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Fenty hammers Gray on education at debate

Washington Post Editors

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who has tried to gain traction in his campaign with humilty and by attacking his main opponent's record, stayed on message during a debate Tuesday night, focusing on the progress the city's schools have made under him and Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.

Earlier Tuesday, officials had learned that the Obama administration had awarded the District and Maryland $325 million in an education reform competition. During the announcement Education Secretary Arne Duncan praised Fenty and Rhee.

During the Tuesday night debate at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, Fenty hammered at Council Chairman Vincent Gray's repeated refusal to say whether he would keep Rhee if elected mayor. "Yes or no? Yes or no?" Fenty asked.

Gray refused to respond and reminded Fenty that the mayor had refused to say whether he would keep then-police chief Charles Ramsey when he was running in 2006.

Fenty argued that the 2006 scenario differed and clarified his comment then, saying he had said he would not "announce" an appointment at that time. Fenty's response drew some boos and yet another rebuttal from Gray. Fenty also was jeered during his closing statement when he went back to the issue of Rhee.

But overall, Fenty was at ease during the debate that gave each candidate 10 minutes for an opening statement and three minutes to answer questions. Fenty, having won a coin toss to go first, set the tone by getting up from behind a table to address the crowd of nearly 1,000 people. He looked more like a CEO addressing a group of shareholders as he talked about the tough decisions that came with school reform and other tasks as mayor.

Gray used the stage as a pulpit, rousing the crowd like a Sunday morning preacher.

The forum, sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council, began with few surprises and standard answers to questions about making the
city more environmentally friendly, increasing the city's living wage, luring Israeli companies to the District.

The crowd laughed each time the candidates passed on rebuttals. But Fenty jumped up after Gray answered a topical question on the mayor's petition to the Board of Elections and Ethics to allow unaffiliated voters to register same-day as Democrats.

"I don't support this change at all," Gray said. "Frankly, I'm willing to bank my election on the electorate that already exists."

And Gray noted that Fenty had blocked council legislation this summer that would have prohibited vote-buying. Fenty has said the council should not have been approving legislation that would affect an election in which current members were running. Gray cast Fenty as hypocritical for now petitioning the elections board. "I would like to rebut," Fenty said assuredly with a smile on his face.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the debate has begun," moderator Scott Thuman said.

By Nikita Stewart  |  August 25, 2010; 9:37 AM ET
Categories:  2010 District Election  | Tags: dc mayoral candidates, dc mayors race, fenty campaign  
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Comments

Adrian Fenty please disappear. No one likes you.

Posted by: Ward4DC | August 25, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

So Fenty gets heaps of praise because he appeared prepared at one forum? Three weeks before the election? And he looks like a CEO? From this I get the message only that Fenty knows how to look like a CEO but not how to actually BE one. Everyone knows this about Fenty so it is going to change no ones mind.

The money and the praise from the Feds is just not enough to make everyone fall in love with Fenty all over again.

Posted by: tacard1 | August 25, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

So Fenty gets heaps of praise because he appeared prepared at one forum? Three weeks before the election? And he looks like a CEO? From this I get the message only that Fenty knows how to look like a CEO but not how to actually BE one. Everyone knows this about Fenty so it is going to change no ones mind.

The money and the praise from the Feds is just not enough to make everyone fall in love with Fenty all over again.

Posted by: tacard1 | August 25, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Fenty is grasping for straws and coming up empty, just like his intellectually and politically bankrupt tenure as mayor.

Posted by: linroy62 | August 25, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Student test scores in DC has improved for six consecutive years under Mayor Anthony Williams and then continued to improve for two mores years after Adrian Fenty took office. But recently test scores have dropped almost 5% and DC schools still are the absolute lowest in the USA.

Fenty, you are a crook and full of BS. I look forward to Mayor Gray cleaning up your mess!

Posted by: ashafer_usa | August 25, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Can someone please enlighten me about Fenty's insistence that Gray answer the question about Rhee? I agree with Gray: Fenty didn't answer it about Ramsey 4 years ago so what gives him the right to insist Gray answer it about Rhee?

Besides, Rhee is doing a terrible job. Test scores have been rising in DCPS for the past decade. After 3 years of Rhee--which is now when we are seeing the fruits of her labors--the test scores declined and the achievement gap widened. Is everyone else ignoring this but me and a few others who comment here on WaPo?

Besides, this election is so much more than Michelle Rhee. I can't stand all the talk about her in this election. It's just more fuel for her over-inflated ego. If anyone's paying close attention, then they should notice she's not doing such a great job.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 25, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

The coverage of Fenty by the Post continues to mostly look like a big wet kiss on his behind. You endorsed him - enough already.

Posted by: mjvdc | August 25, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Fenty nor Ms. Rhee could not explain that ME, a parent, of an Eastern HS student who suffered the indignities of being house in trailers, much like slave quarters when the school was being remodeled just last year. And now, today, Wilson HS students are being sent to a college campus to continue their educational growth and experiences. Why, when Eastern SHS PTSA asked for the same consideration for our students was the offer not accepted. Say what you will, this is racially motivated; black children in this city are not given the same educational considerations at white children in affluent neighborhoods in Washington DC.

Posted by: lacairaine | August 25, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

@lacairaine:

Wrong. Stop playing the victim. "Much like slave quarters..." Really? Kids in Fairfax and Prince George's also have to learn in trailers.

Eastern was disbanded because it didn't meet AYP. No Child Left Behind guidelines said that it HAD to start over since it wasn't providing students with a quality education. Wilson, OTOH, met AYP. And by the way, half of Wilson's students are black.

Get over yourself and stop playing the race card. It doesn't work anymore.

Posted by: mikecapitolhill | August 25, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Hey, half of Wilson isn't Black, they are only using those out-of-school boundaries students for financial gain! After the new remodeling we will kick those unwanted kids to the curb. Oh, Wilson did't meet AYP but the financial gain was more beneficial for reconstruction. After hiring BCC Bethesda Chevy Chase former leadership, Wilson will be BRAND-NEW and all undesirable will be gone. New enrollments procedures will be put in place, like Walls, Duke Ellington and Banneker; hey you can't take the building back after its build but you can change enrollment. We can't keep sending kids to private schools during this rough economic time, when we have nice public schools like Wilson & Deal model #1 schools mark my words change will come! All for education reform! Say Rhee and Fenty....

Posted by: drfields | August 25, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

@mikecapitol hill:

Wilson did not make AYP either. Anyone could easily research this here: http://www.nclb.osse.dc.gov/aypreports.asp I suggest you start doing some research before defending Rhee so much.

Posted by: DesperatelySeekingReform | August 26, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

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