has pulled out of three other debates at the last moment.

Christy Setzer, a Johnson spokeswoman, issued a brief statement saying Johnson has "found that the most meaningful interactions happen through a two-way conversation with residents." She said Johnson's campaign team has spread his message by knocking on the doors of 10,000 voters and calling another 20,000.

Just short of 84,000 city residents voted in the 2004 mayoral election.. . .

Padilla deemed the transfer of Sacramento High into a charter high school run by Johnson's St. HOPE "a horrendous mistake," especially in light of allegations that Johnson inappropriately touched a student. Sacramento police investigated and found no basis for the allegations.

Padilla called upon City Councilman Rob Fong - a St. HOPE supporter when he served on the Sacramento City Unified school board - to lead a blue-ribbon panel dedicated to revoking the school's charter. "Obviously, something has been wrong (at Sac High) for a very long time," Padilla said.

RECOVERED HISTORY

JENNIFER MEDINA, NY TIMES, NOV 2007 - New York City's eighth graders have made no significant progress in reading and math since Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took control of the city schools, according to federal test scores released yesterday, in contrast with the largely steady gains that have been recorded on state tests. The national scores also showed little narrowing of the achievement gap between white students and their black and Hispanic counterparts.

The results for New York and 10 other large urban districts on the federal tests, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, paint a generally stagnant picture for the city, although there are gains in fourth-grade math. On measure after measure, the scores showed "no significant change" between 2005, when the test was previously administered, and 2007. . .

New York City's federal scores showed that while fourth-grade reading results have improved over the past five years, the most significant jump came in 2002, before Mr. Bloomberg took control. . .

In contrast with New York City, federal scores in Atlanta and Washington [before the Fenty coup - Ed] rose significantly across all grade levels and subjects since 2005.

LAUREL ROSENHALL, SACRAMENTO BEE, NOV 12, 2007 - The Sacramento City Unified school board is reviewing one of its most politically charged decisions: whether it made the right call in 2003 in giving the city's namesake high school to a nonprofit group run by a retired basketball star.

Kevin Johnson's St. HOPE Corp. has asked permission to run Sacramento High as a charter school for another five years. The board will decide by the end of December whether to renew the charter, which allows St. HOPE to run the school free from many of the regulations governing traditional public schools.

The charter school's success has become a matter of great debate. Some of the teachers who bought into Johnson's vision of giving disadvantaged kids a private school-style education for free left after a couple of years. They say St. HOPE hasn't lived up to its promise.

Some students who tried the school have pulled out, and Sacramento Charter High School has not attracted the nearly 2,000 students it was intended to serve. But the roughly 1,100 students there now say it's a place where they feel safe, cared for and academically challenged. . .

Over the past four years, as the portion of Sac High graduates going to college has gone up, SAT scores have gone down. On California's standardized tests, Sacramento High students are improving, but so are all students in the state. So even though the percentage of kids proficient in math and English has risen, Sacramento High scores remain in the bottom 20 percent statewide the same ranking the school has had since 2002, when it still was run by Sacramento City Unified.

When Sacramento High reopened in the fall of 2003 as an independent charter school, St. HOPE made many changes intended to improve that shoddy performance. It made the school day longer, hired nonunion teachers who were available to students around the clock, and paid for kids to go on college tours. . .

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given Sac High more than $4 million. While test scores aren't where the foundation would like them to be, spokeswoman Carol Rava Treat said, "we feel confident in their commitment" to getting disadvantaged kids into college. . .

Among Sac High's class of 2007 the first to graduate under four years of St. HOPE leadership the school reported that 70 percent of graduates went on to a four-year college. But a closer look shows that the class of 2007 which started with 505 freshmen, according to state data shrank by 48 percent over four years. Only 262 graduated. . .

Critics say St. HOPE allows only well-behaved students to stay at the charter school, leaving problem kids to fill Sacramento's neighborhood schools.

And some teachers who joined Sac High when it became a charter school have left disillusioned and bitter. They thought they were signing up for a revolution in public education, several former teachers said. Instead they found erratic leadership, classrooms without enough desks or books, and frequent 12-hour work days.

"It was intensely mismanaged from Day One," said Barbara Modlin, who quit after 2 1/2 years teaching English. "I felt like the doors were opened and the teachers were pushed (into the classroom) and the doors were closed. We were given no support."

When enrollment dropped, former teachers said, St. HOPE asked teachers to recruit middle-schoolers as they walked home from school.

"It was demeaning. I'm a professional educator and I'm supposed to stand on a street corner and recruit kids?" said Mara Harvey, who taught history at the charter school for two years.

NO HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PLAYER LEFT BEHIND

All teams must make the state playoffs and all must win the championship.

If a team does not win the championship, it will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable. If after two years they have not won the championship their basketballs and equipment will be taken away until they do win the championship.

All players will be expected to have the same basketball skills at the same time, even if they do not have the same conditions or opportunities to practice on their own. No exceptions will be made for lack of interest in basketball, a desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities of themselves or their parents.

All students will play basketball at a proficient level

Talented players will be asked to workout on their own, without instruction. This is because the coaches will be using all their instructional time with the athletes who aren't interested in basketball, have limited athletic ability or whose parents don't like basketball.

Games will be played year round, but statistics will only be kept in the 4th, 8th, and 11th games.

If parents do not like this new law, they are encouraged to vote for vouchers and support private schools that can screen out the non-athletes and prevent their children from having to go to school with bad basketball players.

- Author unknown

RHEE BACKS RIGHTWING ATTACK ON PUBLIC EDUCATION

LOOSE LIPS, CITY PAPER Mayor Adrian M. Fenty might be a Barack Obama supporter, but his hand-picked education czar is opting for a different approach, at least when it comes to improving schools. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, in comments at a gathering of the Korean-American Coalition's D.C. chapter, endorsed the education plan of Arizona Republican John McCain "far and away" over those of either Obama or Hillary Clinton.

Rhee, in a speech at Tony Cheng's Restaurant in Chinatown, referred to herself as a "card-carrying Democrat" (LL forgot to ask to see the card), yet endorsed McCain's approach based on his willingness to reauthorize the controversial "No Child Left Behind" legislation. Both Clinton and Obama have been highly critical of the law and its effects. "I think they're pandering, quite frankly, to the teachers' unions and other folks," she said.

In comments after the speech, Rhee . . . called herself as a "huge proponent" of the federal law and said she was "incredibly disappointed" with the lack of Democratic support . . . though she did say she had a "laundry list" of things she would change with the statute.


RHEE ADMITS SHE'S OUT TO KILL THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM

Harry Jaffe in the DC Examiner reports this exchange between David Catania and Michelle Rhee during a recent city council hearing:

Catania, one of Rhee's best buddies on the legislature, suggested the Council put a cap on charter schools, the better to stem the tide of these fast-multiplying schools that are independent of the school bureaucracy yet rely on public funds.

Catania was expecting Rhee to take the path of least resistance and thank him for saving her public schools from competition. But Rhee doesn't walk in the same worn-out shoes of her predecessors.

No thanks, Rhee responded. This is about educating children rather than dividing up turf.

"The problem is not capping charter schools," she told me, "it's about asking how do we make sure we get as many kids into great charter schools as possible.

"I would fight to the death for a real good charter school," she says.

Have no doubt about it. Fenty and Rhee are out to kill public education and replace it with charter schools run by educational mercenaries. There is no proof that this is educationally preferable and there is clear evidence that the public will lose control over education at every level. The school board has already been emasculated and every public school replaced by a charter is one more central piece of a functioning community destroyed.

MEET ONE OF THE SAVIORS OF THE DC PUBLIC SCHOOLS

St HOPE is one of private companies Michelle Rhee wants to have take over some DC pubic schools. She was formerly on the board of St HOPE

SACRAMENTO BEE After a Sacramento High School teacher's report last year that a 17-year-old student told him she was inappropriately touched by Kevin Johnson, Johnson's personal attorney and business partner investigated the complaint for the campus.

State law requires that authorities be notified immediately when school officials learn of such an allegation. But - before police were called in by the teacher - Johnson's attorney, Kevin Hiestand, questioned the girl during an internal investigation, according to interviews and e-mails obtained by The Bee.

Following the school's internal investigation, the student recanted. Sacramento police investigators, who never interviewed Johnson, later found "no merit" to the allegation and declined to pursue the case in part because the girl recanted.

At the time of the April 2007 allegation, former NBA star Johnson served as a teacher, interim principal and head of St. HOPE Public Schools, which oversees the Sac High charter school. Currently, he is challenging Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo in the June election.

Erik Jones, the teacher who made the report to police, resigned over the way the matter was handled by the school.

"St. HOPE sought to intimidate the student through an illegal interrogation and even had the audacity to ask me to change my story," Jones wrote in his May 15 resignation letter.

In response to a detailed summary of issues raised by this article, the Johnson campaign released a one-paragraph statement late Wednesday:

"St. HOPE takes any claim of harassment seriously, particularly in the case of a minor. In this case, St. HOPE acted swiftly to follow its federally mandated requirement to investigate. An impartial three-person panel found that the allegation was unfounded, a finding that was later confirmed by law enforcement. We consider the matter closed given the findings of law enforcement and out of respect for the minor involved."

When a Bee reporter asked about the matter at a Sacramento Press Club lunch Thursday, Johnson responded briefly.

"I think the allegations at the school were handled in the way that you would want them handled," he said. "Immediately they followed all the normal protocols that they were supposed to follow . . . I think it was pretty clear there was nothing there.". . .

Police Chief Rick Braziel said that the police report confirms that the attorney had contacted the girl before they got involved. "We knew there was an internal investigation done before the date we were notified," Braziel said. "We did ask the young lady whether anyone had influenced her - her answer was no."

Jones, who heard the girl's original account, and a classmate who also was there, told The Bee that Hiestand suggested they alter their versions of what they heard. Both said they refused.

The classmate, Dora Bromme, said Hiestand pulled her out of class and told her the girl making the allegation had recanted. In an interview, Bromme told The Bee that Hiestand said he was from "human resources" but did not identify himself as a lawyer.

She said Hiestand told her that the student "told us that (Johnson) just kissed her on the forehead and gave her a pat on the shoulder and left."

"I said to him 'I can tell you for a fact that's not what she said,'" Bromme said. "He was changing around the story."

St. HOPE classifies the incident as "harassment," and Hiestand said he participated as the school's federal Title IX officer. Police, however, investigated it as a child sexual abuse case because the minor alleged Johnson had touched her breasts.

"Our investigation found the allegations were rumor and innuendo, and not based on any evidence," Hiestand wrote in his Thursday e-mail response. . .

Diane Karpman, a Los Angeles-based expert in legal ethics, said cases like the Sac High situation raise several questions, including the importance for lawyers to disclose dual roles and receive a formal waiver from the school board.

St. HOPE board minutes for the past year show no request for a waiver. The board is appointed by Johnson and he served as its chairman until January.

Hiestand said he disclosed that he was Johnson's private attorney and had been retained to represent St. HOPE to "every party involved in the investigation, including the student and her guardian."

Hiestand is a vice president of Johnson's private development company, Kynship, according to state incorporation papers. His relationship to Johnson is "personal and legal counsel," a federal document states. And he receives a monthly retainer of $2,800 from St. HOPE Public Schools for his legal services. . .

When Johnson played point guard for the Phoenix Suns, Hiestand was his spokesman. In 1995, Hiestand also got involved in a Phoenix police investigation into a 16-year-old's allegation that Johnson molested her. In a conversation taped by police, Hiestand called the girl's therapist and questioned her about her client's story. Phoenix police referred that case to the District Attorney's Office, but no charges were filed. . .

In a recent interview, Jones gave a detailed account of events he said led up to his resignation. He said the girl's initial comments came during a senior class retreat in Yosemite.

As the group prepared breakfast on April 23, Jones said, the girl confided to him, counselor Jill Tabachnick and two classmates that Johnson had touched her inappropriately on several occasions.

The classmates, Dora Bromme and Lisa Wood, corroborated Jones' account. When contacted by The Bee, Tabachnick - who was laid off from Sacramento High at the end of the school year - confirmed she heard the girl's allegations and she confirmed Jones' account of the school's handling of the situation.

Jones said the girl demonstrated to the Yosemite group how Johnson massaged her shoulders from behind as she sat at a computer at the school, and how his hands dipped down to her breasts.

"The situation grossed me out and that was not the first time," Jones quoted her as saying in his report to police.

"(Johnson) has also done this to other girls in the class," Jones' child-abuse report quoted her as adding. "And with one of the Hood Corps students he tried to crawl into her bed. And that is why she quit Hood Corps."

Hood Corps, another arm of St. HOPE, is a nonprofit organization based on an urban Peace Corps model that enlists high school students and recent graduates. The girl who spoke up in Yosemite also was a part-time Hood Corps volunteer.

Under federal AmeriCorps provisions, St. HOPE was required to report both allegations immediately, according to Marta Bortner, a spokeswoman for California Volunteers, the state office that channeled AmeriCorps grants to Johnson's Hood Corps. That never happened, she said.

After being shown Jones' child abuse report, California Volunteers on Tuesday turned the matter over to the inspector general for one of its umbrella organizations, the Corporation for National and Community Service. . .

Jones said the Sac High student was worried about telling people about Johnson because "he is a family friend, but I feel creeped out when he does this."

The girl's mother, asked to comment last week, said only "nothing happened" and hung up. The girl didn't respond to requests for comment. . .

Detectives also said they did not pursue the information Jones passed on about the young woman who left Hood Corps. They gave two reasons: She was not a juvenile and the allegation that Johnson tried to get into her bed "doesn't indicate conduct of a criminal nature."

SACRAMENTO BEE - Kevin Johnson's St. HOPE nonprofit is under investigation by the federal government for allegations including misuse of federal funds and Johnson's sexual misconduct toward two participants in its Hood Corps, an urban Peace Corps-type program, according to a government attorney.

Dan McGuire, legal affairs secretary for the Governor's Office -- which manages all the state's AmeriCorps programs -- said Friday morning that the probe was launched after The Bee raised questions about Hood Corps. These questions included the failure to report the sexual allegations related to a student and a teenage volunteer, the program's religious and physical aspects, and the types of work volunteers were doing.

"We were quite alarmed," McGuire said. "We called the inspector general and started the process."

McGuire said further details, including financial issues, should come from the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the inspector general.

RHEE PLANS TO USE EDUCATIONAL MERCENARIES

JUST LIKE BUSH with Blackwater, if you can't fight the fight yourself, you go out an hire some mercenaries. The beauty of this approach: fewer questions to answer from parents, nosy council members and the media not to mention getting rid of the conveniently purported root cause of all educational failure: the teachers union.

There are a few problems, however. For example, public education in DC is becoming less public by the day. The vital connection between community - its values, concerns and needs - and education are smashed. And, most of all, no one really knows what the hell is going on until it's far too late.

A good clue to the fundamental dishonesty of the Fenty-Rhee approach is in the language being used. Those using misleading euphemisms are not to be trusted.

Dion Haines of the Post got it down well:

As a public service, D.C. Wire is offering a handy-dandy translation to the growing list of catchy sounding phrases and concepts:

- The six nonprofits are "partners." That sounds much better than "contractors," which in the District has a nasty connotation associated with corruption, overbilling and favoritism.

- The nonprofits would be hired to help the 10 "partner schools," which is kinder than referring to them as "10 high schools that failed to meet academic targets under the No Child Left Behind law for five consecutive years because of low-performing students."

- Partnership Schools join the newly launched "Teacher Transition Program." Under that initiative, Rhee is offering "awards" - translation buyouts - ranging from $1,000 to $20,000 for up to 700 teachers at the 10 high schools and 17 other failing elementary and middle schools. To receive the "awards," the teachers will have to "transition" out of their jobs - in other words, quit.

- Before that, we learned of the central office "separations." That's when Rhee fired nearly 100 workers in the administration building at 825 North Capitol St. NE.

- And before that, Rhee unveiled the "Reorganization and Rightsizing" program, with the alliterative slogan: "Renew, Revitalize and Reorganize!" For parents at 23 low-enrolled schools throughout the city, that meant, "We want to displace your children by closing their buildings and sending them elsewhere to learn." Hey, it's all about marketing.

Another clue: a near total absence of news of anything substantively good happening in the DC school system. Reorganization doesn't count; that's not education. And it's usually not good government. Good education is about good places where good teachers can do good things. It doesn't happen where good places are being closed and good teachers have to lie awake wondering if they're going to be be the next victim of a miserly "transition award."

So what arguments are there for turning over public schools to mercenaries? Well, one might be that the contractors do a better job of it. So let's take a look at Friendship, which is already running some schools in DC. The record according to a study by a school activist: 3 of the 5 campuses failed to meet annual yearly perforamance requirements in both reading and math. One of their campuses met AYP in reading and not math. Only one campus met AYP for both math and reading.

GINA ARLOTTO, CONCERNED 4 DCPS - And if after a few years, those contractors don't work, Rhee will just say oh well and write another contract for somebody else. . . It really saddens me that the leader of our school system has a vision that is to find somebody else's vision for our children and our schools. I also take exception to the term "non-profit" for many of these companies, as we know that Friendship pays Donald Hense $265,000 to run five schools with 4000 kids total. Friendship then pays out over $5 million to Edison for their supposed "great ideas" for education. And are we really going to change our curriculum again? My kids have whiplash from the curriculum changes every other year. Good grief! Pick one curriculum and stay with it-as in so many things in parenting, consistency is key.

WASH POST D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) said that he and Rhee played phone tag yesterday and that he did not know why she was calling. "I couldn't tell you who the nonprofits were if you gave me a million dollars," Gray said. "I know we're in the restructuring mode, but I don't have any details. I really don't know too much about it." The 10 high schools, which enroll 8,148 students, are: Anacostia, Ballou, Cardozo, Coolidge, Dunbar, Eastern, Roosevelt, Spingarn, Wilson and Woodson. The seven other high schools in the District are not on that list.

WASH POST Nathan Saunders, the [teachers] union's general vice president, and Candi Peterson, a member of its board of trustees, said they have heard from numerous teachers who are angry about the buyout. The teachers, they said, are upset that Rhee dropped an initial proposal to offer an "early out" program to teachers nearing retirement, replacing it with a buyout program that applies to teachers across the board at the 50 schools. . .

"They need to know they have jobs. There's no need to be forced out, unless they want to leave," said Peterson, a special education social worker who works at four schools. . . "No credible school system would encourage young and mid-level teachers to resign," she said. . . "Most teachers in the restructured and closed schools are certified. . . . Rhee will probably hire teachers who are not certified."

