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Katherine Bradley funding Dunn deal

The private funds that DCPS officials said would be used to hire former Obama White House communications director Anita Dunn will come from philanthropist Katherine Bradley, Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee told the D.C. Council Monday. Bradley is donating $100,000 through the D.C. Public Education Fund, the non-profit set up by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to handle private contributions to school reform.

The Post reported Friday that Rhee had reached out to Dunn, one of the Washington's most accomplished Democratic media consultants, to help tell the school reform story more effectively. Rhee said that she and Dunn first spoke about a year ago, and that after she left her White House post in November, she and her firm, Squier Knapp Dunn, began advising DCPS on a pro bono basis.

"We've had a lot of challenges as it relates to our communications," Rhee said, adding that positive developments in the school system don't receive the attention they deserve. "We can't always rely on the media to pick up on and be interested in those things."

Bradley, the wife of Atlantic Media owner David Bradley, has been active in educational philanthropy for years. She is president of the CityBridge Foundation, which funds reform-oriented pilot programs around the District. She also has helped launch Strong Schools DC, a grassroots group that supports Rhee's program.

Bradley, who co-hosted an engagement party in January for Rhee and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, said she was "thrilled" that the chancellor was taking on some help.

"I see it as a personal contribution and investment in the school system," she said Monday. "This is an issue she's been chasing for a long time."
Bradley said she viewed the $100,000 as something "to get the project going," and expressed the hope that others would also step up.

By Washington Post editors  |  March 22, 2010; 7:20 PM ET
 
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Comments

Lipstick on a pig. What a waste of money that could help children.

Posted by: qazqaz | March 22, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Free, uncritical media from The Atlantic, WPost editorial board, FastCompany, Education Next, Newsweek, Eduwonk, AndersonCooper360 isn't cutting it?


"Bradley said she viewed the $100,000 as something "to get the project going," and expressed the hope that others would also step up."


Where can we contribute?
;)

Posted by: edlharris | March 22, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

I was just up at the grocery store and I glanced through Washingtonian Magazine.
They had an article dealing with the Fenty Administration.
Under Michelle Rhee, they wrote "appears to have raised test scores."

A year ago, that statement would not have been qualified with "appears."

Posted by: edlharris | March 22, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Thing is, Ed, most people will not notice the word "appears." But who knows, the bloom is off the rose so much that maybe most people will not even bother to read the article.

Posted by: efavorite | March 22, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Is Bradley going to pay for Rhee’s wedding too?

This is quite a cozy deal. First, Bradley throws an engagement shower, then ponies up for one grand of media training. All for Michelle, ma belle.

What about THE CHILDREN?

Posted by: efavorite | March 22, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

If you go the Strong Schools DC website(http://www.strongschoolsdc.org/pages/index.html) you will see a couple of things:
1. It hasn't been updated in a year and a half.
2. They claim "We are now eagerly awaiting the completion of negotiations for a new contract. When an agreement is reached, we will be prepared to mobilize support for the contract and to continue our role as a pro-teacher community advocate and source of independent information."
3. They are not "grassroots" as Bill describes them, but astroturf.

If you go to the website of DC Public Education Fund (http://dceducationfund.org/), you can read this:
"DC Public Education Fund’s mission is to dramatically improve student achievement in the District of Columbia by serving as a strategic partner to businesses, foundations, community leaders, and individual donors in supporting and investing in high impact programs with the District of Cloumbia Public Schools."

Exactly how does spending $100,000 on PR to get the message out "dramatically improve student achievement in DC".
Is Squier Knapp Dunn hiring DCPS high schoolers to do the work?
Maybe they plan to turn Hardy student Miss Keller who described Michelle Rhee as Dolores Umbridge.
She certainly has an ear and pen for witty repartee'.

It also looks as though DC Education Fund is going to be used as a funding source for someone's re-election campaign.
(Nudge, nudge, wink, wink)

Posted by: edlharris | March 23, 2010 1:13 AM | Report abuse

Well, Ed, they're probably running through the $100,000 by holding strategy sessions on how to handle the Dolores Umbridge affair.

Should they co-opt the student over to their side with promises of a student leadership role in the new Hardy administration? Should they try to turn around the Umbridge image into something beneficial for the Chancellor? These are important issues for the future of DC education. Money is no object.

Posted by: efavorite | March 23, 2010 7:11 AM | Report abuse

Is Bradley going to pay for Rhee’s wedding too?
posted by efavorite:

This is quite a cozy deal. First, Bradley throws an engagement shower, then ponies up for one grand of media training. All for Michelle, ma belle.

What about THE CHILDREN?

efavorite, do you think for one minute that Ms. Bradley, her foundation or Michelle Rhee care at all about the children who attend D.C. public
schools? I don't think they do. I also think that allowing a personal friend to pay for the chancellor's PR flack smells like three day fish.

