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DeMorning DeBonis: June 3, 2010

TODAY IS JUNE 3, 2010 -- 104 103 DAYS UNTIL PRIMARY DAY

It wasn't even close: D.C. public schoolteachers voted overwhelmingly to ratify the landmark teacher contract -- 1,412 votes to 425, according to the tally conducted by independent auditors yesterday. Bill Turque reports on A1 Thursday that the deal "dramatically expands Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's ability to remove poor educators, and places D.C. on a growing list of cities and states that have established classroom results, not seniority, as the standard by which teachers are judged." The contract should have no trouble as it moves to the D.C. Council for approval -- I mean, what politician do you know who would vote against raising teacher pay 20 percent? Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, for one, was quick to say he'd move the contract swiftly through. It's a big win for Washington Teachers' Union President George Parker, who now turns his attention to getting reelected to another five-year term.

AFTER THE JUMP -- more teacher contract reaction -- sparks fly between Fenty and Gray at D.C. for Democracy forum -- behind the South Cap drive-by -- Nickles nixes forum's public school venue --- check-cashers come back at Cheh

*** MAIN COURSE ***

WHAT'S IN THE DEAL -- According to Turque's report: "The contract, the product of nearly 2 1/2 years of contentious negotiations that required intervention by a mediator, combines a rich traditional financial package with unorthodox initiatives historically resisted by unionized teachers. It includes a five-year, 21.6 percent increase in base pay that will boost the average annual salary of a D.C. educator from $67,000 to about $81,000, and gives the city's public school teachers salaries comparable to those in surrounding suburban districts, according to a union survey. A new voluntary performance pay program to begin this fall could add $20,000 to $30,000 to teachers' salaries, based on significant improvement in student test scores and other yet-to-be specified criteria. Under the system, to be financed for the first three years by private foundations, total compensation for some top-rated instructors could reach $140,000, officials estimate. ... The pact -- in tandem with a new teacher evaluation system launched by Rhee this year -- will also dilute the power of instructors to set the terms of their employment. It allows principals to use job performance, instead of seniority, as the chief determinant when reducing staff due to declining enrollment or program changes. Under the 'mutual consent' clause, displaced teachers who used to be assigned to new schools -- whether principals wanted them or not -- will no longer be guaranteed spots in the system and must find administrators willing to take them."

COMMENT -- From Rhee: "I am very pleased with the contract. ... It strikes a great balance between making teachers understand that we very much value and support the work they do every day and on the administrative side giving us the tools we need to staff the schools effectively." From AFT President Randi Weingarten: "At the end of the day, this is still one of the industrial model contracts where a lot of the authority is reposed in the chancellor herself." And WTU General Vice President Nathan Saunders, opposing for the presidency, calls the contract "blood money" -- referring to the teachers axed last fall.

BIG PICTURE -- "While the contract they produced breaks new ground for D.C., the extraordinary pace of change in national education policy has in some ways overtaken their work," Turque reports. "When negotiations started in late 2007, the concepts embedded in Rhee's contract and evaluation proposals -- performance pay linked to test score growth, mutual consent, weakening of seniority and tenure -- were still politically polarizing issues on the margins of the national debate. While Weingarten and Rhee hammered away at the bargaining table, these ideas were swept into the mainstream by the Obama administration. Its 'Race to the Top' grant competition encourages states to revamp their laws to incorporate some of these ideas."

BOB McCARTNEY's TAKE -- "Does the new pact mean Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and the Washington Teachers' Union are now partners, however wary, in pushing forward comprehensive school reform? If the answer is yes, then the District should see real cooperation between Rhee and teachers to address chronic problems of student disorder, unequal distribution of resources and teacher training. ... However, if Rhee and the union return to being bitter adversaries, then the outlook for the District's schools is murkier. Problems with discipline and similar issues would surely persist. Mistrust between labor and management would lead to repeated confrontations over personnel, evaluations and merit pay. The District's children would suffer most."

POST EDITORIAL -- "[R]ather than an ending, the labor pact -- which still must be approved by the D.C. Council -- represents what could be a beginning in building and retaining a more effective teaching force. That's a credit to the tenacity of [Rhee] and also to the willingness of the union's rank and file to embrace her aggressive but common-sense reforms. ... The generous pay provisions in the contract unfortunately have engendered resentment in some parts of the charter school community, where there is a belief that charter schools are slighted when public money is apportioned. We were glad to hear charter school leaders recently distance themselves from talk of possible legal action to upend the contract; the reforms embodied in the pact are too important to become subject to a turf battle. Charter leaders are right, though, to point to inequities in how funds are appropriated, particularly for facilities."

ALSO -- Examiner, WaTimes, WUSA-TV, WAMU-FM

IN OTHER EDUCATION NEWS -- The District has signed on to national common core standards for math and reading, joining Maryland and numerous other states, Nick Anderson reports in The Post today.