Kerry Sylvia has taught government for eight years at Cardozo High in Northwest, one of 27 schools to be reorganized because it failed to meet adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind law for five consecutive years. Sylvia, who won an educator of the year award for her work in teaching students street law, said she is reluctantly considering the buyout because she feels "highly insulted" by the school system.
Rhee's message in offering the buyout, Sylvia said, is, "We don't care how good of a teacher you are, we just want you out of here." That, Sylvia said, "infers that teachers are the problem." The buyout "is tempting," she added. "I'm working in a system that's not putting children first."

DC EXAMINER D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee has decided the schools need a chief operating officer, a highly paid post developed in consultation with a powerful and controversial group of business leaders. The new job opening is being advertised on DHR, a search Web site for business executives. According to the ad, the base salary will be between $175,000 and $200,000, putting the COO among the top D.C. government earners. The person selected will be responsible for all nonacademic pursuits and will report directly to Rhee.

One thing that stands out about the job is who's advertising for it. The creator of the job announcement document is identified in Microsoft Word as Terrence Golden, a board member of the Federal City Council, a group of powerful executives that has had a reputation as a puppeteer for D.C. government decisions.

"The whole notion that people get about Federal City Council is that their fingerprints secretly get all over everything. They're privy to information even prior to the [D.C.] Council, which raises all kinds of alarms," said Iris Toyer of Parents United. "Sure, you want your business community involved in the schools and the city, but do I want them more involved than elected officials?"

ANDREA ROSEN - More than a misnomer, calling a buyout an "award" seems like the kind of double-talk George Orwell made central to his dystopic novels "Animal Farm" and "1984." Subtly altering the language used to describe what is going on in schools and to advance the Fenty - Rhee - Rienoso agenda seems to be a hallmark of the current DCPS administration. . . My experience as the parent of a (now-graduated) DCPS student is that there are plenty of teachers in DCPS who have worked as hard as any captain of industry (and for wages akin to the crumbs on said CEO's table) under conditions and in buildings that should make Fenty - Rhee - Rienoso - Hobson beg these teachers' pardon and then beg them to stay. It makes me ill to think that these experienced, self-sacrificing educators may well be the adults who decide they can and must do better in a creditable school system.

BRIAN GILL, RAND - Since 2002, Philadelphia has been the site of the nation's largest experiment in the state takeover and private management of public schools. As such, the city serves as a test case for some of the most aggressive interventions sanctioned by the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and offers lessons for schools and districts nationwide.

Soon after Pennsylvania took over the Philadelphia school district, the district adopted a "diverse provider" model, handing over management of 45 of its lowest-achieving schools to for-profit organizations, nonprofit organizations, and local universities. The aim was to capitalize on the know-how of the private sector to improve the performance of public schools. The district also gave the private managers extra funding per student. The aim was to capitalize on the know-how of the private sector.

Four years later, student achievement across Philadelphia has risen substantially. On average, the schools under private management have matched but not exceeded the district-wide trends. In contrast, a set of district-managed schools that were given both additional funding and a "restructuring" intervention showed consistently and significantly larger achievement gains in math.

The Philadelphia model diverged from theoretical models of competition in important ways. There was little competition among providers, no parental choice of schools, and continued district involvement in the privately managed schools. . .

From the 2001-2002 school year to the 2005-2006 school year, an additional 11 percent and 23 percent of fifth graders reached proficiency in reading and math, respectively. Likewise, an additional 20 percent and 19 percent of eighth-graders reached proficiency in reading and math, respectively. Philadelphia's achievement gains were in most cases approximately equivalent to the gains of similarly low-achieving schools elsewhere in the state.

We then compared the trends in the privately managed and restructured schools with the trends of other Philadelphia students. Our major findings are as follows:

- Privately managed schools: There were no statistically significant effects, positive or negative, in reading or math in any of the four years after takeover.

- Restructured schools: There were significantly positive effects in math in all three years of implementation and in reading in the first year. In the fourth year, after the additional resources for these schools had ceased, they maintained a substantially positive effect in math (although the effect was just marginally statistically significant).

In short, after four years of intervention, the achievement gains in Philadelphia's privately managed schools were, on average, no different from Philadelphia's district-wide gains. However, the restructured schools remaining under district management outgained the rest of the district in math in all three years of restructuring, with evidence of the gain persisting a year afterward. . .

While the private managers' contracts are now coming up for renewal, we do not find evidence that would support providing the private managers with additional funding beyond that available to district-managed schools. Nonetheless, average results obscure considerable variation across schools and managers, and we hope that the school district carefully considers the success of each school and each provider as it considers contract renewals. . .

ROSENHALL, SACRAMENTO BEE, NOV 12 [2007] - The Sacramento City Unified school board is reviewing one of its most politically charged decisions: whether it made the right call in 2003 in giving the city's namesake high school to a nonprofit group run by a retired basketball star.

Kevin Johnson's St. HOPE Corp. has asked permission to run Sacramento High as a charter school for another five years. The board will decide by the end of December whether to renew the charter, which allows St. HOPE to run the school free from many of the regulations governing traditional public schools.

The charter school's success has become a matter of great debate. Some of the teachers who bought into Johnson's vision of giving disadvantaged kids a private school-style education for free left after a couple of years. They say St. HOPE hasn't lived up to its promise.

Some students who tried the school have pulled out, and Sacramento Charter High School has not attracted the nearly 2,000 students it was intended to serve.

But the roughly 1,100 students there now say it's a place where they feel safe, cared for and academically challenged. . .

On California's standardized tests, Sacramento High students are improving, but so are all students in the state. So even though the percentage of kids proficient in math and English has risen, Sacramento High scores remain in the bottom 20 percent statewide, the same ranking the school has had since 2002, when it still was run by Sacramento City Unified.

When Sacramento High reopened in the fall of 2003 as an independent charter school, St. HOPE made many changes intended to improve that shoddy performance. It made the school day longer, hired nonunion teachers who were available to students around the clock, and paid for kids to go on college tours.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given Sac High more than $4 million. While test scores aren't where the foundation would like them to be, spokeswoman Carol Rava Treat said, "we feel confident in their commitment" to getting disadvantaged kids into college. . .

Among Sac High's class of 2007 - the first to graduate under four years of St. HOPE leadership - the school reported that 70 percent of graduates went on to a four-year college. But a closer look shows that the class of 2007 - which started with 505 freshmen, according to state data - shrank by 48 percent over four years. Only 262 graduated.

Critics say St. HOPE allows only well-behaved students to stay at the charter school, leaving problem kids to fill Sacramento's neighborhood schools.

And some teachers who joined Sac High when it became a charter school have left disillusioned and bitter. They thought they were signing up for a revolution in public education, several former teachers said. Instead they found erratic leadership, classrooms without enough desks or books, and frequent 12-hour work days.

"It was intensely mismanaged from Day One," said Barbara Modlin, who quit after 2 1/2 years teaching English. "I felt like the doors were opened and the teachers were pushed (into the classroom) and the doors were closed. We were given no support."

When enrollment dropped, former teachers said, St. HOPE asked teachers to recruit middle-schoolers as they walked home from school.

"It was demeaning. I'm a professional educator and I'm supposed to stand on a street corner and recruit kids?" said Mara Harvey, who taught history at the charter school for two years.

Kerry Sylvia, Real Education Reform DC - Right before the holiday break I received an e - mail inviting me to be a teacher in this year's 2009 Saturday Scholars program. After looking at the details provided, it seems like the program is going to be a huge investment - hundreds of teachers will be paid $30/hour for 5 and a half hours each Saturday, January 24 - April 18. . .

The program's focus is to help "DCPS students prepare for the spring 2009 DC - CAS." As a teacher who continues to witness DC schools still lacking in so many areas - resources, supplies, enrichment activities, teachers - it is extremely frustrating to see more money and programs focusing on "teaching to the test".

To make matters worse, "The Saturday Scholars program is an intervention strategy for students who are on the cusp of proficiency for Reading and Math on the DC - CAS."

Where are the programs for the students who are at below basic? What about the students in my World History class who are reading at a 4th grade level? Or, the students who cannot pass Algebra because they don't have basic math skills? So, not only are we teaching to the test, but we are choosing to ignore those that need help the most.

What are the priorities of DCPS? Is it really about children first? Or is it about making ourselves look good?

Could DCPS' focus on improving its measures of "student achievement" actually be in conflict with what's best for student learning?

ONE ALTERNATIVE: COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

COALITION FOR COMMUNITY SCHOOLS - A community school is both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. Its integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities. Schools become centers of the community and are open to everyone - all day, every day, evenings and weekends.

Using public schools as hubs, community schools bring together many partners to offer a range of supports and opportunities to children, youth, families and communities. Partners work to achieve these results:

* Children are ready to learn when they enter school and every day thereafter. All students learn and achieve to high standards.

* Young people are well prepared for adult roles in the workplace, as parents and as citizens.

* Families and neighborhoods are safe, supportive and engaged.

* Parents and community members are involved with the school and their own life-long learning. . .

Active parent and family engagement strongly predicts school success. A recent synthesis of 51 studies on parent involvement found that student achievement increased directly with the extent to which parents were engaged in the [parental involvement training] program

Parent involvement, including factors such as parenting style, parent participation in learning activities and parental expectations is a more accurate predictor of student achievement than family income or socioeconomic status.

Student test scores increased 40% more in schools with high levels of outreach to parents (including in-person meetings, sending materials home, communicating often and in times of difficulty for the child), than in schools with low levels of outreach.

The quality of parent-teacher interactions can predict improvement both in children's behavior and in academic achievement. When parents actively participate in their child's school and interact with their child's teacher, they gain a greater understanding of the expectations that schools have for students and learn how they can enhance their own child's learning at home, according to a study of 1,200 New England urban students

The quality of the partnership among school, family and community significantly boosts attendance and also contributes to a small, but significant, improvement in third graders¡ reading and writing standardized test scores.

Teachers tend to have higher expectations of those students whose parents collaborate with their schools and children have higher test scores and grades when their parents are more involved.

http://www.communityschools.org/

HOW IT WORKED AT ONE SCHOOL

Parkway Heights Middle School, South San Francisco, California

Grades: 6-8
Enrollment: 168 in Families On Track Academy, 800 at Parkway Heights
Geographic area: low-income urban
Ethnic/racial composition: 74% Hispanic, 10% white, 5.4% Asian, 5.4% Native American, 3% African American, 1.8% Pacific Islander
Qualify for free and reduced-price meals: 51.8%
Limited English proficient: 40.5%

Seventy-three percent of the FOT Academy sixth graders decreased the number of absences, compared to fifth-grade attendance reports,

Incoming sixth-grade FOT students had lower overall GPAs than non-FOT students. By the seventh grade, the same group of students had reduced this gap by a statistically significant margin,

Students in the FOT Academy were the only group to increase their grade point averages between the first and second semester,

Five percent of FOT students attended retention summer school, compared to 12% of non-FOT students,

Students participating in FOT were more likely than students in the comparison group to envision a better future for themselves at the end of the school year,

In October 1999, 39% of girls and 26% of boys achieved the program goal for push-ups, and by April 2000, these proportions increased to 70% for girls and 64% for boys,

http://www.communityschools.org/

MERCENARIES IN THE CLASSROOM

JUST LIKE BUSH with Blackwater, if you can't fight the fight yourself, you go out an hire some mercenaries. The beauty of this approach: fewer questions to answer from parents, nosy council members and the media not to mention getting rid of the conveniently purported root cause of all educational failure: the teachers union.

There are a few problems, however. For example, public education in DC is becoming less public by the day. The vital connection between community - its values, concerns and needs - and education are smashed. And, most of all, no one really knows what the hell is going on until it's far too late.

A good clue to the fundamental dishonesty of the Fenty-Rhee approach is in the language being used. Those using misleading euphemisms are not to be trusted. Dion Haines of the Post got it down well:

As a public service, D.C. Wire is offering a handy-dandy translation to the growing list of catchy sounding phrases and concepts:

- The six nonprofits are "partners." That sounds much better than "contractors," which in the District has a nasty connotation associated with corruption, overbilling and favoritism.

- The nonprofits would be hired to help the 10 "partner schools," which is kinder than referring to them as "10 high schools that failed to meet academic targets under the No Child Left Behind law for five consecutive years because of low-performing students."

- Partnership Schools join the newly launched "Teacher Transition Program." Under that initiative, Rhee is offering "awards" - translation buyouts - ranging from $1,000 to $20,000 for up to 700 teachers at the 10 high schools and 17 other failing elementary and middle schools. To receive the "awards," the teachers will have to "transition" out of their jobs - in other words, quit.

- Before that, we learned of the central office "separations." That's when Rhee fired nearly 100 workers in the administration building at 825 North Capitol St. NE.

- And before that, Rhee unveiled the "Reorganization and Rightsizing" program, with the alliterative slogan: "Renew, Revitalize and Reorganize!" For parents at 23 low-enrolled schools throughout the city, that meant, "We want to displace your children by closing their buildings and sending them elsewhere to learn." Hey, it's all about marketing.

Another clue: a near total absence of news of anything substantively good happening in the DC school system. Reorganization doesn't count; that's not education. And it's usually not good government. Good education is about good places where good teachers can do good things. It doesn't happen where good places are being closed and good teachers have to lie awake wondering if they're going to be be the next victim of a miserly "transition award."

What arguments are there for turning over public schools to mercenaries? Well, one might be that the contractors do a better job of it. So let's take a look at Friendship, which is already running some schools in DC. The record according to a study by a school activist: 3 of the 5 campuses failed to meet annual yearly perforamance requirements in both reading and math. One of their campuses met AYP in reading and not math. Only one campus met AYP for both math and reading.

GINA ARLOTTO, CONCERNED 4 DCPS - And if after a few years, those contractors don't work, Rhee will just say oh well and write another contract for somebody else. . . It really saddens me that the leader of our school system has a vision that is to find somebody else's vision for our children and our schools. I also take exception to the term "non-profit" for many of these companies, as we know that Friendship pays Donald Hense $265,000 to run five schools with 4000 kids total. Friendship then pays out over $5 million to Edison for their supposed "great ideas" for education. And are we really going to change our curriculum again? My kids have whiplash from the curriculum changes every other year. Good grief! Pick one curriculum and stay with it-as in so many things in parenting, consistency is key.

WASH POST D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) said that he and Rhee played phone tag yesterday and that he did not know why she was calling. "I couldn't tell you who the nonprofits were if you gave me a million dollars," Gray said. "I know we're in the restructuring mode, but I don't have any details. I really don't know too much about it." The 10 high schools, which enroll 8,148 students, are: Anacostia, Ballou, Cardozo, Coolidge, Dunbar, Eastern, Roosevelt, Spingarn, Wilson and Woodson. The seven other high schools in the District are not on that list.

WASH POST Nathan Saunders, the [teachers] union's general vice president, and Candi Peterson, a member of its board of trustees, said they have heard from numerous teachers who are angry about the buyout. The teachers, they said, are upset that Rhee dropped an initial proposal to offer an "early out" program to teachers nearing retirement, replacing it with a buyout program that applies to teachers across the board at the 50 schools. . .

"They need to know they have jobs. There's no need to be forced out, unless they want to leave," said Peterson, a special education social worker who works at four schools. . . "No credible school system would encourage young and mid-level teachers to resign," she said. . . "Most teachers in the restructured and closed schools are certified. . . . Rhee will probably hire teachers who are not certified."

Kerry Sylvia has taught government for eight years at Cardozo High in Northwest, one of 27 schools to be reorganized because it failed to meet adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind law for five consecutive years. Sylvia, who won an educator of the year award for her work in teaching students street law, said she is reluctantly considering the buyout because she feels "highly insulted" by the school system.

Rhee's message in offering the buyout, Sylvia said, is, "We don't care how good of a teacher you are, we just want you out of here." That, Sylvia said, "infers that teachers are the problem." The buyout "is tempting," she added. "I'm working in a system that's not putting children first."

DC EXAMINER D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee has decided the schools need a chief operating officer, a highly paid post developed in consultation with a powerful and controversial group of business leaders. The new job opening is being advertised on DHR, a search Web site for business executives. According to the ad, the base salary will be between $175,000 and $200,000, putting the COO among the top D.C. government earners. The person selected will be responsible for all nonacademic pursuits and will report directly to Rhee.

One thing that stands out about the job is who's advertising for it. The creator of the job announcement document is identified in Microsoft Word as Terrence Golden, a board member of the Federal City Council, a group of powerful executives that has had a reputation as a puppeteer for D.C. government decisions.

"The whole notion that people get about Federal City Council is that their fingerprints secretly get all over everything. They're privy to information even prior to the [D.C.] Council, which raises all kinds of alarms," said Iris Toyer of Parents United. "Sure, you want your business community involved in the schools and the city, but do I want them more involved than elected officials?"

ANDREA ROSEN - More than a misnomer, calling a buyout an "award" seems like the kind of double-talk George Orwell made central to his dystopic novels "Animal Farm" and "1984." Subtly altering the language used to describe what is going on in schools and to advance the Fenty - Rhee - Rienoso agenda seems to be a hallmark of the current DCPS administration. . . My experience as the parent of a (now-graduated) DCPS student is that there are plenty of teachers in DCPS who have worked as hard as any captain of industry (and for wages akin to the crumbs on said CEO's table) under conditions and in buildings that should make Fenty - Rhee - Rienoso - Hobson beg these teachers' pardon and then beg them to stay. It makes me ill to think that these experienced, self-sacrificing educators may well be the adults who decide they can and must do better in a creditable school system.

BRIAN GILL, RAND - Since 2002, Philadelphia has been the site of the nation’s largest experiment in the state takeover and private management of public schools. As such, the city serves as a test case for some of the most aggressive interventions sanctioned by the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and offers lessons for schools and districts nationwide.

Soon after Pennsylvania took over the Philadelphia school district, the district adopted a “diverse provider” model, handing over management of 45 of its lowest-achieving schools to for-profit organizations, nonprofit organizations, and local universities. The aim was to capitalize on the know-how of the private sector to improve the performance of public schools. The district also gave the private managers extra funding per student. The aim was to capitalize on the know-how of the private sector.

Four years later, student achievement across Philadelphia has risen substantially. On average, the schools under private management have matched but not exceeded the district-wide trends. In contrast, a set of district-managed schools that were given both additional funding and a “restructuring” intervention showed consistently and significantly larger achievement gains in math.

The Philadelphia model diverged from theoretical models of competition in important ways. There was little competition among providers, no parental choice of schools, and continued district involvement in the privately managed schools. . .

From the 2001–2002 school year to the 2005–2006 school year, an additional 11 percent and 23 percent of fifth graders reached proficiency in reading and math, respectively. Likewise, an additional 20 percent and 19 percent of eighth-graders reached proficiency in reading and math, respectively. Philadelphia’s achievement gains were in most cases approximately equivalent to the gains of similarly low-achieving schools elsewhere in the state.