Posted by: sanderling5 | March 23, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Running the $100K through the Education Fund is a perfectly reasonable way to handle a private donation to the DC Schools. It's why the fund was set up. As Councilmember Catania said at the hearing yesterday, PR is an area where the Chancellor could use an assist.

Posted by: horacemann | March 23, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Once again this action shows that Fenty's administration is a puppet for the rich. Ms. Rhee is their darling and they must protect her.

However, I feel this will not help but will only serve to turn off even more hard-working people and citizens of DC who have had to deal with this rude, incompetent, arrogant, and self-serving woman.

Fenty, I know you have no shame for what you are doing to this city but your role as a pawn for rich folks is really telling. You are not in charge of anything and your role as a front is becoming more obvious everyday. You do not care about white folks, black folks, yellow or red folks. The only thing that matters to you is money. I wonder where your friends are stashing your cash.

Ms. Rhee has taken control of the city government.

Posted by: fmurray20011 | March 23, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Sanderling - no, of course I don't think Bradley or Dunn or Rhee care about the children.

Horacemann - so Catania, a Rhee supporter, said she could use PR assistance. This is further evidence that this is talking point #1: "Even her supporters think she needs some help communicating" or "communication is not her strong suit" The implication being that it's her only fault, a minor one, and should not be allowed to interfere with her larger, noble agenda, which is ???

I wonder how much of the $100,000 was eaten up developing that gem. I can't wait for the next one.

Posted by: efavorite | March 23, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

It was clear from all the Council Members' comments that better communications would help even if there was disagreement on the underlying message. That's not a talking point, it's obvious; and it's not a minor issue. One may or may not like what the Chancellor is doing generally or specifically with a certain school or program, but to date her articulation of rationales, reasons or results has been hamstrung either by her unwillingness or inability to explain them in a manner that resonates even with her supporters. Given the intractability of the status quo mentality in the District, perhaps her approach was understandable, but, clearly the hiring of Dunn is a recognition that the "I don't care whether people understand what I'm doing" approach is changing.

Posted by: horacemann | March 23, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

"the hiring of Dunn is a recognition that the "I don't care whether people understand what I'm doing" approach is changing."

But Squier Knapp Dunn, has been advising DCPS on a pro bono basis.

Posted by: edlharris | March 23, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

DCPS is hiring Master Educators:
Some specs:
Salary: $90,000 plus benefits
Term: Full time with one month off during the summer
http://dcps.dc.gov/DCPS/mastereducators

Posted by: edlharris | March 23, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

"Given the intractability of the status quo mentality in the District, perhaps her approach was understandable, but, clearly the hiring of Dunn is a recognition that the "I don't care whether people understand what I'm doing" approach is changing."

Horacemann - Thank you for expanding on talking point #1.

Certainly you know that developing talking points is what communications consultants do, don't you?

There's nothing underhanded or untoward about it. They are members of a respectable profession who are doing their job. They settle on a few talking points and then drive them home. Defending the need for a public school leader chancellor to hire a communication consultant is the first talking point. I completely understand their decision to proceed in this manner.

Posted by: efavorite | March 23, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

A good spin doctor can be a master manipulator. They can make an unknown incompetent appear capable, knowledgeable, articulate and experienced. Sadly, most people will never know it's just window dressing. Watch for an "extreme make-over" DC Style of Ms. Rhee.

Posted by: highquality4kids | March 23, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Turque,

Does anyone else comment on this blog? The anti-Rhee crowd's chorus is becoming tired, old and stale.

Posted by: kelly5612 | March 23, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

kelly5612 | March 23, 2010 2:06 PM

You must be new to this blog. I think the Rhee patrol is out of town or sleeping. But just wait--the editorial page of the WP and Obama WH will soon step in and give your girl much support.

If you think the anti-Rhee crowd is becoming boring, how in the world do you stand the bull coming from Rhee's supporters?

Finally, you can always stop reading this blog as I do on occasion when I start to feel that this situation is too much and the Rhee supporters are on the defense and/or attack.

Please speak your mind. Do not just complain about the posters.

Posted by: fmurray20011 | March 23, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Kelly 5612 arrives on the scene to save DC Schools Insider from going stale with what sounds like Talking Point #2:

"The Anti-Rhee chorus is old, tired, stale. Let's switch to the new! energetic! fresh chorus of the re-booted, remodeled Rhee!

Highquality4kids says, “A good spin doctor can be a master manipulator”

Absolutely right and Dunn has her work cut out for her in a city where Rhee has lost the active support of thousands since she arrived, (including me) not just by her prickly manner, but because of the things she’s done – in some cases personally, to a lot of citizens.

