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Reinoso Says Funding for School Study Intact

The Fenty Administration says that it has, in fact, not cut funding for an independent evaluation of public school reform. When we inquired about this on Monday, mayoral spokeswoman Mafara Hobson referred us to city administrator Neil Albert's testimony that day before the D.C. Council, which said nothing about the evaluation.

At the same time, Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray's office had pointed us to the mayor's revised version of the Budget Support Act, in which the following provision was marked deleted: "The Office of the Chief Financial Officer shall transfer by October 5, 2009, an amount of $325,000 in local funds through an intra-District transfer from DCPS to the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor to contract with NRC to conduct the initial evaluation required by this section."

But deputy mayor for education Victor Reinoso said today that the funding wasn't cut and that the $325,000 -- the District's 20 percent contribution to the cost of the study to be conducted by the NRC (National Research Council)--is sitting in the auditor's budget.

Moreover, Reinoso said that the administration is completely on board with the project, which was set up by Gray after the council failed to act on Fenty's recommendation of two education scholars to study the reform efforts of Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee --Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute and Kenneth Wong of Brown University. The 2007 legislation placing the mayor in charge of schools requires Fenty to produce an outside study, but Gray said he had questions about putting the study solely in the hands of Hess and Wong. Hess has written favorably about Rhee, while Wong is an established proponent of mayoral control of school systems.

Reinoso, Rhee, Gray and acting state superintendent Kerri Briggs are all scheduled to attend a planning meeting Monday at the NRC, which operates under the auspices of the National Academies.

"We intend to fully cooperate," said Reinoso, adding that he did not expect the mayor's office to be sending other names to the council.

As it turns out, Wong is listed as a participant in Monday's discussion at the NRC. This time, however, he's one of a panel of six scholars. The others are Carmen Arroyo of Health and Education Research Associates; Robert Boruch, the University of Pennsylvania; Leslie Fenwick, Howard University; Jeff Henig, Columbia University, and Ernest House, University of Colorado.

Bill Turque

By Bill Turque  |  July 24, 2009; 6:36 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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Comments

I hope this evalaution considers the continuing decline in DCPS enrollment, which is NOT due exclusively to charters. Families are choosing to leave DC rather than attend DCPS. Fenty -- isn't it more important to retain residents rather than protecting DCPS and Rhee from competition from charters? Why not actively promote the creation of more charters and charter-like schools, using the ample space in existing schools? Shouldn't all families have access to a school of their choice, even if it's a charter or private school? After all, you're excercising choice for your kids, why not extend that to all residents and their children? Aren't you the Mayor for ALL kids and ALL families? Just a few thoughts.

Posted by: dcgovtruth | July 24, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

dcgovtruth,

Creating more charter schools in DC is not the answer. Charter schools can force requirements on parents to keep their children enrolled in school. This weeds out parents who are not involved or have serious problems. They can close enrollment at a any point in the year. They can kick out or counsel out students and send them to their local public school. They do not have to provide special ed services for severely disabled students. They do not have to accept students who live near the school.

They have a lot of freedom and flexibility that public schools just can't have because the law says public schools and not charter schools have to educate all children.

More charter schools are not the answer. We need to use the limited resources we have to improve the public schools which are burdened with much more responsibilities than charters. We have enough charter schools in DC for those who want to enroll their children.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | July 24, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Continue keeping a close eye on that illusive research budget and the study that is supposed to follow from it. The Chancellor is skilled at hiding data that isn’t flattering to her administration. Her efforts are detectable through the objective, non-judgmental writing of the recent GAO report on DCPS. The following is from page 33 (or p. 37 of the pdf file http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09619.pdf):

“[44] DCPS conducted a telephone survey and polled 500 parents to assess their satisfaction with their school and the school district as a whole. Parents were asked for feedback on such issues as school safety, quality of instruction, communication, and the level of parental engagement in the decision-making process. The student survey was a voluntary, written survey to assess student views about school safety, services, leadership (principals, teachers, and staff), and instructional practices.

[45] DCPS officials told us they experienced problems with the vendor, such as missed deadlines and incomplete and incorrect data. They also told us several times during the course of our work that they were expecting the data; however, each time the vendor failed to deliver.”
_________

The “vendor ate our data” is not an acceptable response from a public servant (That’s you, Ms. Chancellor) whose responsibility it is to present public data, not repress it or distort it, as she is doing with the DC-CAS scores.

Posted by: efavorite | July 25, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Interesting comment coming from the Deputy Mayor for Education. " We fully intend to cooperate" Did that mindset come after the funds were slashed from his office's budget, which basically deemed his position unecessary?

Posted by: candycane1 | July 25, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Very interesting the timing of the decision to continue with the funding for the independent study: just after the Senate Subcommittee hearing. Amazing ...

Posted by: southyrndiva | July 25, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

To Bill Turque - how about doing a Freedom of Information request on that research project mentioned in the GAO Report. Check communications between the vendor and DCPS. Find out who the vendor is. (You can get that info on your own.) Get contract and payment information. Government vendors have responsibilities, as do government clients. If the vendor got paid, the report should be completed and be available for release.

Posted by: efavorite | July 26, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

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