We then compared the trends in the privately managed and restructured schools with the trends of other Philadelphia students. Our major findings are as follows:

- Privately managed schools: There were no statistically significant effects, positive or negative, in reading or math in any of the four years after takeover.

- Restructured schools: There were significantly positive effects in math in all three years of implementation and in reading in the first year. In the fourth year, after the additional resources for these schools had ceased, they maintained a substantially positive effect in math (although the effect was just marginally statistically significant).

In short, after four years of intervention, the achievement gains in Philadelphia’s privately managed schools were, on average, no different from Philadelphia’s district-wide gains. However, the restructured schools remaining under district management outgained the rest of the district in math in all three years of restructuring, with evidence of the gain persisting a year afterward. . .

While the private managers’ contracts are now coming up for renewal, we do not find evidence that would support providing the private managers with additional funding beyond that available to district-managed schools. Nonetheless, average results obscure considerable variation across schools and managers, and we hope that the school district carefully considers the success of each school and each provider as it considers contract renewals. . .

ROSENHALL, SACRAMENTO BEE, NOV 12 [2007] - The Sacramento City Unified school board is reviewing one of its most politically charged decisions: whether it made the right call in 2003 in giving the city's namesake high school to a nonprofit group run by a retired basketball star.

Kevin Johnson's St. HOPE Corp. has asked permission to run Sacramento High as a charter school for another five years. The board will decide by the end of December whether to renew the charter, which allows St. HOPE to run the school free from many of the regulations governing traditional public schools.

The charter school's success has become a matter of great debate. Some of the teachers who bought into Johnson's vision of giving disadvantaged kids a private school-style education for free left after a couple of years. They say St. HOPE hasn't lived up to its promise.

Some students who tried the school have pulled out, and Sacramento Charter High School has not attracted the nearly 2,000 students it was intended to serve.

But the roughly 1,100 students there now say it's a place where they feel safe, cared for and academically challenged. . .

On California's standardized tests, Sacramento High students are improving, but so are all students in the state. So even though the percentage of kids proficient in math and English has risen, Sacramento High scores remain in the bottom 20 percent statewide, the same ranking the school has had since 2002, when it still was run by Sacramento City Unified.

When Sacramento High reopened in the fall of 2003 as an independent charter school, St. HOPE made many changes intended to improve that shoddy performance. It made the school day longer, hired nonunion teachers who were available to students around the clock, and paid for kids to go on college tours.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given Sac High more than $4 million. While test scores aren't where the foundation would like them to be, spokeswoman Carol Rava Treat said, "we feel confident in their commitment" to getting disadvantaged kids into college. . .

Among Sac High's class of 2007 - the first to graduate under four years of St. HOPE leadership - the school reported that 70 percent of graduates went on to a four-year college. But a closer look shows that the class of 2007 - which started with 505 freshmen, according to state data - shrank by 48 percent over four years. Only 262 graduated.

Critics say St. HOPE allows only well-behaved students to stay at the charter school, leaving problem kids to fill Sacramento's neighborhood schools.

And some teachers who joined Sac High when it became a charter school have left disillusioned and bitter. They thought they were signing up for a revolution in public education, several former teachers said. Instead they found erratic leadership, classrooms without enough desks or books, and frequent 12-hour work days.

"It was intensely mismanaged from Day One," said Barbara Modlin, who quit after 2 1/2 years teaching English. "I felt like the doors were opened and the teachers were pushed (into the classroom) and the doors were closed. We were given no support."

When enrollment dropped, former teachers said, St. HOPE asked teachers to recruit middle-schoolers as they walked home from school.

"It was demeaning. I'm a professional educator and I'm supposed to stand on a street corner and recruit kids?" said Mara Harvey, who taught history at the charter school for two years.

2007

WHO NEEDS PUBLIC SCHOOLS? DC DOES

GINA ARLOTTO - Every few months DCPS parents sit down with a cup of coffee to read their Sunday paper and are greeted by yet another rant against public education. Who can forget T. Robinson Ahlstrom's (the headmaster of Washington Latin) screed against public education that ended with the memorable line, "DCPS is dead. Let's bury it?" Now comes Mark Lerner's opinion piece stating that we should toss our entire public school system in the trash for a fully privatized system of charters and vouchers.

Let's just try to imagine what that world would be like:

1. No neighborhood schools. Every single DCPS has a boundary -a circle drawn around that school which, if you live within that boundary, you are guaranteed admission into the school. Unlike our DC charter schools, there's no application to fill out, no interview or contract for your parents to sign, no home visit, no dreaded lottery to win so that you are assured a spot, you just get to go.

2. No assurance of admission from year to year. If your grades lag or you turn out to be too much of a discipline problem, or your parents don't live up to the parent involvement contract they signed, or you have special education needs that supposedly can't be met by the charter, you might not get asked back each year. Many charter schools have contracts of admission, on which they state that attendance in their school is a privilege, not a right, and can be revoked at any time. Many, many students and parents every year are "counseled out" of their charter school and parents end up scrambling to find another school. But, of course, they will always have a spot at their in-boundary DCPS school.

3. Charters opening up in totally inappropriate locations for schools. Right now we have charters using space in churches, office buildings, industrial sections and some former DCPS buildings. Few charter schools have playgrounds or field space or cafeterias or gyms. Other charter school founders are attempting to shoehorn charter schools in the middle of tight residential blocks with no transportation impact studies being completed-there's no parking for staff, and certainly no drop off and pick up lanes for parents.

4. No coordination or planning for school offerings or locations. Charter school operators actively resist the notion that they should be required to coordinate their school themes, teaching philosophy, offerings or locations. That means you can have a French-immersion charter school opening up right across the street from another. Or you can have ten schools run by the same for-profit company, all just as under-enrolled as the DCPS school down the street. Charter schools are supposed to secure a location before the final charter is granted, but that doesn't stop the charter school from getting started and receiving the final charter much later.

5. Children and parents being encouraged to wade through the vast numbers of charter schools trying to find that "perfect" fit. It's like a shopping mall of boutique schools. We all just want a want a decent, solid, rigorous, enriched education for every DC student, not just those students who have parents with the wherewithal to wade through all the different options-and we're also now learning that most charter schools are not doing a better job than DCPS. There are now over 70 charter school campuses in DC - more charter schools per capita than anywhere else in the country-well, except for a post-Katrina New Orleans.

6. An extremely costly system of education. If DC went to an all charter system we would be creating mini-"central offices" at every single school in the city. Instead of being able to coordinate, plan for and organize procurement systems, foreign language programs, athletics, school modernization, whatever, we would have every single individual school doing those things on a one by one basis. Yes, DCPS has done a terrible job with many of these exact tasks in the past-but if it could be fixed and done well, as Ms. Rhee is attempting to do, it will save the city vast sums of money.

So, to Mr. Lerner and Mr. Ahlstrom, and all the other charter school boosters that we have in this city, could you please refrain from using such inflammatory rhetoric when it comes to discussing education in this city? Before you fire off that column for my Sunday paper, please take a moment and really reflect on what it is that you are asking for-the complete destruction of a true, free, open to all, system of schools, that may need some work, but can and will succeed with support from us all.

[Gina Arlotto is the parent of three DCPS schoolchildren and co-founder Save Our Schools]

LEAVE NO SCHOOL SYSTEM EXECUTIVE BEHIND: RHEE'S ASSISTANTS TO MAKE AS MUCH AS FENTY

DC EXAMINER - D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee has committed nearly $1.6 million in public funds for 13 of her top aides, according to figures obtained by The Examiner. Rhee, who is paid more than $275,000 per year to run the city's stricken schools, pays an average of $122,000 to each aide, according to a salary chart provided by Rhee spokeswoman Mafara Hobson. The top salaries include Lisa Ruda, Rhee's chief of staff, and Kaya Henderson, deputy chancellor, who each are paid $200,000 - as much as their boss, Mayor Adrian Fenty, makes.
Jesus Aguirre, a "transition assistant," is being paid $150,000, the salary chart shows. . . D.C. Council Member Phil Mendelson, D-at large, who opposed Fenty's takeover of the school, said the Fenty administration's generosity with taxpayer dollars is worrisome. "This is not the private sector," Mendelson said in a statement through a spokesman. "There does not seem to be any sense of context or proportion between the agencies and the positions."

http://www.examiner.com/a-845245~Rhee_commits__1_6M_in_funds_to_pay_her_top_aides.html

RHEE HAS BEEN SERVING ON BOARD OF CHARTER SCHOOLS

[Something Rhee and Fenty forgot to tell us]

SACRAMENTO BEE, CA - Two members of the St. Hope Public Schools board of directors have been named to top posts in the Washington, D.C., public school system, officials have announced. Michelle Rhee, who has been on the St. Hope board one year, recently was confirmed as chancellor of Washington public schools, according to a news release issued by St. Hope. . . After her confirmation by the Washington City Council, Rhee appointed Erin McGoldrick, who was assigned to the St. Hope board in 2006, as her special assistant for data and accountability, according to the release. . . McGoldrick was the director of data management and analysis for the California Charter Schools Association. St. Hope is a public charter school system that runs two schools locally, Sacramento High School and PS7.

http://www.sacbee.com/101/story/292631.html

FENTY'S WAR AGAINST HOME RULE WINS MAJOR VICTORY

DC Statehood Green Party leaders called a decision by the DC Board of Elections and Ethics not to approve a voters' referendum on Mayor Fenty's public school takeover a blow against democracy, DC home rule, and local law.

"Mayor Fenty has sought to bypass the DC Charter and the spirit of democracy by going over the heads of DC citizens and asking Congress to force the takeover down our throats," said Gail Dixon, Statehood Green and former elected member of the DC Board of Education. "This is something that DC voters should decide, with a public debate on the merits of the takeover and how it will affect our children. The Mayor and Council have turned it into an attack on local law and home rule. To add insult to injury, having a Mayor of DC -- a colony with no voice -- seek the approval of one of the worst presidents in US history is a travesty."

The party pointed out that:

- The DC Charter, the District's equivalent of a state constitution, requires that all amendments to the Charter (such as Mayor Fenty's takeover plan) be placed before DC voters in a referendum: Section 303 declares that the Charter may be "amended by an act passed by the Council and ratified by a majority of the registered qualified electors of the District voting in the referendum held for such ratification." However, Congress may override Home Rule and enact amendments to the Charter without a referendum -- a major complaint of advocates for DC democracy and statehood. Referendum supporters have noted that in 49 of the 50 states, an amendment to their respective constitutions requires a voters' referendum, and if DC public officials wish for statehood for the District, they have an obligation to "act like a state" by allowing DC citizens to have the vote to which their own charter entitles them.

- Mayor Fenty and Council invited Congress to impose the takeover because they wanted to avoid a referendum, which would have placed the takeover under public scrutiny. Mayor Fenty and Council are exploiting Congress's rule over DC to enact their own agenda, in disregard for local law, the DC Home Rule Act, and the desire of DC citizens for democractic self-governance.

- Proponents of the takeover claim that the plan will benefit schoolchildren, and that opponents have little concern for the interests of schoolchildren. But Mayor Fenty's plan provides nothing of substance to fix public education per se, and merely transfers authority over schools and adds a new level of bureaucracy. Mayor Fenty himself and the education officials in his administration have minimal expertise or experience in public education. Victor Reinoso's reform plan was revealed to be a plagiarized patchwork, without attribution, of other cities' reform plans.

- Independent school boards were established to place a wall between public education and the influence of business lobbies and other political considerations that affect the decisions of city councils and mayors. The takeover plan will tear down this wall. Whether or not this should happen should be a question left up to the voters.

- Many parents and public education advocates fear that the chief beneficiaries of the takeover plan will be real estate and development interests and charter school advocates, and that the takeover will fulfill the agenda of major business lobbies, especially the Federal City Council: expansion of DC's failing charter schools program; closing of public schools that occupy real estate coveted by powerful developers. Mayor Fenty named a Federal City Council employee, Victor Reinoso, as Deputy Mayor for Education and chose Neil Albert as his new Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. Mr. Albert was CEO for Ed Build, a private education services and construction firm created by the Federal City Council and the New Schools Venture Fund, an investment group tied to the national charter school movement.

http://www.dcstatehoodgreen.org

JEFF STEELE, STATE OF COLUMBIA - Michelle Rhee likes to recount how her students' test scores rose from the 13th percentile to the 90th percentile during her three years of teaching. She doesn't mention, however, the for-profit company that was managing the school at that time. . . In the Summer of 1992 -just before Rhee began her teaching career -Education Alternatives, Inc., a now-defunct for-profit corporation based in Minneapolis, MN, was contracted by the Baltimore Public School System to manage nine of Baltimore's public schools. Harlem Park Community School, the school to which Rhee was assigned, was among the nine. At that time, "for-profit education" was considered one of the hottest growth industries around and EAI was generally thought to be a market leader. Stock market analysts raved about the company's potential. While EAI had promised that it could achieve better results at the same or lower cost of the traditional school system, analysis showed that the company was provided with a significant financial advantage under the terms of its contract. Not only did cost-savings fail to materialize, but test scores also did not improve. Studies showed that "scores dipped sharply in the first year" before rising the next two years to about their pre-EAI level. If Rhee did achieve the results described on her resume, its no wonder that she was featured so prominently in the media. She may have been the only teacher within an EAI school to have managed such a thing. . . What's important about this is that Rhee was not some sort of Michelle Pfeiffer in "Dangerous Minds", single-handedly changing the lives of inner-city youths. Rather, she was part of a failed commercial foray into the public school system. . . Undoubtedly, there were success stories here and there and Rhee may well have been one, but as a whole, the experiment was a failure.

http://stateofcolumbia.com/weblog/archive/2007/06/15/education-alternatives

REINOSO RUNS FOR LEGAL COVER IN STONEWALLING COUNCIL

NIKITA STEWART, WASHINGTON - Victor A. Reinoso, the acting D.C. deputy mayor for education, declined to say whether he wrote the plagiarized report that has put an embarrassing mark on his six-month tenure. Reinoso cited legal advice for the refusal as he appeared before the D.C. Council. . . Last month, Reinoso, a 38-year-old former Board of Education member, took the blame for copying whole passages from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., school system's strategic plan when drafting a 31-page report for the D.C. system.

The incident dominated the seven-hour public meeting. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) grew increasingly frustrated as he asked Reinoso whether someone else wrote the document. "You're under oath," Graham said, demanding a direct answer. . . . After D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) called Reinoso's testimony "increasingly evasive," Reinoso said the general counsel had advised him not to comment. . .

Barry criticized Reinoso for having one black man on his staff of 13 -- highlighting a growing concern of some city leaders that the Fenty administration has failed to place African Americans in high-profile positions in a majority-black city.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/27/AR2007062702382_pf.html

HOW THE CITY LETS THE MILITARY MISUSE THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

CHOICES - The No Child Left Behind Act allows recruiters to collect contact information on public secondary school students, but also allows students or parents to opt-out by requesting the schools protect their privacy. No citywide policy is yet in place to insure that parents and students in secondary schools know that they have the right to opt out and deny military recruiter access to their private contact information. Once contact information is released, the recruiters are very aggressive, making dozens of calls as well as door-to-door visits with the Armed Services Vocational Battery, a test that is biased against women and people of color and used to determine their job placement in the military if they enlist. Parents and students need to know they have the right to refuse to have their privacy violated by the recruiters and how to make that option permanent for their entire time in secondary school without blocking access to other information about careers and college funding.

The No Child Left Behind Act requires that military recruiters have "essentially the same access as other career paths and institutions of higher learning" at publicly funded secondary schools. In fact they have a very unequal access and are the most visible job alternative for students in our schools. Currently, military recruiters from all branches, reserves and National Guard have an unequal access to students making career choices. Recruiters are present in the community and in our schools almost daily.

Over 90 percent of current enlistments come from the Delayed Entry Program that relies on recruiting juniors and seniors before they know they have other options, and then often illegally harassing and threatening them when they change their minds. Military regulations are clear that DEP enlistees are not in the military or under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and that any who do not show up on their reporting date are disenrolled, not pursued and jailed as recruiters often threaten. Teachers, guidance counselors, students and parents need to be informed by the schools about these rights.

At least seven of the DCPS High Schools now put JROTC, a military recruitment program, on the freshman class schedule for all students. School Board members were notified of this when the first school set the policy, and said it was illegal because it makes it effectively mandatory. Not only are freshmen unlikely to contest any class placement, but also those who do are told they can only be excused if they come from a traditional peace church, a standard that dates back to WWI, and is not inclusive or fair. A standard policy, making JROTC fully voluntary at the least, should be adopted.

DC schools should seriously consider canceling JROTC and de-funding the program, which diverts critically scarce funds for education from the DC school budget to a recruitment program. JROTC is the most expensive per student academic or extracurricular program. The vast majority of students drop out of the program, only 5 percent complete it. There is no empirical study showing that JROTC improves discipline, grades or dropout rates. There is no relationship between JROTC and becoming an officer, but enrollment makes it more likely a student will enlist. This program costs taxpayers over $2.1 million a year, when our schools cannot afford physical plant, textbook, teachers and other critical equipment for the students. DC schools pay half the cost of the salaries and equipment used by instructors, who also do not have to have more than a GED to be hired to teach.

CHOICES
202-583-5347

THEY HAVEN'T EVEN TAKEN OVER THE SCHOOL SYSTEM AND ALL READY THEY'RE CHEATING

DAVID NAKAMURA, WASHINGTON POST - Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration copied significant portions of its education strategy verbatim from a plan developed by a North Carolina school system, even as the mayor seeks to show he has the vision and expertise to restructure governance of the District's troubled public schools. . . Victor A. Reinoso, Fenty's deputy mayor for education and a former school board member, issued a statement yesterday taking responsibility for the copying. . . About 32 percent, or 8,000 words, of Fenty's document is borrowed, said John Barrie, spokesman for Ithenticate.com, a plagiarism detection system designed to help non-academic institutions identify unauthentic material. The Washington Post requested that the company compare the two documents. The similarities were first discovered by Carl Bergman, a former D.C. government deputy auditor. Bergman, who provided copies of his research to The Post and WAMU(88.5 FM), said he researched terms in Fenty's plan on the Internet because he was interested in some of the initiatives. "It's quite unethical," he said.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/08/AR2007050802047_pf.html

[It took the Post 13 paragraphs to give credit to WAMU for breaking the story. Carl Bergman, incidentally, was once associated editor of this journal, back when it was the DC Gazette]

GINA ARLOTTO, CO-FOUNDER, SAVE OUR SCHOOLS - If Mayor Fenty or Victor Reinoso were students in any DC school and turned in a paper that plagiarized 32% of another student's work, they would get an automatic F. In almost any college or university in the country, plagiarism is such a major honor code violation that you can be expelled. And this is who we have running the schools in Washington, DC. . .

