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Council Selects Group for DCPS Study

The D.C. Council is looking to the research arm of the National Academies for an independent assessment of public school reform under Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.

This week's mark up of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's proposed budget sets aside $325,000 for the D.C. Auditor to hire the National Research Council (NRC), one of four non-profits that operate under the National Academies umbrella, along with the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine.

The NRC, founded in 1916, has an education division that has recently studied the impact of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards on student achievement (good) and the condition of high school science labs (not so good). It has also published reports on math education and standardized testing. A mission statement on its website says it is "committed to providing elected leaders, policy makers, and the public with expert advice based on sound scientific evidence."

Michael J. Feuer, the executive director of the NRC's division of behavioral and social sciences and education, was on hand at the D.C. Council's Wednesday press conference on mark ups. He was not available to comment today.

The NRC's selection ends, for the moment at least, the stalemate between Fenty and Chairman Vincent C. Gray over how Rhee's attempted overhaul of DCPS would be evaluated. The 2007 law establishing mayoral control of the school system requires Fenty to submit an annual appraisal, covering academic achievement, business practices and personnel policies. He could also skip the annual reports in favor of a five-year evaluation in Sept. 2012.

Last May, Gray and the Council rebuffed Fenty's selection of two education scholars because of questions about their independence. Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute had written favorably about Rhee. Kenneth Wong of Brown University has testified in favor of mayoral takeover of school systems. When Fenty didn't offer other candidates, Gray decided to step in.

Gray said he also had transparency issues with Fenty, who proposed that the study be paid by the D.C Education Fund, the mayor's vehicle for collecting private contributions to school reform. The fund, which has never offered a full disclosure of its contributors, has a board that includes New York City schools Chancellor Joel Klein, a friend and mentor of Rhee's.

A Gray aide said the NRC has promised full disclosure of funding sources. The $325,000 will cover about 20 percent of the total cost. The NRC will raise the rest from private sources.

An initial report may be available in about a year.
Bill Turque

By Bill Turque  |  April 29, 2009; 3:37 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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A YEAR? why does it take a year to complete a study of a two year program?

I hope there are going to be interim reports.

Posted by: efavorite | April 29, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

If the Mayor had worked with the Council in selecting mutually-agreeable evaluators, we'd have had two reports in already. Sheesh, the Deputy Mayor was 8 months late in recommending anyone! We'll finally learn how well the Chancellor is doing, independently!

Posted by: cleanconscience | April 29, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I can tell you how she is doing in less than a minute with little or no money --- HORRIBLE!

Posted by: wtf1 | April 29, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

There really is something wrong with the water in this city.

Posted by: adcteacher1 | April 29, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse


My sentiments exactly. LOL

Posted by: schooletal | April 29, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Finally someone on City Council is displaying leadership qualities! The NRC has a sound track record and will go into this endeavor with an independent, open mind.

Now . . .here's my question . . .what will the Council and the Mayor's office "do" with the findings?

Posted by: chrysj1996 | April 30, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

They're closing in on you Ms. Rhee. And it was inevitable. Think about it. You were so woefully unqualified to run a big city school system that a fairy tale had to be created around your 3-year stint in the classroom. You had your students sit in a circle and called it a transformative innovation. As the kids like to text these days, lol!

The people who were bankrolling your attack on the DC public schools are in deep distress as the economy worsens. Bill Gates lost $18 billion of his personal fortune this year and Eli Broad's economic well-being is tied to the collapsing housing market and AIG. They aren't as much interested in dabbling in public school destruction now. And they have begun to turn their backs on you. Never hear you talk about your two-tiered pay scale for teachers anymore. What, no financial backing for it?

Hopefully Chairman Gray and the Council's actions will become the beginning of the end of the farce that your tenure as Chancellor represents. It is long past time for you to go Ms. Rhee.

Posted by: natturner | April 30, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Natturner - you're right about the fairy tale, but unfortunately, Rhee believes it herself and has built her whole DC school reform around the idea that all it takes is "great teachers" (like her)to turn a school system around.

What's really troubling is that so many intelligent, supposedly reality-based people fell for this tall tale - right on the heels of the WMD fiasco. It will make for an interesting psychological study when it's over, which will hopefully be soon.

Posted by: efavorite | April 30, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

The architect of KIPP's expansion is a Houston businessman and "capitalist intellectual" adjunct professor at (White) Rice University, named Leo Linbeck III. Here are some blog posts he gave through the Belmont Club:

"The Taliban Certainly know, That Obama would sure like to go, So give him a push, Off the ol' Hindu Kush. They promise to send him some blow?" (dated March 7, 2009). "Its start was a home mortage bubble, which triggered some terrible trouble, Then along came Barack, and the rest of his flock, who turned the whole nation to rubble." (dated March 9, 2009)
"Your point about needing to repeal the sixteenth amendment is a good one." (october 27, 2008). "Bush fought a two front war: one front in Iraq; the other in the United States. He won the first and lost the second." (January 22, 2009). "In my experience, the education reform movement within a city is a tight club. Everyone knows everyone else, and they work closely together." (october 4, 2008). "But Obama, well he could go places Ayers couldn't go, win over people Ayers couldn't work with, champion issues Ayers couldn't champion. He was a tool." (october 4, 2008)

Posted by: JesseAlred | April 30, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

JesseAlred - please provide a link to the comments above, so I can verify them.


Posted by: efavorite | May 1, 2009 12:29 AM | Report abuse

efavorite, I have the verification. Send my an e-mail at There are a lot more comments where these came from. Thanks for your interest.

Posted by: JesseAlred | May 2, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

JesseAlfred - if you have verification, please post it online. It should be made public, not passed privately through emails.

When I googled some of your guotes, all I found was other blogs in which you posted the same information.

Posted by: efavorite | May 4, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

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