***

FORUM FOLLIES -- Last night, Democratic candidates of all stripes gathered at One Judiciary Square for a forum hosted by progressive organizing group D.C. for Democracy. Tim Craig reports on the sparks among the mayoral candidates: "The mayor had a vexed look on his face during much of the forum as he fumbled with his BlackBerry. ... Appearing alongside Gray and Leo Alexander, also a candidate for the Democratic nomination, [Adrian Fenty] defended his record and tried to raise doubts about his opponents' leadership ability. In response to a question from the moderator, Gray and Alexander criticized the Fenty administration's record on affordable housing. Fenty hit back. 'As you can tell, the gentleman on my left and the gentleman on my right are really big critics,' Fenty said, referring to Gray and Alexander. 'If we were electing a chief critic for the District of Columbia, I would probably recommend either of them. But we are electing a chief executive officer and that means we need someone who can get things done.' Fenty, reading from a BlackBerry handed to him by an aide, then named nearly a dozen housing projects that he said he pushed to completion, resulting in about 11,000 affordable units." Also, Ann Marimow looks at the economic-development one-upmanship between chair contenders Kwame Brown and Vincent Orange. More here later. And do see coverage of Tuesday night's TENAC forum from City Paper's Lydia DePillis.

MUST READ -- Very proud to now be working in the same room as Paul Duggan, who weaves an enthralling, heartbreaking tale of how costume jewelry and adolescent rage birthed the weeks-long spasm of revenge and death that culminated in the March drive-by shooting on South Capitol Street that killed three. Read this lead, then read the rest:

On the wrist of Sanquan "Bootsy" Carter, the bracelet looked like what it was: a band of cheap yellow metal, 1 5/8 inches wide, encrusted with scores of sparkly glass studs.

Just chintzy bling.

To its impetuous young owner, though, it was a dazzling bangle, and it would become a wellspring of violence and sorrow after it went missing one night while Bootsy partied in a Southeast Washington apartment.

Which is where the story begins.

It ends at South Capitol and Brandywine streets SE, just over a week later, March 30, in a burst of gunfire that jolted the city's conscience: a drive-by attack that killed three people, ages 16 to 19, and wounded six, including the only victim older than 20, shot in the head and still unconscious.

All of it off that bracelet.

TOUGH ON MENDO -- City Paper's Juliana Brint reports live from Tuesday night's Phil Mendelson-hosted public safety forum at Covenant Baptist Church in Congress Heights. Brint deems the crowd "none too friendly" to Mendo. For one thing, primary opponent Clark Ray and supporters were stationed outside, handing out fliers calling it "Another election year meeting in Ward 8." Inside, he was greeted by "70 victims' relatives, concerned community members, and anti-violence activists" -- including one Ron Moten, "who railed against Mendelson's harsh policies regarding PCP and his lenient stance on curfews" not to mention "Gray and Harry Thomas Jr. doling out money for anti-violence initiatives in what he described as an unethical manner."

CASHED OUT -- Operators of check-cashing outlets are pushing back against Mary Cheh-sponsored council legislation that would limit their fees, Alan Suderman reports in Examiner. The argument mirrors the one payday lenders made in 1997, when Cheh took aim at their high interest rates -- that "the move would force those companies out of the District and hurt the lower-income residents who rely on them." Capping rates at 2 percent, rather than the current 10 percent, said one check-cashing executive, "would require that ACE terminate its check cashing services in the District of Columbia resulting in a significant erosion of financial options available to District residents." And the D.C. Chamber's Barbara Lang "exhorted the council not to consider profits a 'four-letter' word." Said Cheh: "Profit is not a four-letter word, excessive profit is a four-letter word."

MAYORAL FORUM NICKLED -- Tonight, several Ward 3 neighborhood groups have sponsored a mayoral forum. It was originally scheduled to be held at Key Elementary School. Not anymore. Dorothy Brizill writes in this morning's edition of themail: "The sponsoring organizations had to change the location for the forum at the last minute when Attorney General Peter Nickles intervened and ruled that the civic organizations could not hold a candidates forum at a DC public school facility. ... The Attorney General's office complained that the organizers weren't including all the Democratic candidates for mayor, and implied that the meeting could be in violation of the federal Hatch Act and the District's campaign finance laws and regulations. ... On May 15, [Cheh] ... held her reelection campaign at a DCPS facility, Murch Elementary School. The May 15 event was a true partisan political event, while the June 3 candidates forum is essentially a civic meeting. In both instances, DCPS' Realty Office held that both events met DCPS's guidelines for the use of its facilities. So what explains Nickles' intervention to squelch the mayoral candidates' debate?"