Now here are a few other things to note from this shameful episode:

- Reinoso's staff budget (12 or so employees earn almost $1.5M) is more than the entire music budget for DCPS, with 55,000 students. So, we just paid Reinoso over $100,000 to take word for word, another jurisdiction's transformation plan, timelines, catchy quotes and all.

- Reinoso & Co. took the exact timeline that Charlotte is now working under...except that Charlotte started working on their reforms in November. So now we're already behind the ball. Couldn't they even muster the original thought to adjust the timelines? Guess not.

- Reinoso & Co. must think we are all pretty stupid. He planned on passing this off as his own work, vision and testimony to his "expertise" in education reform, when really he (and his staff) knows nothing. Thanks to one eagle-eyed former DC Auditor, we all know the pathetic truth. For all you DCPS parents out there, who work with your children nightly to make sure that reports they turn in are their own original thoughts and wording, this is yet another slap in the face.

ZEIN - Save Our Schools members testified in February in favor of the Charlotte plan. They also pointed out that that plan did not require a takeover to implement.

IRIS TOYER - Did anyone really believe that this group would come up with an original thought? Copying others has become their trademark. They have become so comfortable with that strategy that they have deluded themselves into believing that that is the real work. .

THE ED BUILD SCANDAL

DC EXAMINER - A top city official has recommended a politically connected construction firm - already being audited amid allegations of cost overrun and shoddy work - for a share in the $2.3 billion school modernization project, sources told The Examiner. Neil Albert, the deputy mayor for planning and economic development, has privately said that The Jair Lynch Companies would be a good fit for the school construction project, sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they fear retribution.

D.C.'s Office of the Inspector General is auditing Lynch after complaints about its work under $30 million-plus in contracts with the Department of Parks and Recreation, Inspector General spokesman Austin Anderson said. . .

Sources said that Albert, who founded a nonprofit education consulting company before he became deputy mayor, told Victor Reinoso that Lynch would be his top choice for the job. If Fenty is given formal control of the schools, Reinoso will be in charge of the school modernization project. He will be given a special assistant for the project, whom Fenty will announce later this week, sources said.

The Jair Lynch Companies was founded in the 1998 by two-time Olympian Jair Lynch, a Stanford- and Harvard-trained civil engineer. His was one of two companies retained by Parks and Recreation in 2001 to manage design and construction of several recreation centers.

http://www.examiner.com/a-728451~Deputy_mayor_pushes_controversial_contractor.html

DC EXAMINER - Neil Albert, the District of Columbia's chief development official, lobbied a D.C. Council member to give a $57 million contract to an educational consulting company he founded. Albert founded Ed Build in 2005, when he was briefly out of government. The company has been lobbying for the contract with the D.C. Board of Education for months. Company officials hope the contract is the first step toward becoming a major player in the $2.3 billion school modernization plan. Albert is now the deputy mayor for planning and economic development, which makes him Mayor Adrian Fenty's chief construction official.

Albert told The Examiner that he sat down with Council Chair Vincent Gray and Deputy Mayor for Education Victor Reinoso, and that Ed Build's contract was "one of several issues" discussed at a meeting in Gray's office earlier this month. The council must ratify any contract worth more than $1 million.

Albert said there was "absolutely no conflict" in his urging Gray to support Ed Build. He no longer has a stake in the company, Albert said. . .

http://www.examiner.com/a-730673~Deputy_mayor_lobbied_for_company.html

 

NOT ONLY DO we have charter schools cheating the DC government with phony enrollment figures, but now a GAO report suggests that the much vaunted voucher system lacks financial and safety controls. Reports the Post: "In a random sample of 18 schools reviewed by the GAO, two lacked occupancy permits, and four lacked permits needed for buildings used for educational purposes. At least seven of the 18 schools were certified as child development centers but not as private schools. In one case, a school was operating in a space designed for a retail store, the report says."

THE BACK STORY

V. DION HAYNES, WASHINGTON POST, 2006 - The D.C. Board of Education is considering a no-bid contract with a little-experienced but politically connected organization to upgrade academics and facilities in some low-performing schools. Ed Build, which was started by an associate of both Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) and Mayor-elect Adrian M. Fenty (D), is seeking a contract to provide services to three schools for an as-yet unspecified amount.
The non-profit organization would train teachers and introduce learning strategies at Rudolph Elementary School and MacFarland Middle School, both in Northwest Washington, and at Backus Middle School in Northeast. In addition, Ed Build would manage renovation projects at Rudolph and MacFarland.
Last week, the Board of Education gave the contract preliminary approval and endorsed extending the services to other schools. The school board is expected to take up the issue again early next year after the board and Ed Build reach a more detailed agreement that includes costs. . .

School board member William Lockridge (District 4), who supports EdBuild's efforts to improve academic performance, opposes the proposal to manage construction projects. Lockridge, the only board member to speak against the proposal, said about 65 companies with extensive construction experience have contracts to oversee modernization of about 100 city schools.

The 65 companies were hired "based on their prior experience and projects they had done in the past and their financial stability," Lockridge said. "They are large companies. They have a track record. Why was EdBuild chosen when that is not their niche?". . .

One of the founders of Ed Build is Neil O. Albert, a former director of the Department of Parks and Recreation and a former deputy mayor in the Williams administration. Albert has been tapped to serve as Fenty's deputy mayor for economic development, and he plans to step down as president and chief executive of Ed Build early next month.

Ed Build's board includes John W. Hill, chief executive of the Federal City Council, an influential civic group; and Kaya Henderson, who as an executive of Teach for America was responsible for the training of 170 teachers in the District.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/25/AR2006122500546.html

LAURA PETERSON, COMMON DENOMINATOR, 2005 - City leaders, including some elected officials, have been meeting behind closed doors with business representatives who are creating a private, nonprofit organization intended to help renovate school facilities in the District of Columbia. The nonprofit, called Ed Build, is being crafted by the elite Federal City Council business organization with financial backing from New Schools Venture Fund, an organization with offices in Boston and San Francisco that has strong ties to the national charter school movement. Discussions about a public-private partnership between Ed Build and D.C. Public Schools have been underway for more than a year. . .

Some public school advocates are expressing concerns about the lack of public discussion on the new nonprofit's intended role - especially as the D.C. City Council has spent many months this year publicly debating the creation of a public funding stream for repairing the schools. . .

Ed Build was incorporated in the District on Sept. 16 by four persons, according to documents on file with the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. The four incorporators, also serving as the organization's initial board of directors, include John W. Hill, chief executive officer of the Federal City Council, a powerful business organization whose members are selected by a committee chaired by Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham. The Federal City Council has been a major facilitator in the creation of D.C. charter schools. . .

Hill, who headed the staff of the now-dormant financial control board that Congress imposed on the D.C. government in the mid-1990s, disclosed the recent incorporation of Ed Build during a city council hearing Oct. 25 about options for financing the modernization of all D.C. public schools. . . .

SAVE OUR SCHOOLS - DC voters supported Adrian Fenty because we thought that he would stand up for longtime residents, rebuild our traditional public schools, and stem the tide of gentrification and displacement. A vote for Adrian Fenty was a vote against rampant development and corporate takeover. But on September 13, the day after the Democratic primary, Adrian Fenty met with Terry Golden of the Federal City Council, a secretive group of rich business people known for working behind the scenes to pursue an agenda of gentrification, privatization, and displacement, including the closing of DC General Hospital. Over the past ten years, the FCC has worked with local officials, the US Congress, and corporate privatizers to market school "choice"-charter schools and vouchers -- as the answer to a neglected public school system. Charter schools and vouchers, however, have failed to deliver on their promise to reform public education for the better.

Recognizing this, parents, students, teachers, and community activists have successfully demanded the resources to rebuild our decaying school buildings, and a long-term plan to deliver a good education to all our children is on the table. Now the Mayor-elect is talking about "taking over" the public school system. We didn't hear about this before his primary victory. It all started after that meeting with Terry Golden. Since then, Fenty has appointed a Federal City Council Employee, Victor Reinoso, his Deputy Mayor for Education. He wants to reduce the Board of Education to an "advisory" body. And Neil Albert, Fenty's new Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, was C.E.O. for Ed Build, a private education services and construction firm created by the Federal City Council and the New Schools Venture Fund, an investment group with ties to the national charter school movement.

http://www.saveourschoolsdc.org

FROM THE WONDERFUL FOLKS WHO WANT TO TEACH YOUR CHILDREN HOW TO LEARN

WASHINGTON POST - Victor Reinoso, deputy mayor for education, who took responsibility for the copying, said he did not visit Charlotte or talk to educators here while preparing the D.C. strategy. Nearly one-third of that strategy was directly lifted from Charlotte's plan.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/14/AR2007051401606.html?hpid=topnews

GRAHAM'S WAR AGAINST DC'S YOUNG: WRONG, INEFFECTIVE & UNCONSTITUTIONAL

JIM GRAHAM'S MEDDLING IN other people's lives to make them conform to his view of the way things ought to work is not only wrong and ineffective but, in the case of 18-20 olds, unconstitutional.

Once you've handled the basics - like defining murder and assault as a crime (which happened some centuries ago) what stops people from making damn fools of themselves - whether through drugs, alcohol or violence - is not an endless procession of new laws but a culture that provides them with better alternatives and shows them how to use them. But one need only look at the cynical way the DC government is handling public education to realize how little interest there is in public places for such a logical approach.

The problem with endless law-making is revealed in this morsel from the Post coverage: "Under [Graham's] legislation, D.C. nightclubs could hire off-duty police officers for inside security. That practice was discontinued in 1999 when some officers were accused of lascivious behavior with customers."

That's the way it works. Jim Graham could write a new law every thirty minutes and he still couldn't compensate for the changes in education, the economy and families that encourage self-destruction. One need only look back to the beginnings of the contemporary war on drugs which doubled the number of murders in DC in the 1980s to realize the limits of law enforcement.

At some point you have to have to create a decent culture; that's when people start acting decently. An exploitive, disinterested and unfair culture causes people to seek outlets like drugs and violence.

But beyond all that is the fact that Graham's law is unconstitutional because it creates a group of second class citizens - between the ages of 18-20 who are allowed rights of citizenship including voting and dying for their country, but who are not allowed to vote. Nothing in the Constitution permits this.

So if you're in that age bracket and Jim Graham gets a law passed barring you from the Black Cat or 9:30 Club, here's how to spend your time instead: sue the hell out of him and his colleagues for enforcing unconstitutional segregation of the young.

STUDY BY THOMAS S. DEE AND WILLIAM N. EVANS - Behavioral policies such as seat-belt-use laws, minimum legal drinking ages, and some policies designed to limit drunk driving have improved teen traffic safety over the past 20 years. However, these policies appear to explain only a modest fraction of the enormous gains in teen traffic safety. . . [The evidence] suggests that experiential learning may be an important component of teens' maturation through a variety of risky driving behaviors. The relevance of such learning by doing implies that the new graduated licensing systems may be an effective policy for generating further gains in teen traffic safety. Such licensing regulations require that new drivers acquire experience in low-risk settings before moving into more complex driving environments.

http://www.youthrights.org/docs/DeeEvansDrinkingAgeStudy.pdf

YOUTH DRINKING FAQ

[From the National Youth Rights Association]

How many countries have a drinking age of 21?

Only four on the entire planet. Ukraine, South Korea, Malaysia, and the United States. All other countries(out of like 200) have lower drinking ages, and many don't have any drinking age at all.

Did raising the drinking age save 20,000 lives?

No. This is one of the most misguided and over used statistics circulated by the youth prohibitionist movement. The truth is, as researchers Peter Asch and David Levy put it, the "minimum legal drinking age is not a significant-or even a perceptible-factor in the fatality experience of all drivers or of young drivers." In an in-depth and unrefuted study Asch and Levy prove that raising the drinking age merely transferred lost lives from the 18-20 bracket to the 21-24 age group. The problem with the 20,000 lives saved statistic is that it looks only at deaths for people aged 18-20. This is like rating the safety of a car by looking only at the seat belt and ignoring the fact that the car frequently tips over while driving. Raising the drinking age may have reduced deaths 18-20 but resulted in more deaths among people 21-24. . .

People aren't mature enough to handle alcohol till you turn 21. Right?

When you are 18 you are judged mature enough to vote, hold public office, serve on juries, serve in the military, fly airplanes, sign contracts and so on. Why is drinking a beer an act of greater responsibility and maturity than flying an airplane or serving your country at war?

Doesn't your body develop up till the age of 21?

Youth prohibition activists ignore the fact that maturity is a gradual but uneven process that continues throughout life and is not complete on one's twenty-first birthday. Moreover, they ignore the proven medical fact that the moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with better health and greater longevity than is either abstaining or abusing alcohol. The simplest way to prove this argument is for you to look in your medicine cabinet or go to the drug store. Every single over the counter medication defines an adult dose for ages 12 and up. Not 21, but 12. If the FDA can determine that a 12 year old is developed enough to have an equal dose of Tylenol, or Sudafed, or Dramamine, or Zantac 75, then an 18 year old is developed enough to have a glass of wine with dinner.

NYRA argues that a strict no-use policy towards alcohol causes many problems. How will simply lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18 change this?

The National Youth Rights Association doesn't just feel we should lower the age from 21 to 18 and change nothing else. We feel larger change must occur for people under 18 as well. Alcohol must be introduced gradually and at younger ages (12 perhaps) as they do in Europe. Young people must be allowed to get their feet wet through the introduction of alcohol in small amounts in safe environments like the home. Any permanent change to alcohol policy must stress this above all. NYRA feels this period of gradual introduction to alcohol may take a few years, but in no way should it last until 21. If an ending year for introduction is to be named, 18 is far more reasonable.

I'm over 21, do I have a reason to care about the Drinking Age?

Yes. The strict and blind enforcement of the drinking age creates many victims over and under 21. Problems for people over 21 include the hassle of being carded at bars and restaurants, and the problem of social segregation. When going out with friends the drinking age drives a wedge between friends over and under 21. Often they are unable to hang out at the same places. Most troubling is what happens to parents who recognize the inevitability of underage drinking will try to provide safe, supervised places for high school students to have parties. These parents can be punished to ridiculous lengths for their attempts to allow safe drinking. In February 2003 Elsa and George Robinson were sentenced to 8 years in prison for providing alcohol at their son's birthday party. That's right, 8 years. The harsh drinking age ruins more lives than it helps.

http://www.youthrights.org/dafaq.shtml

OKAY, THEY ASKED FOR IT: START CALLING YOUR COUNCIL MEMBER ABOUT THE NON-WORKING FAUCET IN YOUR SCHOOL

IN KEEPING WITH GARY IMHOFF'S wise words that follow, we suggest that all DC citizens call their councilmember - or any councilmember other than Schwartz and Mendelsohn - with any problem, no matter how small, that they have with the local schools. Cracked window in the classroom? Call Vincent Gray. Classroom too warm? Call Jack Evans. Don't like the homework? Take it up with Marion Barry. They've asked for it. Let them learn what running a school system is really like.

GARY IMHOFF, DC WATCH - The meanness, the nastiness, the pettiness of the council members who supported the mayor's power grab over the schools was on full display in Tuesday's hearing. . . The nasty attitude of the majority, who knew that they would win the vote handily, was reminiscent of the nastiness and meanness of the majority of the last council who voted for the baseball stadium giveaway. . .

They have put the mayor in charge of the schools and put themselves in the position of the school board, being the only body that will have real and effective oversight over the mayor's mistakes. They have made themselves the school board, and they have talked incessantly of accountability and responsibility. They don't intend to be accountable and responsible for the schools, of course. They intend to tell citizens, parents, and students to go to the new State Board of Education or to the new schools ombudsman, whose office is designed to be powerless and ineffective. . .

Councilmembers are the only people whom citizens and parents should go with their problems with the schools, and they should be bombarded with every complaint about the schools that we have, starting today, and held responsible for resolving them.

http://dcwatch.com

OUR OWN THEORY OF why the council and mayor thought they could get away with this outrageous action is that they added up the number of parents as well as the number of teachers who still in DC and figured they could get along without them. Trying this in the 1970s would have caused a major rebellion because parents were much more important politically.

KEY QUESTION ABOUT THE SCHOOL GRAB

We understand that Mayor Fenty thinks he can run the school system better than the school board and superintendent. What we don't know is which model of city hall efficiency and effectiveness he plans to use. Which of the following will Fenty emulate?

The construction of a baseball stadium

The Anacostia redevelopment corporation

Treatment of protestors at demonstrations

Reaching federal environmental standards

Reducing overcrowding at DC Jail

Maintaining a public hospital

Providing affordable housing

Providing new jobs for DC residents as opposed to non-taxpaying suburbanites

Just wondering. . . .