We can watch closely and counterbalance the spinning attempts. Remember, even a really good lawyer can lose the case if they have a really guilty client. The same goes for spin doctors.

Posted by: efavorite | March 23, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

There seems to be no disagreement here at all--Ms. Rhee made a good decision to seek outside assistance to help with her communications efforts. Both those supporting her work and those opposed will now be able to craft their arguments based upon better talking points.

Posted by: horacemann | March 23, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Nice try, horacemann - donating $100,000 to helping Rhee dig herself out of her communications hole is not a good decision by the standards of many citizens who truly care about children's interests.

If "there's really no disagreement here at all" is Talking Point #3, it really is rather weak.

Posted by: efavorite | March 23, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Efavorite, don't you have a job? Or is this it??

Posted by: kelly5612 | March 23, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Maybe someone will tell her (I did later via email but it didn't seem to sink in) that it's not a good idea to laugh or smile when you're explaining to angry Hardy parents that you're removing their principal. People attending the Hardy PTA meeting picked up on that really quickly and some remarked that she was only laughing when she talked to the African-American parents. It was not well received.

How is it that she hasn't figured out that this is a bad idea? This is Presentation 101 for women leaders. Maybe an experienced PR professional can get it through her head.

Posted by: oldmh | March 23, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

"E" -- no sense of humor at all. $100K is a critical expenditure to ensure that the tremendous progress made by Ms. Rhee is not undercut by poor communications or a "communications hole." The 100K is not taxpayer money. Ms. Bradley seems to be able to afford it and I'm glad she chose to spend it this way even if the donation is only supported by citizens who seem to care about children's interests, but don't "truly care."

Posted by: horacemann | March 23, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Did any of the $100,000 go to kelly5612?


I think I remember reading in my high school history book that the view over in England back in the 1770s was the colonists were perpetual anti-GeorgeIII-ists.

Posted by: edlharris | March 23, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

horacemann,
I looked up the website of DC Education Fund and it did read as edlharris said:

"DC Public Education Fund’s mission is to dramatically improve student achievement in the District of Columbia by serving as a strategic partner to businesses, foundations, community leaders, and individual donors in supporting and investing in high impact programs with the District of Columbia Public Schools."

So as was written, how does spending $100,000 from that fund "dramatically improve student achievement"?

kelly5612 might know.
She/he seems to have an inside track to the dough.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | March 23, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Kelly5612 asks, “Efavorite, don't you have a job? Or is this it??

[Classic communications consulting tactic: discredit your opponents.]

Kelly, take your pick. I am:

- a homeless person with a wacky anti-Rhee fixation who uses free computers at public libraries

- an unemployed communications consultant with an interest in public education

- five different people using the same moniker, giving us plenty of time to lead normal lives

- something else I haven’t thought of because I’m not creative enough, suggesting that I’m not an unemployed communication consultant after all.

Thanks for asking. How about you?

Posted by: efavorite | March 23, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm disappointed that other Squier Knapp & Dunn clients, such as the Maine Education Association, SEIU National and others sit by meekly as Anita Dunn participates in Michelle Rhee's union-bashing, union-busting campaign.

I guess SEIU-1199, the NYC local, has already accomodated itself to the firm's work for NY Mayor Bloomberg, a Rhee booster and teachers' union basher.

I guess that explains why DCPS officials were under orders--no doubt from DUNN!--to assert her work was to help announce the upcoming union contract, and nothing more (a $100,000 press release entitled "We have a contract").

Feh! This Dunn, Arne Duncan, and a whole host of other Democrats have gone over to the other side in choosing to support a brand of school "reform" that begins and ends with belittling the contributions of urban school teachers. To hell with all of them.

Posted by: Trulee | March 23, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Bradley can donate her money as she chooses. What I find appalling is the buying and selling of D.C. Perhaps Mrs. Bradley and the "others" she hopes will join her will provide money to community building events because at the rate things are going, I fear that the racial and class divide will become to large to bridge and our children will be the biggest losers.

Posted by: dcparkmom | March 23, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

To Trulee: Please don't be upset that DCPS management and school systems everywhere do not kowtow to unions the way they used to. Only 7 percent of all US workers are union (much higher percentage in the public sector, of course). Unions only want 2 things: better compensation and job security. We already pay top dollar, and til recently, it was almost impossible to be canned. And from the Mayor and Council, Rhee has orders--from the District's citizens you might say--for the teachers to put the kids first, not themselves. That seems to infuriate some teachers and commenters on this blogue. Many teachers are infuriated at the idea of being measured and believe they have a lifetime job entitlement. Just about no one in the country has such security. We want teachers to strive to improve, or move. The teachers have the kind of union they deserve, but it will not protect them from themselves.

Posted by: axolotl | March 24, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

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