STREETCAR SNAG -- Money may be in place to move ahead with the H Street/Benning Road streetcar line, but serious issues are left to be hashed out -- not least of which is a connection to Union Station. David Alpert at Greater Greater Washington reveals that DDOT's preferred option -- using an existing tunnel under the bridge that carries H Street over the Union Station rail yards -- is opposed by the tunnel's owner, Potomac Development Corp., which is "convinced that running streetcars through the H Street tunnel will unreasonably interfere with our use of said tunnel and the adjacent public space." Alpert notes: "When Phil Mendelson raised objections to the streetcar project, saying it has "no beginning and no end," he was partly talking about this issue. ... He makes a good point, and DDOT needs to work out these issues. However, it's not a reason to delay getting started on the entire streetcar project for years." Mendo, meanwhile, gave The Post a shout-out last night at the D.C. for Democracy candidates forum.

'COLORFUL RACE' -- The Informer looks at the Brown vs. Orange chairman tilt -- a battle "between two formidable opponents -- men who share the same overall vision for the District but differ greatly in terms of methods and tactics" -- in a piece with a noticeable pro-Kwame tilt. "While Orange has been praised for bringing more retail into the ward ... he was criticized for not affording residents an opportunity to voice their opinions on the projects." XM radio host Wilmer Leon has a smart read on the race: "I think both Vincent Orange and Kwame Brown are smart, articulate guys that understand the issues and what needs to be done. ... However, I think that Brown is going to win on sheer hustle. Vince Orange is not going to spend 12 hours a day in the streets and neighborhoods kissing babies and knocking on doors but Kwame definitely will."

*** SMALL PLATES ***

"Council member" or "councilman"? (Susie's Budget and Policy Corner)

Rhee spotted at jury duty! The chance was "seated as Juror No. 7 in a civil case (something to do with an elevator accident). Sleeveless black-and-white dress. The D.C. schools chief spent much of her waiting time glued to her BlackBerry, but broke into a smile when the judge joked about those jurors who were 'sitting there angst-ing.' " (Reliable Source)

D.C. Vote followed up its sit-in at the office of Senate Democrat and gun-bill sponsor Jon Tester (Mont.) with a visit to Rep. Travis Childers (D-Miss.). DCist's Martin Austermuhle deems this "getting aggressive." (DCist)

Informer editorializes on P.R. Harris transfer to UDC: "What the council did was purely a knee-jerk decision to accomplish what should be a strategic plan to provide greater education and workforce opportunities for District residents." (Informer)

City AIDS czar Shannon Hader participates in White House summit "on the impact of the AIDS virus on African American men" (Hearst)

A report from last week's Ward 6 Dems awards dinner. Honorees included Eleanor Holmes Norton, Stein Club President Jeff Richardson, and lawyer Don Dinan. (Informer)

On "blended" pre-K programs in the District (New America Foundation)

If Fenty can swim in the Potomac ... (Chicago Sun-Times)

Corporate synergy! Do check out The Post's new Daily Gripe -- which, like this blog, debuted yesterday -- where you can force your government to fix your problems. (Post)

Regional unemployment is down (Post)

In city real-estate news: With DCPS now out of 825 North Capitol Street, various arms of the health department will be moved into the building -- which, for some reason, will now be known as 899 North Capitol Street. (WBJ)

At-large council candidate Richard Urban explains the link between the Healthy Schools Act and sexual abstinence education (RUforDC.net)

Vince Gray rejoice: NCPC action means Fort Dupont baseball academy finally moves forward (Housing Complex)

Nickles hands the JBG Cos. an ultimatum on the convention-center hotel squabble: Settle this thing by Friday, or I'm taking you back to court. (WBJ)

DDOT "softens up" Georgetown ANC on streetcars (G'town Metropolitan)

In surprise move, Peebles Corp. drops out of bid for New York City slots parlor (Thoroughbred Times)

Name the new SmartBike (Examiner)

Ribbon is cut on Waterfront Station development; Southwesterners will soon enjoy a Subway, a Z-Burger, a dry cleaners and a new sit-down restaurant, in addition to Safeway and CVS. Not to mention offices for the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) and the Office of Planning! (Southwest ... the Little Quadrant That Could, WUSA-TV)

*** DESSERT ***

"Last week, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said that, in his view, Washington should get a Super Bowl. His comments came before owners voted to give a Super Bowl to New York/New Jersey. Eight days after the league opted for an open-air, cold-weather Super Bowl, Snyder continued to make his case for eventually playing the game in D.C. 'It's good. It's good for the Redskins, it's good for Washington,' Snyder said at the team's annual Charitable Foundation Scholarship Fund press conference. ... 'I don't think it'll be that long,' Snyder said. 'They'll be playing in New York in 2014, and they'll have a great experience there hopefully. And I think they'll be surprised by the weather too, it's not going to be a problem.' " Anyone else remember the weather this past Super Bowl Sunday? (Pro Football Talk)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Fenty to meet with Bob McDonnell, Martin O'Malley on Chesapeake Bay restoration -- Ward 3 neighborhood groups host mayoral forum at 7:30 p.m. at the Field School.

By Mike DeBonis  |  June 3, 2010; 11:10 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike , The District  | Tags: debonis  
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Comments

Alas, there will be more teaching students how to take tests than real teaching.

Posted by: linroy62 | June 3, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

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