ANOTHER MODEL FOR THE FENTY SCHOOL FEINT? A GAO report on the city's procurement systm. Say Rep. Tom Davis: "This is a scathing report that should serve as a wake-up call to all involved in DC procurement issues, and all those who, like me, care about the health of the nation's capital. The reform that is needed is substantial and statutory. The report makes clear that DC procurement is fatally flawed, both in its structure and execution, affecting all aspects of governance. The GAO is advising us that procurement in the District of Columbia lacks 'transparency, accountability and competition' and that in its present form it 'increases the risk of preferential treatment for certain vendors and ultimately drives up costs.' Current practices clearly do not reflect sound management and oversight. Current procurement practices are totally unacceptable." . . . Wow, seems just like the gang that should take over the schools

THE SCHOOL GRAB [CONT'D]

GARY IMHOFF AND DOROTHY BRIZILL, DC WATCH - Under the chairmanship of Vincent Gray, this is the worst city council that the District of Columbia has ever had -- and we remember the abysmal city councils of the 1970's and 1980's. But even in those days, when city council members were irresponsible and several of them were seriously stupid, at least they understood how to run public hearings, and they realized that public hearings were intended to give citizens of the District an opportunity to speak with their elected public servants. Their meetings maintained a certain minimum level of civility, decorum, and respect toward citizens. By contrast, this council is angry and mean. It is contemptuous of and hostile toward citizens, and its members don't want to hear anything that differs with their preconceived opinions. . . Councilmember Mary Cheh, who is rapidly shaping up to be the nastiest and most disagreeable councilmember in DC history, made a point of assailing every witness who opposed the takeover with the dishonest argument that if they didn't support Fenty, they supported the status quo and didn't want the schools to improve. She deceitfully argued that the burden was on those who opposed the mayor's takeover to explain why they did not support it. Councilmembers Barry, Thomas, and Catania weren't far behind Cheh. They tried to outdo each other in their rudeness; they yelled at witnesses, misrepresented their testimony, refused to confront or even admit their arguments, and refused to let witnesses respond when they mischaracterized their testimony and subjected them to personal abuse.

http://dcwatch.com

ADRIENNE WASHINGTON, WASHINGTON TIMES - Judging from the D.C. Council hearing -- excuse me, witch hunt -- on seizing control of the school system, the deal is done. It is all over but more shouting to celebrate Mayor Greenhorn's victory. I asked D.C. Board of Education President Robert C. Bobb yesterday whether he thought the council had made up its mind. Still licking his wounds in the aftermath of Tuesday's merciless council blood bath, he answered, "Are you kidding? Did you watch those hearings?" Indeed I did, and it wasn't a pretty sight. There was no southern hospitality coming from that Wilson Building dais. Witnesses, especially Superintendent Clifford B. Janey, were berated, badgered, interrupted and not allowed to answer questions during a kangaroo-court-style inquest. "It's too little, too late," shouted one council member after another of the newly elected board's plan. . . Sounding like the lone voice of reason, Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican, asked the most pertinent question of the day: Is any information available that suggests that elected boards versus appointed boards or mayoral control make one iota of difference in improving academic achievement? The answer is no. In fact, Mr. Bobb presented test scores from cities where student achievement has risen under the authority of elected school bodies. The new, untested school board under Mr. Bobb's direction presented a plan, with oversight and accountability standards that could be implemented without amending the city's Home Rule Act. No one, especially Mr. Bobb or the new board, he said, is interested in maintaining the status quo. But he thinks it is unfair to talk about the problems only. Students are achieving great things despite the obstacles in school and in their homes. Just visit Frazier O'Leary's classes at Cardozo High School if you want examples. All this rehashing of the school system's problems is counterproductive and a sham. The majority of council members, for their various political reasons and agendas, are determined to pass this school governance legislation.

http://washingtontimes.com/functions/print.php?StoryID=20070201-105011-2766r

JOSEPH YOUNG, WASHINGTON INFORMER - Geo T. Johnson, executive directive of District Council 20 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, presented his opposition to Mayor Adrian Fenty's school takeover legislation to the D.C. Council. Johnson urgently advised the council to scrap Fenty's bill, and instead hold an education summit to come up with a new plan that the majority of District residents can support. Johnson questioned whether Fenty's plan was anything more than a power grab, which, he said, would politicize the schools, stating the issue be put to a voter referendum instead of seeking congressional approval. "We do not want our children . . . used as pawns in a tug of war," said Johnson whose 8,000 member AFSCME union is the largest representing District employees, including bus drivers, aids and clerical personnel in the D.C. school system. . . School Board President Robert Bobb has said the Board will visit Charlotte, Houston and other cities that have successful public schools. "They've seen changes in their test scores. It's not a governance issue. It's an issue of improving education. . . "I think it's about property. I think it's about real estate. I think it's about the $3 billion budget; $1 billion operation budget. It's more about that than it is about kids," [School Board member William] Lockridge said.

http://www.washingtoninformer.com/A1FentyOpposition2007Feb7.html

NEW AMERICA MEDIA - - Fenty, his transition team and members of the city council traveled recently to New York for a presentation by its mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who tried to convince D.C. lawmakers that taking the school system out of the hands of the Board of Education would be in the best interest of students. Despite Bloomberg's presentation before Fenty et al, New York Councilman Charles Barron, a member of the education committee, warns District residents to stop the takeover.

"The worst thing that ever could have happened to our students was for the state education authorities to give Bloomberg full control of our schools system," said Barron. "If Fenty wants to look at Bloomberg it should be about what not to do and not follow in his footsteps. District residents should stop the takeover and look closely at what is happening in New York."

Barron said that after the takeover Bloomberg was given carte blanche to a $15 billion budget to provide quality teachers and instructional programs for 1.5 million students. "But matters did not improve in the school as expected. In fact, in some instances things got worse," said Barron.

Barron believed the Bloomberg presentation to D.C. officials was no more than a photo-op that was highly criticized. Barron said the brief visit by D.C. officials to speak with three principals and visit one school was a sham for District residents. "We have over 1,000 schools in New York. If Fenty had visited 400 schools, he still would not have a clear picture of our school system. What is happening to D.C. voters is criminal," said Bloomberg.

"Under Bloomberg, the 55,000 teachers are made to teach tests rather than substantive curriculums. The tests are quite biased for the 85 percent African-American and Latino population of the school system," said Barron.

http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=1b610f3ae5930fbcdcc71d0695a9b9f7

THE SORT OF THING we can expect from the school grab is reflected in a piece by Jay Matthews on the alleged virtues of longer school hours, which come down to higher test scores. But as educators, psychiatrists and sensible parents will tell you there's a lot more to a good childhood than test scores and the mechanization of youth by such measures borders on child abuse.

JAY MATHEWS, WASHINGTON POST - For most of his last year at the Washington Jesuit Academy in Northeast Washington, middle-schooler Troy Presbury has arrived with the sun, about 7:30 a.m., and not left until after dark, dragging himself out of a required study hall at 7:15 p.m. Few students in the country come close to putting in the 12-hour days of Troy and his classmates. But the school's students, mostly low-income African Americans, have shown such improvement on test scores with the expanded schedule that D.C. officials are looking to add similar programs to the city's public schools. Fewer than half of Washington Jesuit students were reading at grade level when they entered the school in sixth grade, said the school's headmaster, John Hoffman. But by eighth grade, 90 percent of the students had reached that level. . . D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), hoping to take control of the city's schools, has been admiring the District's Knowledge Is Power Program charter schools, with their nine-hour school days, Saturday classes and mandatory three-week summer school, said Mafara Hobson, a spokeswoman for his office.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/04/AR2007020401163.html

ONLINE PETITION AGAINST THE SCHOOL GRAB
http://www.PetitionOnline.com/yesdcps1/petition.html

TEN REASONS TO OPPOSE THE SCHOOL TAKEOVER

Crystal Sylvia

[Crystal Sylvia is a DC public school parent a school system social worker]

1. While campaigning for the mayoral primary, Fenty never uttered a word about taking over the schools to voters nor did he include it in his education platform. It was only after the primary that he shared his plan. Fenty's landslide victory was a mandate for change not a recycling of Williams failed legislative proposals. Why did Fenty hide his intentions during the primary race?

2. This plan is undemocratic in two ways. Firstly, since Fenty did not include a school takeover in his campaign, he does not have a mandate to take such drastic steps without going to DC residents. Not only should we have public hearings as Council Chair Gray has scheduled but the takeover should also be put before voters as a referendum since it radically changes the governance structure of the schools.

3. Secondly, the takeover is undemocratic because Fenty is asking Congress to change our City's home rule charter to allow the takeover. He is doing this while at the same time planning a march to Congress to demand statehood. Fenty is insisting that he is only going to Congress to prevent a long drawn out divisive debate on the issue. The takeover undermines democracy and our fight for statehood.

4. The takeover will mean one more layer of bureaucracy in DC public schools. Fenty will have authority over the superintendent and the Council will have line item control (micromanaging authority) over the DCPS budget. This type of top down approach is already one of the main criticisms of DCPS by parents and teachers. Under Fenty's plan, those who know best how to improve the system (parents, teachers and students themselves) will be even further removed from any real decision making power. The takeover just adds one more layer at the top.

5. Let's look at alternatives to a takeover like showing more support of Janey's Master Education Plan and Master Facilities Plan. Janey has also recommended that a moratorium be placed on new charter schools which are draining money and resources out of the school system while at the same time performing no better than DCPS.

6. t is quite alarming that the people Fenty has chosen to spearhead his education reform efforts, Victor Reinoso and Neil Albert, are very closely tied with the Federal City Council. The FCC operates like a shadow government of Washington DC. It pushes pro-business legislation and development in DC and leverages tremendous power among our elective officials. Many people are rightly speculating the possibility of a land grab of DCPS property by developers.

7. Ever since Fenty's announcement of a takeover all of the focus on DCPS has been overwhelmingly negative. The media, city leaders, and DC residents are only discussing how DCPS is dysfunctional. While in no way can one deny the huge problems that exist in DCPS, it is important to recognize that there are a lot of great things happening as well. It is very demoralizing to students, school staff and parents to constantly hear only the bad. It makes you just want to give up hope.

8. As a parent who chose to run for mayor and prioritize his efforts on improving public schools, it is very disheartening that Fenty also chooses to send his two children to private school. Almost all of the people in power (Mayor, City Council members and School Board members) do not have a child enrolled in DCPS yet they claim to know what is best.

9. The takeover will be yet another turnover of leadership in DCPS. The instability of leadership within DCPS has been one of the main obstacles to true reform. The takeover will mean new initiatives to replace the "old" initiatives which are only a couple of years old. Even though Fenty is going to keep Janey for now, the leadership and direction of DCPS is going to change with the takeover. So while we are waiting for this to happen DCPS is being paralyzed- why bother planning for the future when the takeover will create so much change.

10. Fenty should use all of his energy and resources supporting and fixing the problems of other DC agencies that he has control over which directly impact our students. Major improvements are needed in the Department of Mental Health, juvenile services, substance abuse services, Department of Human Services and with improving our students and their family's access to quality health care and safe affordable housing. All too often DCPS is saddled with the responsibility of trying to educate children whose families are in crisis or are in desperate need of support services.

GARY IMHOFF, DC WATCH - The effort to blame an elected school board for the problems of the District of Columbia Public Schools is sadly misplaced. The city's public schools haven't been under the control of an elected school board for the past ten years. The Control Board replaced the elected school board with an Emergency Transitional Board of Trustees in 1996. The Control Board's promise was that a clear line of authority and a strong leader, General Julius W. Becton, would ensure rapid improvement of the schools. Becton's 1997 report, "Moving Toward an Exemplary System: A Report on the First Year's Efforts to Reform DC Public Schools," makes for much more instructive reading a decade later than it did when it was released. What reading it now teaches is not to believe promises of quick and easy school reform brought about by a clear line of authority and a strong leader. In 2000, Mayor Williams proposed a charter amendment to replace the elected school board with a mixed mayorally appointed and elected school board. He promised that that would make the mayor directly responsible for the schools and give him a clear line of authority to improve them. The motto of the campaign to reduce the number of school board members and replace half the elected members with mayorally appointed members was "Accountability, Leadership, Change." What that experience taught is not to believe mayoral promises that mayoral leadership and accountability will change the schools.

http://dcwatch.com

BULLIES ON THE SCHOOL PLAYGROUND

[From the Concerned4DCPS list]

ELIZABETH DAVIS - Dr. Janey, unfortunately, and like so many of our former superintendents, had to bow down and kiss the golden ring of Terry Golden in order to join the 'elite, membership-only club' of the Federal City Council when he assumed his position as DCPS superintendent. It's been one of the key mandates for prominent city leaders (elected or appointed)for decades. Why? Because FCC is (and has been) the shadow governance body in DC since the beginning of time. . . Their trump card has always been that most DC voters are not even aware of who they are and who they represent. .

MARC BORBELY - One concrete danger with Fenty's proposal to ask Congress to amend our Home Rule Charter for us [is that] the approach Fenty is suggesting would require Congress to pass an identical copy of the proposed legislation. But during the legislative process on the Hill, 535 visitors to DC would get to propose any changes they liked to our governing structure -- and our elected leaders would have been the very people who asked Congress to meddle. Who knows what would emerge from Congress, and at whose behest? On the other hand, if we made any changes ourselves (via council action followed by a referendum), Congress would have only veto power over the proposed change -- the same veto power it has over most DC legislation. Do we really want our local laws to be written by Congress?

CITY PLANNING TO TURN SCHOOL ROLES OVER TO BUSINESS INTERESTS ON NO BID BASIS

V. DION HAYNES, WASHINGTON POST - The D.C. Board of Education is considering a no-bid contract with a little-experienced but politically connected organization to upgrade academics and facilities in some low-performing schools. Ed Build, which was started by an associate of both Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) and Mayor-elect Adrian M. Fenty (D), is seeking a contract to provide services to three schools for an as-yet unspecified amount.

The non-profit organization would train teachers and introduce learning strategies at Rudolph Elementary School and MacFarland Middle School, both in Northwest Washington, and at Backus Middle School in Northeast. In addition, Ed Build would manage renovation projects at Rudolph and MacFarland.

Last week, the Board of Education gave the contract preliminary approval and endorsed extending the services to other schools. The school board is expected to take up the issue again early next year after the board and Ed Build reach a more detailed agreement that includes costs..

School board member William Lockridge (District 4), who supports EdBuild's efforts to improve academic performance, opposes the proposal to manage construction projects. Lockridge, the only board member to speak against the proposal, said about 65 companies with extensive construction experience have contracts to oversee modernization of about 100 city schools.

The 65 companies were hired "based on their prior experience and projects they had done in the past and their financial stability," Lockridge said. "They are large companies. They have a track record. Why was EdBuild chosen when that is not their niche?". . .

one of the founders of Ed Build is Neil O. Albert, a former director of the Department of Parks and Recreation and a former deputy mayor in the Williams administration. Albert has been tapped to serve as Fenty's deputy mayor for economic development, and he plans to step down as president and chief executive of Ed Build early next month.

Ed Build's board includes John W. Hill, chief executive of the Federal City Council, an influential civic group; and Kaya Henderson, who as an executive of Teach for America was responsible for the training of 170 teachers in the District.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/25/AR2006122500546.html

LAURA PETERSON, COMMON DENOMINATOR, 2005 - City leaders, including some elected officials, have been meeting behind closed doors with business representatives who are creating a private, nonprofit organization intended to help renovate school facilities in the District of Columbia. The nonprofit, called Ed Build, is being crafted by the elite Federal City Council business organization with financial backing from New Schools Venture Fund, an organization with offices in Boston and San Francisco that has strong ties to the national charter school movement. Discussions about a public-private partnership between Ed Build and D.C. Public Schools have been underway for more than a year. . .

Some public school advocates are expressing concerns about the lack of public discussion on the new nonprofit's intended role - especially as the D.C. City Council has spent many months this year publicly debating the creation of a public funding stream for repairing the schools. . .

Ed Build was incorporated in the District on Sept. 16 by four persons, according to documents on file with the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. The four incorporators, also serving as the organization's initial board of directors, include John W. Hill, chief executive officer of the Federal City Council, a powerful business organization whose members are selected by a committee chaired by Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham. The Federal City Council has been a major facilitator in the creation of D.C. charter schools. . .

Hill, who headed the staff of the now-dormant financial control board that Congress imposed on the D.C. government in the mid-1990s, disclosed the recent incorporation of Ed Build during a city council hearing Oct. 25 about options for financing the modernization of all D.C. public schools. . . .

SAVE OUR SCHOOLS - DC voters supported Adrian Fenty because we thought that he would stand up for longtime residents, rebuild our traditional public schools, and stem the tide of gentrification and displacement. A vote for Adrian Fenty was a vote against rampant development and corporate takeover. But on September 13, the day after the Democratic primary, Adrian Fenty met with Terry Golden of the Federal City Council, a secretive group of rich business people known for working behind the scenes to pursue an agenda of gentrification, privatization, and displacement, including the closing of DC General Hospital. Over the past ten years, the FCC has worked with local officials, the US Congress, and corporate privatizers to market school "choice"-charter schools and vouchers -- as the answer to a neglected public school system. Charter schools and vouchers, however, have failed to deliver on their promise to reform public education for the better.

Recognizing this, parents, students, teachers, and community activists have successfully demanded the resources to rebuild our decaying school buildings, and a long-term plan to deliver a good education to all our children is on the table. Now the Mayor-elect is talking about "taking over" the public school system. We didn't hear about this before his primary victory. It all started after that meeting with Terry Golden. Since then, Fenty has appointed a Federal City Council Employee, Victor Reinoso, his Deputy Mayor for Education. He wants to reduce the Board of Education to an "advisory" body. And Neil Albert, Fenty's new Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, was C.E.O. for Ed Build, a private education services and construction firm created by the Federal City Council and the New Schools Venture Fund, an investment group with ties to the national charter school movement.

http://www.saveourschoolsdc.org

GARY IMHOFF, DC WATCH - Our mayor and city council have been even less competent and successful than our school board. The departments and agencies that are run by the mayor and overseen by the city council are run no better -- and often much worse -- than the school system. If the mayor and school board ran the schools, is there any reason to believe that schools would be rebuilt and repaired with any more speed and efficiency than the libraries? Is there any reason to believe that the school facilities would be maintained any better than our local parks and recreation facilities? Is there any reason to believe that the school bureaucracy would be any more responsive to the public than the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs? Is there any reason to believe that the Office of Procurement would manage school contracts any better and more honestly than it does other city contracts? Is there any reason to believe that vocational training would be handled any better than the vocational training done by the Department of Employment Services? Is there any reason at all to think that the mayor and city council would take better care of their wards in the schools than they take care of their wards under the supervision of the Department of Mental Health?

http://dcwatch.com

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[You know the mayor is in trouble if your editor and Colbert King agree that's he's wrong about something]

COLBERT I. KING, WASHINGTON POST - In the space of a dozen years, the school system has been governed by an elected board, a congressionally created financial control board (and its appointed trustees and Army general), a hybrid elected-appointed school board, and a line of superintendents that stretches around the block.

Now the curtain is rising on new D.C. political theater to be staged at the John Wilson Building. A giddy press corps is lined up to review the actors' performances. . . It will be a quite a show. But chances of the fight actually benefiting children are about as good as those of the Atlantic Ocean being emptied next week with a teacup.

That's because the focus is on gaining power and control, not on children.

Pushing aside the school board and granting the council line-item control over the school budget, as Fenty proposes, invites lawmakers to micro-manage school spending and operations. . .

Likewise, the appointment of former school board member Victor Reinoso as deputy mayor for education may give Fenty an acolyte close at hand. But Reinoso, in experience, stature and moxie, is no Joel Klein, the sophisticated New York City schools chancellor. Besides, where does this leave Superintendent Clifford Janey?

There's more to education than good test scores. A good education improves one's ability to think and communicate. That kind of education should take place in the classroom and at home. In the District, both areas desperately need strengthening. A plan that does that is worth fighting for. Anything less, and all we have are a bunch of pols thrashing around for control . . .

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/05/AR2007010501737_pf.html

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A FEW POSSIBLE PRO-SCHOOL VOTES ON COUNCIL

DC EXAMINER - Though a majority of D.C. Council members flanked Mayor Adrian Fenty at his school takeover announcement Thursday, some council members and people close to the council have suggested there could be fissures over the bill. Councilman Phil Mendelson, D-at large, has come out as the council's loud opponent to the bill so far. He was not at Thursday's press conference, which was attended by every other council member with the exception of Carol Schwartz, R-at large. . . "I do not support us changing the [D.C.] charter, making [the Board of Education] a subordinate agency." Mendelson, whose daughter attends a public elementary school, said he recognizes a need for the system to change, adding "the mayor can do that without taking it over."

"I think that what people are not seeing is this is not really about how to improve the schools, but rather a philosophy where one person can do it and everybody else can't," Mendelson said.

Schwartz did not return a phone call Friday. She has said previously that she is not sure whether she supports a mayoral takeover.

Councilman Kwame Brown, D-at large, has also said he's "not 100 percent behind any plan."

"Do I support the plan that was presented to me?" Brown asked. "No."

http://www.examiner.com/a-496105~Not_all_council_members_on_board_with_school_takeover_plan.html

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THESE ARE THE PEOPLE ADVISING FENTY

PARTHENON GROUP - Parthenon provides strategic expertise across a variety of business issues and industry verticals. Our boutique approach lends itself to relentless commitment to serving clients' interests as well as a high degree of customization in our analytical approach.

TEACHER'S COMMENTS - "Strategic expertise" is meaningless babble unsupported by evidence. . . "Vertical" is an adjective, not a noun. . ."Boutique approach" is ad talk not suitable for a DC Public school essay. "Relentless commitment" and "customization in our analytical approach" are more babble. Please rewrite this whole paragraph.

IF YOU THINK we took this nonsense out of context, here's some more [with annotations]:

PARTHENON GROUP - Competitive strategy at the corporate and business unit levels remains a top priority for CEOs and lies at the center of our client work. Parthenon brings together some of the most capable strategists and a wealth of accumulated experience to leverage [business slang] our clients' capabilities, assets, and relationships. Our proprietary Full Potential Paradigm [Get rid of this paradigm before it flunks you] has helped CEOs understand the most critical components of their strategies. . .

One of Parthenon's differentiating [ugly corporate slang] strengths is its rigorous attention to fact-based analysis. [If it ain't fact based, dude, it's not analysis] The goal of profit improvement strategy is to enhance [don't MBAs know the word improve?] the performance of a core business through this fact-based approach. By strategically identifying, prioritizing [another noun overused as a verb by sub-literate business types], and implementing both cost reduction and revenue enhancement [big words do not make you more credible] opportunities, Parthenon has substantially increased profitability for many clients. Specific profit improvement initiatives include pricing optimization, sales and marketing effectiveness, sales force optimization, and process improvement. [Snore]
.
Parthenon formalized its capabilities for innovation, ideation [jargon], and new growth strategies. Two overriding trends - major disruptions in technology and shifts in consumer behavior from transaction-oriented buying [how does one buy without a transaction?] to "experienced-based" buying [jargon] - have led companies to contemplate the importance of new product development more than ever. . . Through forward-looking trend identification [jargon], new customer behavior analytical tools, "brain walking" [shouldn't that be 'brain dead'?] workshops, and scenario-based thinking [jargon], Parthenon has worked with clients to generate innovative ideas and higher proportions of revenue growth from step-out businesses.

The Parthenon Group has focused its intellectual capital efforts in three key areas - Education (Edupoints), Macro-Economic Econometrics (Parthenon's Perspective), and Company Value Creation (Full Potential Paradigm). [The Parthenon Group has also invented three redundant examples of verbose management gobblygook]

[The Parthenon Group should not be advanced to the next grade until it has learned to speak standard English. It is certainly not ready to be employed by the DC government.]

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WHAT HAPPENED WHEN LL BEAN HIRED THE PARTHENON GROUP'S COMPETITOR

[The Boston Consulting Group is a key competitor of the Parthenon Group that was hired by Fenty. We can expect some of the same problems]

SAM SMITH, WHY BOTHER - The Reagan-Bush-Clinton years took their toll on LL Bean which, like so many other large corporations, began hyping the image of what it is supposed to be even as the reality behind the image was fading.

Bean's problems began in part when the company hired some Boston consultants in 1998 who advised it to "restructure" the corporate offices into "eight strategic business units" such as LL Home, LL Kids, and LL Sports. The firm also suggested a number of other moves popular with contemporary techno-managers. Soon the company found itself also faced with a major unionization effort by the Teamsters.

According to Lisa Chmelecki of the Forecaster newspaper:

"[The Boston Consulting Group] assigned managers to each unit and they told everyone that they had to reapply for their jobs," said one employee who had worked there for 15 years. According to Kayser [a former employee] and the others, almost every corporate employee had to submit a resume and one-page essay describing their aspirations as an LL Bean employee. They also had to submit a list indicating the positions for they were applying.

"All work stopped for at least three months," Kayser said. "Nothing got done, because we were all printing off resumes and were being encouraged to spend time meeting with the managers who would be hiring us. . . "

"I never even had to write a resume before," [another ex-employee] said." There was so much pressure to prove ourselves, to go around strutting our stuff. My record should have spoken for itself. . . . LL Bean is not the company I went to work for six years ago. The attitude has changed. Now, it is strictly about numbers. People are dispensable."

[Another worker told Chmelecki] "There was a time when LL Bean talked to the [employees] before making any major changes and there were management people that looked after the little guy -- not so today."

LL Bean is the state's third largest employer. The changes taking place reflected the corrosive effects of the new capitalism and some of the bizarre management techniques that have accompanied it. These changes, according to one survey, found 56% of employees nationally saying their company did not genuinely care about them and a similar percentage saying that they have no strong loyalty towards their firm.

In the end, LL Bean avoided unionization after giving employees some of the benefits that a union would have sought and Bean itself might have offered without prompting in an earlier time. Bonuses, not seen for five years, were resumed and employees were granted additional holiday time off, night-time premium pay, a relaxation in the dress code, and a fitness program.

|[Some of the best stuff in the new battle to save our schools comes from internet sites such as Concerned4DCPS. Here are excerpts]

GINA ARLOTTO - My big worry is that with the plan as it stands now, Developer X could go to Councilmember Y and say School Z's enrollment is dropping, how about if you consolidate that school with another, sell me the building (for not too much money, natch) and then I'll give the consolidated school a few kickballs or air conditioners - plus on the side I'll make sure you (the councilmember) is taken care of.

Another worry is that Councilmember Y could go ahead and start changing the school programming for their ward, with say, giving charters all the buildings and just forcing any school to co-locate without any real way to engage the public. Look at all the "emergency legislation" that went through in the final days of '06. . .

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MARC BORBELY - The council should quickly reject Mayor Fenty's highly undemocratic proposal to go above voters' heads with his school restructuring proposal. Fenty wants the council to ask Congress to amend our Home Rule Charter for us: to castrate our Board of Education, turn DCPS into a regular agency headed by an appointed Chancellor, and grant the council full budgetary and legislative authority over our public schools. (Note: as proposed, this is a council takeover, not a mayoral takeover. Unlike in NYC and probably all other cities, our legislature would be in full control of our local schools; Fenty would have to do what the council tells him to do.) . . .

The Home Rule Charter's amending procedure leaves legislative control essentially in the hands of the council, where it should be, granting ratification power to the voters and veto power to Congress. If the District bypasses this procedure, Congress will have to actively pass exactly the legislation . . . Who knows what else Congress will do to us in the process? A referendum will let voters weigh in on who we want controlling our schools: a Board of Education elected solely to govern schools, or a city council with hundreds of other competing pressures and interests. Perhaps DC voters will choose the city council over the school board. But voters, not 535 visitors to the District, should make this decision.

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LEROY HALL - If you heard R. Bobb and A. Fenty on Kojo Namdi's show, you know we have four choices. Side with Bobb who is against the Fenty's schools takeover or side with Fenty and go against Bobb's ultimate agenda to hand over more school property to developers. Bobb said if Fenty wins this, he will resign. Of course, developers will win anyway. The third choice is picket both houses. The fourth is accept the fact that we will not prevent anything or make anything happen and just wait for the fall-out.

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GUY - For Fenty to claim that he had a mandate to take over the schools is a complete and utter falsehood. Not a word about the idea was even breathed by him or his staff during the only campaign that matters in DC, namely the primary election. For him to claim, as he did on the Kojo Nnamdi show, that he didn't want to go to the voters and see if they would support his desire to eliminate the school board because it would involve people getting mad at each other and insulting each other (or words to that effect) shows that he doesn't like democratic give and take and debate. Having this change in the home rule charter to be enacted by the City Council and the Congress shows again that he is opposed to democracy.

I voted for Fenty in the primary because I couldn't stand Cropp. But when I found out that he was going to work to eliminate the school board (as pitiful as the board can be, at times), then I decided to vote for a different candidate in the

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HARRY TRAVIS - Every publicly funded elementary and secondary school in the UK is visited and reviewed annually by teams of professionals from OFSTED just as the Joint Accreditation Board visits and analyzes performance of hospitals in the US. Performance is assessed in multiple dimensions. All reports are available to the public. When we have a quality control process like that within DCPS, one which is itself subject to public analysis, review and revision, then accountability will have some meaning. . . to enlarge their practices.

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/

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MARC BORBELY - If Fenty wants to make these major changes, he should at least have the guts and integrity and respect for people to take his proposal before voters for a referendum, as required by DC law. The DC Home Rule Charter requires charter amendments to go before the voters in a referendum, giving voters direct power to say yea or nay on major changes to our law, such as who makes decisions for us. Fenty told Dorothy Brizill in the press conference that he had no intention of doing so - that he'll be asking Congress to change our law for us, and that he's already lined up supporters on the Hill.

Fenty should bear the burden of convincing voters that this will be an improvement. Change for change's sake is not wise. Of course he's been able to convince council members. They'd get tons of power over huge amounts of money and contracts. And of course the business community is thrilled. . .

Our school board decided last year that it would not sell any school buildings but rather lease them out and keep them in their inventory for when the buildings are needed again. (What do we do when enrollment increases again, or when class sizes are reduced?) This was a major blow to developers, and charter schools. I trust elected school board members much more to place children's interests first, than I do Council, Congress, or the mayor -- or than an appointed "construction authority."

FENTY DIDN'T EVEN TALK WITH SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS

WASHINGTON POST - Mayor Adrian M. Fenty proposed yesterday a dramatic restructuring of the D.C. public schools that would give him ultimate authority over the troubled system, create an independent agency in charge of a $2.3 billion capital construction budget and establish an ombudsman to investigate complaints from parents. . . Within hours, new Board of Education President Robert C. Bobb criticized the plan and threatened to resign if it is approved.
"Taking the board and making it an advisory board is not something we embrace," said Bobb, joined by three board members during a news conference at the board's headquarters in Northeast. "I did not run to serve in an advisory capacity."
The school board members said they were angry because Fenty did not include them in developing the proposal and did not brief them before his announcement. They said they learned about the details by watching a live broadcast of the conference. . .

The nine-seat Board of Education, now a mix of elected and appointed members, would be rechristened as a "state board of education," Fenty said. The board would lose all of its authority in overseeing day-to-day operations of schools but would retain its role in devising policies on such matters as standardized testing and teacher certification.

[The Post is a bit disingenuous in the graf that follows. It's not a matter of "Fenty could have. . ." The law requires a referendum unless, as Fenty plans, the District Building asks Congress to destroy the citizens' rights in this matter - CD]

The proposal would require a change in the city's home rule charter, meaning that Fenty's legislation would need approval from the council and Congress. Fenty could have put the issue to a referendum but said he did not largely because he and six council members had just won an election in which voters called for drastic measures to improve the schools.

Most of the nine council members who joined Fenty yesterday said they support the main tenets of his proposal. Members Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) and Carol Schwartz (R-At Large), who have said they oppose a takeover, did not attend the briefing.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/04/AR2007010401761.html?nav=rss_politics

WASHINGTON TIMES - Mr. Bobb, who was sworn into office Wednesday night, said yesterday Mr. Fenty had not consulted him about the plan or presented him with a copy before distributing it to reporters earlier. . . He also said he would rather see the Board of Education dissolved than see it turned into an advisory body. "The only reason I can see, from the summary, that we have this particular proposal is that we don't want to become involved and engaged in a conversation along home rule and eliminating the elected school board," Mr. Bobb said. . . Carolyn N. Graham, the vice president of the school board who was appointed to the board by Mr. Williams and lost a November bid for school board president, was also at Mr. Bobb's side. "It is unfortunate that we are having to have a dialogue now with the new administration through the press as opposed to face to face, where we sit down as adults and make right decisions and good decisions that concern meeting the needs of our children," she said. "We are looking forward to a review of the legislation. We have not even been given a courtesy copy, an embargoed copy, of the legislation, which is rather troubling." Mr. Bobb acknowledged that momentum in the debate seemed to be with Mr. Fenty and that he was "realistic" about the likelihood of its passage. "The train has, in fact, left the station," Mr. Bobb said.

http://insider.washingtontimes.com/articles/normal.php?StoryID=20070104-112332-7619r

ABOUT THE STRANGEST RESPONSE CAME FROM JIM Graham who said, "I have great confidence in this mayor. I have great confidence in how he has approached this. Without the sense of confidence that Adrian Fenty could do this job, I would be looking at other options today." Is that how Graham writes laws and why he destroys home rule? What happens if the law passes and the newxt mayor doesn't give Graham a "sense of confidence?"

SAVE OUR SCHOOLS - The Save Our Schools Coalition, an all-volunteer group of parents, students, teachers, trade unionists, and community activists, will hold a press conference before the start of Mayor Adrian Fenty's inaugural ball. The press conference will lay out a people's action agenda for affordable housing, health care, and public education and remind Mr. Fenty and other newly elected officials that their victory was a people's mandate for change. In addition, the Coalition will demand that Mr. Fenty respect our right to a fully elected school board, support a moratorium on new and expansion charter schools, and protect our hard-won school modernization money from outside contractors and others seeking to privatize our public schools.

"We volunteers for Fenty were out on the streets working for a change from the insensitive Williams administration's rampant development," explained Coalition member and tireless Fenty campaign volunteer, LeRoy Hall. "We did not vote for the Federal City Council, an invitation-only group of rich business people founded by the Washington Post's Graham family, to run our city," he added, alluding to Fenty's post-primary meeting with Federal City Council Chair Terry Golden and his subsequent announcement of an attempted take-over of the public schools.

The press conference will call attention to the historic complicity between our elected officials and the Federal City Council and the devastating effects of this relationship on poor communities of color. During the Williams administration, the FCC worked with local officials and the US Congress to close DC General Hospital and to privatize our neglected public school system by encouraging the proliferation of unaccountable charter schools.

According to Crystal Sylvia, a Ward 4 voter and social worker for DC Public Schools, "There is a growing sense of alarm among Fenty's grassroots base that he is becoming too influenced by the Federal City Council, which has acted as a sort of shadow government in DC. Even before taking office, Adrian Fenty has been meeting behind the scenes with the FCC and hiring their peopleNeil Albert and Victor Reinoso, just to name two."

"We elected Fenty, not the FCC. We're calling on residents throughout the city to attend the press conference and help us get our people's agenda back on the table," she added.

saveourschoolsdc.org


QUESTION OF THE DAY

If the mayor and city council show such contempt for their own voters that they are willing to trash the home rule charter for political gain, why should anyone expect them to show the slightest respect towards students who can't even vote?

DC SCHOOLS FORCING JROTC ON STUDENTS

JOHN JUDGE, CHOICES, SCHOOL BOARD TESTIMONY - I have appeared before the Board before to raise the problem of making Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps mandatory by putting it on the freshman class schedule in at least 7 DC High Schools that we know of. As far as I can determine, this is the only city in the county with such a policy. . . It is being pushed by the JROTC command as a pilot program being tested on DC youth.

At the very least the Board should adopt a city-wide policy that JROTC enrollment is totally optional and also establish a simple opt-out policy for any student at this point who wishes to disenroll, with notification of that right to both students and parents. . .

We are also concerned about reports of a feeder program in the middle schools in DC recruiting young students into JROTC when they go into high school. This is equivalent of child recruitment in our view and should be discontinued.

The JROTC program serves no academic purpose. Not one empirical study exists to show that enrollment improves grades or decreases dropout rates in for the students. In fact, all but 5% of original enrollees drop out of JROTC before graduation. In addition, the program in our schools costs DC taxpayers and the DCPS $2 million a year, the most expensive per-student class or activity. This money would be better spent on a legitimate educational purpose.

The real purpose of JROTC in our high schools has always been to increase enlistment rates, which rise notably for students who attend even one year of the program, and only 2% of JROTC graduates ever become officers in the military. What is the message to our children when we put a metal detector at the front door to detect weapons and have a rifle range for JROTC in the basement? . . .

The only purpose I can discern for this pilot program in DC making JROTC mandatory for all students in their freshman year of High School is to falsely boost overall enrollment figures. These figures determine whether the programs are eligible for the federal funds that pay the other half of the cost of the program and should be based solely on voluntary enrollment. This policy could be leading to a misappropriation of federal funds.

[A] second area of concern is the provision of the national "No Child Left Behind" Act requiring all secondary schools that take federal funds to provide full contact information on students to military recruiters on request. The Board needs to adopt a clear policy to protect student privacy by notifying all students and parents of their legal right to opt-out of the program and refuse to have information released to recruiters. . .

Parents, students and the Board need to be aware that recruiters are very aggressive once they get contact information. . . In some cases recruiters in DC are coming to the students homes with a copy of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, which has been evaluated by educators as racially and sexually biased. This recruiting tool is used to route women and people of color into the worst jobs in the military while selling them on promises that rarely come true.

The most common form of recruitment is the Delayed Entry Program, which signs students up before they graduate to enlist when they do. Recruiters will threaten students who change their mind when they discover other alternative jobs or scholarships with the idea that it is illegal or that they will be jailed or punished for failing to enlist at the arranged date. In fact, it is illegal for the recruiters to make these threats under military regulations. Students can get out of DEP either by notifying the recruiting command that their situation has changed or by failing to report on the enlistment date arranged. They are not yet in the military and they have no legal obligations to the program. . .

Veterans leaving the military today have a rate of unemployment three times the national average, and they are four times as homeless as those who never join if they are African-American. DC has always been over-represented in war deaths in American history. Women in the military face dead-end jobs and high levels of sexual harassment and rape. People of color are much more likely to face court-martial and one out of three African-American enlistees end up with less than honorable discharges which mark them for life with legal employment discrimination.

johnjudge@starpower.net

 

2006. . .

LOOKS LIKE THE REAL WINNER WAS THE FEDERAL CITY COUNCIL

SAVE OUR SCHOOLS COALITION - DC voters supported Adrian Fenty because we thought that he would stand up for longtime residents, rebuild our traditional public schools, and stem the tide of gentrification and displacement. A vote for Adrian Fenty was a vote against rampant development and corporate takeover.

But on September 13, the day after the Democratic primary, Adrian Fenty met with Terry Golden of the Federal City Council, a secretive group of rich business people known for working behind the scenes to pursue an agenda of gentrification, privatization, and displacement, including the closing of DC General Hospital. Over the past ten years, the FCC has worked with local officials, the US Congress, and corporate privatizers to market school "choice"-charter schools and vouchers -- as the answer to a neglected public school system.

Charter schools and vouchers, however, have failed to deliver on their promise to reform public education for the better. Recognizing this, parents, students, teachers, and community activists have successfully demanded the resources to rebuild our decaying school buildings, and a long-term plan to deliver a good education to all our children is on the table.

Now the Mayor-elect is talking about "taking over" the public school system. We didn't hear about this before his primary victory. It all started after that meeting with Terry Golden. Since then, Fenty has appointed a Federal City Council Employee, Victor Reinoso, his Deputy Mayor for Education. He wants to reduce the Board of Education to an "advisory" body. And Neil Albert, Fenty's new Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, was C.E.O. for Ed Build, a private education services and construction firm created by the Federal City Council and the New Schools Venture Fund, an investment group with ties to the national charter school movement.

http://www.saveourschoolsdc.org

NO LONGER JUST THE KIDS MISBEHAVING IN THE SCHOOLS

SO FAR THINGS DON'T look any brighter for the school system. Two highly ambitious men, Bobbobb and Fenty, aren't even in office and already are making the schools pawns to their political ambitions. Fenty wants to take them over; Bobb says, as Channel Four reports, that "he didn't spend all this time, effort and energy running for president of the school board to be an adviser." We had sort of hoped there would some higher principle involved than his preferred role in life.

And there's much more to this than just two guys on the make. The primary goal of many of our leaders is to see how many acres of DC land they can turn over to their developer contributors and old, underused schools are tempting morsels. Add to that the big bucks in school repair and construction plans and it looks like those SAT scores are just going to have to wait a few more years.

Gary Imhoff put it this way: "The wild card in this battle is the proposal for an "independent" construction authority to award construction contracts and oversee school renovations. If the authority is set up, the battle will be over who appoints its members -- the mayor, the school board, the council, or some combination -- and therefore who controls the decisions of the authority and, thus, the money. Fenty and Bobb are both too smooth to carry out this fight in public, so most of it will be behind closed doors."

And as Dennis Jaffe wrote in the same DC Watch: "The function of independent authorities is largely to serve as safe havens for big money politics to dominate the decision-making process outside of public scrutiny. Members of such entities usually remain rather anonymous. The meeting schedules of such entities usually remain relatively unknown. The opportunity for members of the public to get information in advance of decisions becoming a done deal and to speak out at such meetings is guaranteed to be insufficient.

"Construction firms, bond houses, law and accounting firms -- the professional service firms -- which contribute big sums of money to candidates and the Democratic Party, and which intensely lobby government officials, "pay to play" in the game of getting a piece of the action, in this case a piece of the $2.5 billions going to capital improvements. If an 'independent' construction authority is established, we will see in a few years news stories about favoritism and lack of accountability and incompetence."

"Construction firms, bond houses, law and accounting firms -- the professional service firms -- which contribute big sums of money to candidates and the Democratic Party, and which intensely lobby government officials, "pay to play" in the game of getting a piece of the action, in this case a piece of the $2.5 billions going to capital improvements. If an 'independent' construction authority is established, we will see in a few years news stories about favoritism and lack of accountability and incompetence.

http://dcwatch.com

BUSINESSES, NOT FENTY, COULD BE REAL WINNERS IN SCHOOL TAKEOVER

ALTHOUGH the Post buried the fact fourteen paragraphs into its story, Fenty's new deputy mayor for education and point man for the takeover of the city's schools, is an official of the Federal City Council, dedicated to the principle that what's good for the richest corporados in town is good for all the rest of us. The Federal City Council's goal is to replace the will of the voters with its own. And it succeeds.

The move raises the interesting question of whether Fenty struck some sort of deal on schools before the Washington Post - intimately tied to the FCC - gave him its endorsement. In any case, it's a sign that Fenty is far less independent than he has claimed to be.

KATHRYN SINZINGER, COMMON DENOMINATOR, 1999 - An exclusive group of largely wealthy Washington area business people has for years been working behind the scenes with the city's political leaders to advance its own agenda for the nation's capital - often without D.C. residents' input and almost always without wide knowledge of its efforts. Legislative influence of the group, which has close ties to the Washington Post, extends from the D.C. City Council and the mayor's office to the halls of Congress and the White House, according to sources interviewed for this story. Since the Kennedy administration in the early 1960s, even the president's Cabinet and other key federal officials have been considered ex officio advisers.

Membership in the private and generally secretive group, called the Federal City Council, is highly selective. Washington Post Publisher Donald E. Graham serves as nominating committee chairman for the organization, which was founded in 1954 by his father, the late Post Publisher Philip L. Graham. Seed money for the group's formation came from the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, named for the parents of Katharine Graham, chairman of the Washington Post Co. executive committee.

"They're controlling the city and it's a problem," said Sandra Seegars, a longtime Ward 8 activist and recent appointee to the D.C. Taxicab Commission. "It's a secret group that's in the background pushing buttons and pulling strings, but nobody knows who they are."

A spokesman for the Federal City Council declined to cooperate on this story, except to provide a copy of the group's 1999 annual report and a directory of the group's members, called "trustees," which was published in January 1999. . . "We don't seek publicity," said David Perry, the organization's deputy director. Files in the D.C. Public Library's Washingtoniana collection show the Federal City Council's founding and early projects received prominent coverage in both the Washington Post and the now-defunct Evening Star. However, except for newspaper clippings of the group's first 10 years of activities, the library's information about the Federal City Council is sparse. Librarian Matthew Gilmore noted with a chuckle that files about the Federal City Council "disappear" from the library's collection almost as soon as they get created. . .

Control board records, provided in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, show the control board has awarded at least 24 contracts valued at nearly $20.4 million to businesses affiliated with the Federal City Council during the past four years. About $3.8 million of those tax dollars were committed under non-competitive "sole source" contracts, with another $4.8 million awarded for "modifications" to the contracts after they were awarded.

The 11 firms which hold Federal City Council membership that were awarded the contracts are KPMG Peat Marwick; Arthur Andersen; Booz, Allen and Hamilton; Lockheed-Martin; Price Waterhouse; Carey Winston; Hogan and Hartson; Wilkes, Artis, Hedrick and Lane; Hunton and Williams; Arnold and Porter; and Shaw, Pittman, Potts and Trowbridge.

http://www.thecommondenominator.com/121399_news1.html

LAURA PETERSON, COMMON DENOMINATOR, 2005 - City leaders, including some elected officials, have been meeting behind closed doors with business representatives who are creating a private, nonprofit organization intended to help renovate school facilities in the District of Columbia. The nonprofit, called Ed Build, is being crafted by the elite Federal City Council business organization with financial backing from New Schools Venture Fund, an organization with offices in Boston and San Francisco that has strong ties to the national charter school movement. Discussions about a public-private partnership between Ed Build and D.C. Public Schools have been underway for more than a year. . .

Some public school advocates, who learned about EdBuild only last week, are expressing concerns about the lack of public discussion on the new nonprofit's intended role - especially as the D.C. City Council has spent many months this year publicly debating the creation of a public funding stream for repairing the schools. . .

Ed Build was incorporated in the District on Sept. 16 by four persons, according to documents on file with the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. The four incorporators, also serving as the organization's initial board of directors, include John W. Hill, chief executive officer of the Federal City Council, a powerful business organization whose members are selected by a committee chaired by Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham. The Federal City Council has been a major facilitator in the creation of D.C. charter schools. . .

Hill, who headed the staff of the now-dormant financial control board that Congress imposed on the D.C. government in the mid-1990s, disclosed the recent incorporation of Ed Build during a city council hearing Oct. 25 about options for financing the modernization of all D.C. public schools. . . .

NewSchools Venture Fund's Marenus said "close work" between Ed Build and DCPS has been done since Ed Build founders approached school officials to discuss the organization's desire to partner with DCPS to help improve the number of high-performing schools and renovated buildings in the District. Marenus identified school board members Thornhill, Ginsberg and Victor Reinoso and Ward 7 Councilman Vincent Gray among city officials with whom he has met to discuss Ed Build. . .

Reinoso, an elected school board member who is the Federal City Council's director of education initiatives, did not return calls for comment on his role with Ed Build. Gray also did not return calls for comment.

COMMON DENOMINATOR, 2005 - In an alarming 5-4 decision, the nation's highest court ruled June 23 in Kelo v. New London, a Connecticut land use case, that government officials are free to bulldoze homes and small businesses for private redevelopment with a "public purpose," such as an expected increase in tax revenue or jobs. . . It is not surprising that the editors of the region's dominant newspaper, The Washington Post, find no fault with what the Supreme Court has done. After all, the court's ruling merely expanded upon its 1950s decision that allowed the wholesale destruction of Southwest Washington neighborhoods to move forward -- a plan advanced by the Post's publisher at the time, Philip Graham, and a then-new business organization he founded with a lofty title, the Federal City Council. Since that time, the Federal City Council -- a by-invitation membership group that includes many of the region's wealthiest developers and bestows honorary membership on high-level federal officials -- has grown increasingly secretive in exerting its powerful influence over matters of public policy.

http://www.thecommondenominator.com/062705_edit.html

COMMON DENOMINATOR, 2004- Coming under increasing criticism for a potential conflict of interest between serving his employer or the public, D.C. Board of Education candidate Victor Reinoso says he does not plan to quit his job as director of education initiatives for the Federal City Council if elected on Nov. 2. "If there are areas that there might be conflict, I would simply recuse myself - I don't know what those might be," Reinoso told The Common Denominator today during a telephone interview.. . . The group has provided the impetus for a variety of local education initiatives over the years and in the mid-1990s disbanded its D.C. Committee on Public Education to create in its place the D.C. Public Charter School Resource Center. Promoting the creation of charter schools remains among the group's major efforts. . .

Reinoso, 35, has gained major endorsements during the past week to emerge from a crowded field as a lead challenger to incumbent District II school board member Dwight E. Singleton. Among those who have endorsed Reinoso are Ward 4 Councilman Adrian Fenty, who announced his support during a press conference today, and The Washington Post. . .

Several times during his campaign, Reinoso has stated he works for "a local nonprofit on education reform," without directly naming the Federal City Council. He said he does that "because some people just don't know what the Federal City Council is" and that he lists the organization on his resume, which is made available to the public on his campaign Web site. "I make no bones about my job," he said.

PLEASANT MANN, DC WATCH - While I am all for maximizing the use of our public buildings, there are some problems with the current approach. First of all, there is the troubled history of mixed use in the District. In my neighborhood, the new Shaw Junior High School was built with a pool in the basement and an adjacent park so that it could also serve as a recreational center. Unfortunately, the pool and eventually the entire park were abandoned by the Recreation Department. Whatever the cause for this sad state of affairs, the department does a decent job of managing its new single-use facility at the Kennedy Playground a few blocks away. . . A second problem that I have with the current drive for mixed-use is its emphasis on our libraries. If you look around the District, there are police headquarters, fire stations, recreation centers, and schools that are sitting on valuable sites. However, the library system is the only District agency called upon to leverage real estate in order to finance its capital needs. While the Mayor's Library Taskforce stressed the need for more mixed-use buildings, there were only two examples available. The fact that the mixed-use library projects in Salt Lake City and Vancouver were both done to address a particular problem (revitalizing run-down sections of downtown) and even share the same architect (Moshe Safdie) suggests that mixed-use may not turn out to be a major trend in library design.

http://dcwatch.com

FROM A INTERNET BB - As a mere parent, one of the things in Ravich's article that leaped out at me was the reference to Everyday Math. With a fourth grader in a DC school, I have been struggling with this misguided piece of curriculum for two years.

Whoever wrote it doesn't understand the basics in child learning, discipline, and developing a sense of accomplishment. The curricula jumps (within a two month period) between learning to measure, geometric shapes, multiplication, division, and decimals. Gone are drills to memorize multiplication tables, addition/subtraction facts. Apparently, the authors of this curricula thought children would learn better if they sort of absorbed math by osmosis and were exposed, willy nilly, to all manner of math subjects.

Under Everyday Math there is never enough time devoted to any one area, and this means that children don't get to master skills and (as important) feel that they are accomplished before they are dumped into another math skill set. If your kid doesn't "get" multiplication, it's very likely that he or she won't have a chance to focus again on this skill for several weeks, because the unit on geometry has started.

Since humans learn most basic math facts by simple memorization and practice, this curriculum only works when parents are providing this practice at home. That's fine, if you have parents at home breaking out the flash cards. In homes where you don't, you end up with a frustrated child who is not learning math. And if your kid has special needs or learning disabilities, this curriculum is impossible. (Actually, one parent I know likened it to a traditional math curriculum with ADHD -- that hadn't been put on meds yet.)

Also, Everyday Math requires kids to learn skills like estimation, rounding, etc. before they fully understand precise computation skills (borrowing, carrying) fully. Kids are also asked to use oddball charting of multiplication problems, before they know how to do "regular old" multiplication of multi-digit figures.

I'm all for teaching children to think independently and problem solve, but first they need to have basic skills under their belts. Everyday Math doesn't provide those skills -- at least from this mere parent's view point.

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU LET FENTY FOLLOW HIS NEW HERO BLOOMBERG AND TAKE OVER THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

BELOW ARE SEVERAL clips pointing out issues that have been raised concerning the school programs being run by NYC Mayor Bloomberg and school chancellor Joel Klein. While educators may differ on the best way to teach a subject, what is striking about the Bloomberg approach is the extent to which certainty has replaced competence. In this respect the Bloomberg plan is similar to Bush's No Child Left Behind program. In each case, men with great power and experience in business - but with no particular skill in education - have successfully marketed their favorite programs as unquestionably the best approach to teach children. In each case, the media has swallowed the marketing hook, line and sinker. In each case the program is based on certainty parading as competence. And each case serious questions have been raised which the media has largely ignored.

Diane Ravitch reported, for example, that "In some districts, supervisors roamed classrooms with stopwatches, and teachers were penalized if they spent a few too many or too few minutes on a mandated activity." This is not education, it is a form of madness spread by those who can't tell the difference between a corporation and a school. We certainly don't need such madness to spread to DC.

JAMES TOOLEY, HOOVER INSTITUTION, 2005 - "Minority kids soar in reading," screamed the banner headline on the New York Post's front page earlier this year. Along with its rival tabloid, the Daily News, the Post supported Mayor Michael Bloomberg's education reforms and now has credited those reforms for a "record setting" 10 percent improvement in the city's scores on state-administered 4th-grade reading tests.

Actually, it's anyone's guess why the 4th-grade scores rose so sharply this year at the same time that the 8th-grade reading and social studies scores went from bad to worse (with only 32.8 percent of city 8th graders meeting state standards in reading and 20 percent in social studies). It could well be due to broader educational forces or to changes in testing procedures. Either could explain why 4th-grade scores were up throughout the state, and student gains in Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers were even more impressive than in Gotham.

In any case, no reputable researcher would rely on a one-year bump in some test scores to judge the efficacy of a new program. In the absence of independent confirmation by testing experts, one should remain highly skeptical of the claims of Mayor Bloomberg and his supporters that his instructional initiatives are working.

Unfortunately, this is also an election year, which means that political spin is likely to drown out reasoned debate about what policies are most likely to work in inner-city classrooms. The premise of mayoral control was that the public would finally be able to hold someone accountable for the schools. But the billionaire mayor has almost unlimited resources to win an electoral spin war, regardless of the reality in the classroom. In addition to dipping into his private fortune for unlimited campaign ads touting his test score gains, he has total control of a $15 billion education empire that doles out jobs and no-bid contracts to potential critics and spends millions on a well-oiled public relations machine, but spends nothing on independent research or evaluation of classroom programs. This has consequences for the national education debate as well. If Bloomberg is reelected, his model of reform through dictatorial mayoral control will surely be urged on other troubled urban school districts. . .

Bloomberg and [Joel] Klein created what appeared to be a streamlined structure for efficiently managing the city's 1,300 schools. Instead of overlapping administrative layers operating through 32 separate school districts, there would now be one clear chain of command extending vertically from the mayor's office to the chancellor, then down through ten regional superintendents, and finally to the principal of every school in the system.

So much for the Management 101 part. What happens in the classroom of the new order? . . .

The administration's new approach, Bloomberg said, was to allow the chancellor's office to "dictate the curriculum and pedagogical methods," including a reading program with "a daily focus on phonics." The mayor also promised, "Our teachers will all employ strategies proven to work." A few days later Chancellor Klein announced that the mainstay of the new citywide literacy curriculum would be a program called Month-by-Month Phonics. . .

The selection of Month-by-Month Phonics in January 2003 provided the first clue that there was an instructional void at the heart of the Bloomberg/Klein reforms. Not only has this program never met the "proven to work" standard set by the mayor; it isn't even a systematic phonics program, despite its name. Even the authors of the program concede the point. Phonics, they argue, is only "one-quarter of a well-balanced literary diet." . . .

Mayor Bloomberg was warned repeatedly by federal and state education officials that Month-by-Month Phonics wouldn't qualify for the $34 million annually in reading funds available to the city. In a letter to Bloomberg, Klein, and Lam, seven noted reading specialists, including three who had served on the National Reading Panel, said that Month-by-Month Phonics is "woefully inadequate," "lacks a research base," and "puts beginning readers at risk of failure in learning to read. . .

After stonewalling for almost a year, Chancellor Klein found a way out of the dilemma. He agreed to install a phonics program called Harcourt Trophies in only 49 schools in order to qualify for the federal funds. Klein's gamesmanship was unnecessary and tragic. It should have been a no-brainer for the city to pick up more than $200 million in federal funds over six years for something it should have been doing all along. So why would an education administration that claims to care only about the interests of kids decide to use a reading program, Month-by-Month Phonics, that does not meet the standard for effectiveness established by a broad consensus of scientists?. . .

Chancellor Klein has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on mandated professional development sessions . . . Yet there's no research evaluating the effectiveness of a program that is eating up so much of the city's budget and its teachers' precious time. New York City has nothing like the independent research consortium, based at the University of Chicago, which provides objective third-party evaluation and analysis of performance data supplied by the Chicago school system.

What's indisputable, however, is that the intellectually vacuous nature of these sessions and the central administration's tyranny over classroom instruction is demoralizing many excellent and successful teachers. The city will surely lose many of them. "There isn't one teacher I know who doesn't say they would leave if they could," says Norman Scott, a 35-year veteran classroom teacher and publisher of an independent newsletter for city teachers. . .

The problem is that, because Chancellor Klein has tyrannized all teachers with mindless directives about their classroom practices, he has forfeited any chance of getting significant work-rule changes. Why would any self-respecting teacher be willing to give Chancellor Klein even more power over his or her professional life? Come to think of it, Chancellor Klein has managed to incorporate one of the worst characteristics of the teachers' contract into his own professional development regime. It's the pernicious idea that all teachers are of equal value to a school and should be treated accordingly. Thus the contract mandates that the math teacher with a Ph.D. who teaches AP calculus is on the exact same pay scale as the 7th-grade gym teacher. The teacher who works 60 hours a week, spending extra time with students and parents, is equal to the teacher putting in the contractual minimum of 6 hours and 40 minutes per day.

http://www.hoover.org/publications/ednext/3217541.html

DIANE RAVITCH, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2005 - In the fall of 2003, Chancellor Klein introduced the mandated reading and math programs. About 200 relatively high-scoring schools were exempt from the mandates, and many others adopted supplementary programs to supply the basics that are missing from the standard approach. Still, teachers frequently complained of micromanagement, due to the heavy-handed imposition of lockstep constructivism. In some districts, supervisors roamed classrooms with stopwatches, and teachers were penalized if they spent a few too many or too few minutes on a mandated activity. The new curriculum has proven to be a bonanza for the education establishment, particularly schools of education such as Columbia's Teachers College, which receives millions of dollars each year to train teachers in constructivist methods.

To streamline the bureaucracy, the mayor collapsed 32 local school districts into 10 administrative regions. The new administrative regime consists of 10 regional superintendents, six regional operating centers, over 100 local superintendents, and a parent coordinator for every school.

Have the reforms been cost-effective? Mr. Klein claims that the reorganization saved $250 million, but the city comptroller disputes that figure. In any event, the budget for the schools grew in the first year of implementation of Mayor Bloomberg's reforms by nearly $1.3 billion dollars. The state comptroller reported that the Department of Education overspent its budget last year by $236 million (the city comptroller said the shortfall was $156 million).

In the reorganization, the central Board of Education was replaced by a powerless panel that serves at the pleasure of the mayor. Without an independent lay board, the Department of Education is free to allocate its budget without public oversight or transparency. Previously, no-bid contracts were rare, seldom amounting to more than $1 million per year, and were reviewed in public meetings. In the past two years, the Department of Education has awarded over 100 no-bid contracts for over $100 million with no public review.

Mr. Bloomberg's plan created a privately funded Leadership Academy to recruit and train new principals. The academy launched a highly publicized nationwide search for experienced principals. Philanthropies and businesses underwrote the academy at a cost of $25 million per year for three years. The first-year results have been disappointing. Only one out-of-town principal was recruited. The first class of 90 trainees yielded 65 new principals, making this possibly the most expensive training program in history. . .

In the first round of state testing in 2004, the results were mixed. In the fourth grade, where the pedagogical changes were concentrated, the citywide scores in math were up by 1.4%, but in reading they declined by 3%. In some poor districts, such as Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant, the score declines in reading were in double digits.

http://www.nychold.com/art-wsj-ravitch-050512.html

ELIZABETH CARSON, NY DAILY NEWS - Here's a math problem for you: Count the excuses people are trotting out for why school kids in New York City and State did poorly in the latest round of math scores. The results showed just 57% of the city's and 66% of the state's students performing at grade level - and a steady decline in achievement as kids got older. It's about family income, said an article in The New York Times. "The share of students at grade level in affluent districts was more than twice as big as in impoverished urban districts." . . .

Nobody spinning the test scores is zeroing in on the single biggest reason math achievement in New York City and state lags and will continue to lag: Our schools use a far-too-fuzzy curriculum that fails to give kids rigorous instruction in the basics. In New York City, the program required in the vast majority of schools is called Everyday Mathematics. Chancellor Joel Klein swears by it. If you ask administrators to explain it, they'll use just enough jargon to make it sound decent.

But the truth is, Everyday Math systematically downplays addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, which everyone knows are the foundations for all higher math. Instead of learning those basic four operations like the backs of their hands, students are asked to choose from an array of alternative methods, such as an ancient Egyptian method for multiplication. Long division is especially frowned upon.

There are no textbooks; that would just be too traditional. Instead, the idea is that kids ought to sit in groups, while a "facilitator" - that's the teacher - helps. And, oh, one more thing: Calculators are introduced in kindergarten.

Not every single piece of the program is hogwash. But taken in total, the curriculum is soft enough to let down thousands upon thousands of our children. That's why it was rejected - twice - in the careful curriculum analysis process they use in California.

As Matthew Clavel, a former teacher, has written about his fourth-grade class in the South Bronx, "The curriculum's failure was undeniable: Not one of my students knew his or her times tables, and few had mastered even the most basic operations; knowledge of multiplication and division was abysmal."

But don't take my word - or Clavel's word - for it. A 2004 study by the National Research Council said that programs including Everyday Math, known as "reform" or "constructivist" math, lack evidence of effectiveness. And the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics last month released new guidelines emphasizing core math skills - a tacit admission that what so many American schools have been teaching for so long is wrong.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ideas_opinions/story/462000p-388711c.html

FENTY IS ASKING FOR BIG TROUBLE

ADRIAN FENTY is flirting with disaster as he talks and thinks about taking over the school system. Here are a few reasons why:

- He's got more than enough to do straightening out the government he was elected to run without adding the one he wasn't.

- He has no particular skill in running a school system. If he had run for school superintendent he probably would have lost.

- People who take over school systems without knowing what they're doing often screw up, witness New York City where the test scores have actually fallen.

- The reason people want to take over school systems is because they think if they apply corporate principles to education it will produce good students. It doesn't for the simple reason is that schools are about education while corporations are about making and selling things in large quantities. Corporations are bureaucratic creations, education ultimately depends the relation between each teacher and each student at a particular moment. The corporate metaphor is not only wrong, it is antagonistic to education.

- A mayoral takeover of the school system would be the greatest anti-home rule measure since the late 19th century. It would be an insult to everyone who has worked for DC self-government.

- Unless Fenty can get Congress to order his takeover, he would have to get public approval through a charter amendment. This would be a huge and pointless debate that would, in the end, ruin his credibility and popularity.

[Here's one of the models Fenty is admiring. In fact, the chancellor can't even add right himeself, describing a decline in test score as progress]

SARAH GARLAND, NY SUN, OCTOBER 12 - City students this year scored worse on the statewide math test than in 2005 but won the praise of the schools chancellor, Joel Klein, who said the test was more difficult than in previous years. The city did worse than the rest of the state but better than other large cities: 57% of New York City's third- through eighth-graders passed the test, compared with 35% in Rochester, Yonkers, Syracuse, and Buffalo, according to results released yesterday. "We're clearly on the right path," Mr. Klein said. "We still have a tremendous amount of work to do."

This year, 71% of city fourth-graders passed the math test, compared with 77% in 2005, but the 2006 scores were up 2 percentage points versus 2004. In the eighth grade, 39% passed, a drop from 41% in 2005 and 42% in 2004. . .

The city test results, which for the first time included third through eighth grade, showed a steady decline as grade levels rose - the same pattern that appeared in reading test results, which were released last month. While school districts across the state shared the trend, the drops between each grade were more dramatic in New York City and other large cities.

http://www.nysun.com/article/41435

[Note the amazing arrogance of Bloomberg towards educators, parents, and students]

DAVID NAKAMURA WASHINGTON POST - In 2002, Bloomberg abolished the Board of Education, took direct control of the 1.1 million-student system and named a former Justice Department lawyer as schools chancellor. Bloomberg's plan is a prototype for D.C. Democratic mayoral nominee Adrian M. Fenty, who has spoken admiringly of the speed and breadth of New York City school reform. Fenty, who plans to meet here today with Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein, suggests he will move quickly to take control of the District's struggling system next year. Fenty is all but guaranteed to win the Nov. 7 election; three-quarters of registered voters are Democrats. It remains to be seen, however, whether the nation's largest school system is an applicable model for the District, which has 58,000 public school students.

Furthermore, not everyone in New York is thrilled about Bloomberg's approach, saying he has created model schools at the expense of others, which have faced further crowding and discipline problems. When Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa visited Bloomberg in the spring to seek advice for his own takeover bid, 40 New York parents and educators wrote an open letter to their L.A. counterparts urging them to oppose the effort. Bloomberg has little patience for his critics, insisting that he has broken through the "politics of paralysis" that stymies turf-oriented school boards. . .

Many of the moves have angered teachers and parents, who complain that the Bloomberg administration operates schools like a corporation with heavy-handed, top-down management. Elected community school boards that had helped shape decisions in vastly different neighborhoods were abolished. Teachers who were once free to develop creative lesson plans were told to teach a uniform curriculum that focused on reading and math at the expense of history, art and science. . .

"I truly believe it has been a terrible experience," said Leonie Haimson, a parent activist who led the letter-writing campaign to parents in Los Angeles. Bloomberg and Klein "have used the takeover to have complete dictatorial powers over our schools. They do not listen to anyone. They are not accountable to anyone."

Bloomberg compares running the school system to directing other city agencies, such as police or health care, where decisions do not require approval from advisory boards or parent committees. The parent coordinator Klein hired for every school is enough, he said. . .

The city's Panel on Education Policy, an appointed committee that replaced the school board and approves major policy decisions, balked. No matter: Bloomberg dismissed two members he had appointed, orchestrated the removal of another and got his way. That move outraged stakeholders who believed Bloomberg had walled off healthy dialogue.

"The biggest mistake Bloomberg made is that because he was given control by the state legislature and elected by the public, he thought he had all the answers," said David Bloomfield, an education professor at Brooklyn College who serves on an advisory panel to Klein.

"Control means control," he said. "If what you want is something where the mayor sits there and says, 'I'm at the top of the tree, but no one has to listen to me,' that's not control."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/15/AR2006101501197_pf.html

YEAR ROUND SCHOOLS

AP - D.C. Public Schools Superintendent Clifford Janey is proposing year-round classes for a few schools to help boost student achievement. The proposal calls for shortening the summer break at five schools, at least three of which would be low-performing. Janey says he is running out of options to help students in struggling schools. . . Nationally, the number of year-round schools has been declining since a boom in the 1990s. . . The superintendent is negotiating with the Washington Teachers' Union on a provision to allow teachers to work in year-round schools.

http://wtop.com/?nid=596&sid=901720

LIKE THE CHARTER SCHOOL MOVEMENT, the year round schooling movement is one part desperation; one part - as with intelligent design - theory without facts; and one part a subtle attack on public education. There is absolutely no evidence that spending more time in the DC public schools improves anything. In fact, if you look at grade scores relative to the rest of the nation, you find that the longer you go to DC public schools, the less well off you are. What is needed is better education - which means better teachers and better principals and better curricula - not more gimmicks that the media and politicians can babble about.

Besides year-round schooling will do absolutely nothing to compensate for the lack of vocational training and other programs for students whose intelligence is more structural, social, or creative than the robotic variety increasingly favored by American education. Nor will it will improve critical thinking. What it will do is make it harder for those students who have to - or want to - work at a job to do so; increase the boredom of the often justifiably restless; and shorten the time students can learn from that vital form of education known as play.

BILLEE BUSSARD - Wait long enough and wolves in sheep's clothing will reveal themselves. So it is with one of the prime promoters of the year-round school calendar, a school reform that sounds innocent and benign, but in fact fits in with the larger self-serving corporate agenda.

Dr. John Hodge Jones. . . urges calendar change at all costs in his keynote speech at the [2005] annual convention of the National Association For Year-Round Education. . . Jones, a former superintendent of Murfreesboro, Tenn., schools, is also the man who said in a Tennessee newspaper interview that kids should go to school in shifts like factory workers (which no doubt was an attempt to accommodate Japanese and other car makers that had moved to Tennessee, including one near his school district.). . .

Despite recommendations for a longer school year pushed in that study and by the Business Roundtable, an organization of CEOs from financially and politically powerful corporations, the year-round school movement was stagnant as it entered the new millennium. A big setback for calendar change agents was damning testimony in the Williams vs. California lawsuit, which cited the year-round calendar among the education detriments disproportionately imposed on minority children. California has housed the lion's share of year-round schools, but an out-of-court settlement includes moving schools to a more traditional school year.

The February 2005 speech by Jones, who now sits on the NAYRE board, is frightening for all the things it says between the lines and how in fits the larger corporate trend of demanding longer workdays and workweeks--moves all designed to limit the number of jobs, lower wages and avoid costs of paying health and other benefits incurred to expand a workforce.

http://susanohanian.org/show_commentary.php?id=316

PBS NEWSHOUR, 2001 - Several years ago, many Texas districts adopted year-round calendars, but nearly half switched back. School officials said the program did not improve academic performance substantially, and they were unable to win the cooperation of parents; it was simply too hard to fight tradition.

By contrast, the Oxnard, California school district has a long record of successful year-round schooling. It has been on a year-round calendar since 1976, and a nine-year analysis shows significantly improved test scores, without changing the basic education program.

Of course, academic performance is not the only concern of school districts. By switching to a year-round schedule on a multi-track system (with several groups of students rotating), some overcrowded districts avoided the expense of building new schools - even when you take into account increased maintenance costs and higher pay for teachers.

Critics challenge the idea that year-round schedules improve grades, and have raised other concerns as well. Especially for multi-track districts, the scheduling issues can harm families.

For example, a family with kids in different schools operating on different tracks could have a tough time scheduling day care or family vacations.

And sports teams in competing districts could have a different schedule, so athletes may have games scheduled during breaks. If you participate in sports in a multi-track school, other team members may be on a different track, which would make it very hard for everyone to coordinate practice times.

Some students worry that they couldn't attend summer camp, although most students could still go to a camp of some type during their summer inter-session.

To offset these headaches, supporters of year-round schools recommend single-track systems as much as possible, and say that all schools within a district should try to adhere to the same schedule.

Many school districts have adopted year-round schooling only in the elementary schools since most students have more complicated schedules as they get older. Also, older students have a harder time adjusting to such a radical change, since they are accustomed to long summer breaks.

Many high school students worry that they would not be able to take a summer job, earning the income to either make ends meet or to afford extra things like clothes or CDs.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/features/july-dec01/year-round.html

SUMMER MATTERS - "It is absurd to suggest that children aren't learning during the summer. It's a different type of learning, which simply is not tested." - Dr. Leo Wisenbender, Los Angeles Unified Program and Evaluation Branch, 1994. . .

Summer matters to childhood growth and development, family relationships and traditions, learning and enrichment opportunities, the economy of seasonal communities. . .

When school districts impose calendar reforms that shrink summer vacation they rob children of learning experiences that are critical to healthy development. . . Over the last three decades, calendar changes have been slipped into many communities with little or no discussion, often through incremental changes each year that push school start dates into mid-summer.

But mounting evidence against year-round school and its education detriments is forcing policy-makers to back away from school calendar change. This may explain the aggressive tone by a school calendar change agent in a speech at the annual convention (2005) of the National Association of Year-Round Education, a year-round school advocacy group. The NAYRE board member advises end-justifies-the-means approaches to force communities on a year-round calendar, including bait-and-switch tactics and pounding opponents hard.

The speaker, Dr. John Hodge Jones, recommends little children attend school on shifts, like factory workers, in an interview with a Tennessee newspaper. He is the same man who chaired a national study committee on time and learning which produced the federally funded Prisoner's of Time studies in 1994. Curiously, Tennessee has been slow to adopt a calendar Jones has pushed, as has another prominent politician from that state, former Gov. Lamar Alexander, who as U.S. Secretary of Education for President Bush 41 promoted school calendar change. But Tennessee residents have fiercely resisted. . .

California, which has been a barometer state for education trends and has led the nation in year-round school experiments, is returning to the traditional school calendar as quickly as possible.

There also has been a voter rebellion against year-round school calendars in Texas, which became the second largest year-round school state in the nation while George W. Bush was governor. Year-round school experiments were part of school reforms recommended by his father, President Bush 41, resulting in a wave of calendar experiments in the 1990s, which were also supported by Lamar Alexander, his education secretary. Multi-track calendars were recommended by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in 2003 to address a voter mandate for class-size reduction.

Year-round school was conspicuously absent from the 2004 Democratic Party Platform. The 2000 platform encouraged more experiments with schools of choice, charter schools and year-round schools. While charter schools and school choice remained in the 2004 platform, year-round school was dropped.

A recent study by the Nevada Department of Education found children at year-round schools scored lower on high-stakes tests. The stop-and-start year-round calendar not only breaks learning continuity, it actually robs children of instructional days, according to a Nevada Department of Education study. . .

The National Association for Year-Round Education, the prime promoter of year-round school, is one of the preferential "links" on the Education Industry Association's page of "links"--on a list of "Related Education/Political Organizations" that include private school, charter school and other groups that want public schools privatized. . . Board members of the Education Industry Association are heavy with those who hope to profit by dismantling public education and privatizing it.

In their list of strategies for implementing year-round school, the National Association For Year-Round Education warns school district policymakers to limit informational meetings to small groups, which limits exposure to the negatives on the year-round calendar.

"We advise districts not to start out with a large meeting at the onset. All it does is give a few people a large forum in which to voice their complaints," said the coordinator of the Florida's year-round school pilot program in Marion County, Florida. "If we had to do it over, we would not have held a large general meeting in the beginning and instead have held smaller group meetings. It was the worst thing we ever did." . . .

A 6-page article in the 16-page fall 1993 quarterly newsletter of the National Association For Year-round Education, focused on the political strategy. The article, "Making it Happen: How to Handle the Politics of Year-Round Education," was written by Patrick McDaniel, who was in the embarrassing position of seeing his own Albuquerque, New Mexico, school district cut a large segment of its year-round schools as he served as NAYRE president in 1993. . .

It is important to understand that the business community and the nation's powerbrokers, which are powerful influences over and fund both political parties, are applying pressure for school calendar change to school boards, school superintendent, school administrators, principals and teachers across the nation--and especially the politicians who make policies for public schools. They provide funding for organizations that produce reports in favor of school calendar tinkering. . .

The Business Round Table, an organization of CEOs from the nation's largest corporations, has made a longer school year and school day part of its school reform agenda. . .
Some see such a move as a means to provide a babysitting infrastructure in schools, which will make it easier for corporations to demand longer workdays and workweeks. Corporations increase profits by working employees longer and harder because they avoid paying benefit packages of new hires. . . Could it be that year-round school is an incremental move toward longer workweeks for all Americans?

http://www.summermatters.com/

YEAR ROUND LINKS
http://www.auburn.edu/~enebasa/html/links.pp.html