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DeMorning DeBonis: Sept. 22, 2010


Back to work yesterday for the D.C. Council: Ann Marimow highlights a new bill that would keep youth sports participants who show signs of concussion out of practices and games, similar to legislation embraced by nine states thus far. The Examiner's Freeman Klopott focuses on the council's approval of "national popular vote" legislation, which binds the District to hand its presidential electoral votes to the popular vote winner -- but not until 270 electoral votes are committed to the pact. With D.C., there's now 76 on board. (More on NPV from an advocate.) Ann details other actions, noting that "members attempted to resurrect several bills the mayor rejected during the recess in 'pocket vetoes.' Without discussion, the council unanimously approved a measure intended to block a settlement payment to one of the firms at the center of an ongoing special counsel investigation into parks and recreation renovation contracts. ... Separately, the council passed emergency legislation that would allow trustees of the University of the District of Columbia to operate with reduced membership because of the high number of vacancies on the university's board." Also: Union security guards protested a city security contract; Rep. Jose Serrano showed up to collect a ceremonial resolution; and the Union Station tax deal appears to be "dead as a dog" after Jack Evans blew up at the breakfast meeting about getting blamed for the deal.

AFTER THE JUMP -- Rhee tells Ed Week she was "very naive" -- Ravitch argues that mayoral control has done D.C. no favors -- could Fenty have been helped with ebonics lessons? -- why Vince Gray isn't Marion Barry -- feds grant $500K to NE schools program


VALEDICTORY ADDRESS? -- Michelle Rhee gives what sure seems like an exit interview to Education Week's Dakarai I. Aarons the day after the primary. "[T]he chancellor wouldn't say if she would work for [Adrian Fenty]'s likely successor, a man she campaigned against. But, looking back on her tenure so far, she said some of the most significant changes in Washington's public schools lie in the kinds of measures that don't make conflict-driven headlines. 'I don't think it was really thought of as a possibility even four years ago that you'd be able to walk into a lot of our elementary schools and your child would be able to learn Chinese or French or Spanish, or be in an [International Baccalaureate] program, and now those things are proliferating throughout the district,' she said. ... The chancellor acknowledged that the primary results in some part reflected the appetite -- or lack thereof -- for her brand of reform, but said she and Mayor Fenty have no regrets about the pace at which they pursued improvement. 'What a lot of people were thinking was it was too much, or too fast,' Ms. Rhee said of voters, whose selection of [Vincent Gray] as the party nominee makes him the presumptive next mayor of the nation's heavily Democratic capital city. 'But I think we can rest soundly at night knowing that we really believed that that sense of urgency was necessary. ... We didn't want to wait another day knowing that another D.C. child was not getting the education they deserve, so it was only the best intentions we had in terms of the pace of reform.' ... The chancellor said one of her mistakes early on was in how she communicated with the public. 'I sort of thought, "Well, OK, if we put our heads down and do the work, after two years we'll have great results, and everybody would be happy." That was very naive of me,' Ms. Rhee said." Do note: The Rhee-Gray summit meeting is set for tomorrow.

HOW MAYORAL CONTROL CAN BACKFIRE -- Diane Ravitch, the historian and former federal education official, weighs in on the Fenty loss. and Rhee's role in it, in an Education Week piece: "Rhee believed that mayoral control gave her the power to work her will and to ignore dissenters or brush them off as defenders of the status quo. Mayoral control bred arrogance and indifference to dialogue. She didn't need to listen to anyone because she had the mayor's unquestioning support. Mayoral control made democratic engagement with parents and teachers unnecessary. It became easy for her to disparage them and for the media to treat them as self-interested troublemakers. ... If D.C. had had an independent school board, Rhee would have had to explain her ideas, defend them, and practice the democratic arts of persuasion, conciliation, and consensus-building. We now have an 'education reform' movement which believes that democracy is too slow and too often wrong, and their reforms are so important, so self-evident that they cannot be delayed by discussion and debate. ... The trouble with this anti-democratic approach to school reform is that it alienates the very people whose votes are needed by the mayor to continue what he started. Although one can find exceptions, it is usually the case that voters don't like autocracy."

SURPRISE EXIT -- The sudden resignation of State Superintendent Kerri Briggs last week "stunned members of the D.C. State Board of Education and others who follow District school matters," Bill Turque reports today. "Even in a post-primary environment where scores of Fenty appointees are likely to be moving on, board members expected at least some advance notice. 'I just don't get it,' said Mary Lord, Ward 2 representative on the board. 'It is out of character for a dedicated steward of an education organization as big as OSSE [Office of the State Superintendent of Education] to pack her bags in the middle of the night and get out of Dodge.' ... Briggs said in an e-mail Tuesday that she informed Fenty of her plans in mid-August and offered to stay on until Oct. 1 to ensure a smooth transition. But Fenty, perhaps reluctant to disclose a major resignation before the Sept. 14 primary, kept Briggs's departure under wraps. ... Briggs, a native of Midland, Tex., and a high-level Republican in a Democratic town, never seemed comfortable in the spotlight.... Sources said she'll be returning to Texas for her next job. What kind, she's not saying. 'There will be an announcement in coming weeks,' she said."

KWAME'S BOOKS -- Jonetta Rose Barras ponders in the Examiner: Whither the D.C. Council under Kwame Brown? She notes the now pending Office of Campaign Finance investigation of his campaign finances. "He's the latest legislator to come under scrutiny during the past two years. Questions were raised about the relationship [Gray] had with a developer with city contracts who helped the lawmaker with renovations on his home. Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham used employees and recruits from the fire department as wait staff for birthday and holiday parties, and Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry used public money to give a contract to a paramour, hoping to retain her affection. ... The presumptive council chairman, who will be responsible for overseeing budget issues, admitted to me that reporting by his campaigns 'could have been better' but insisted that he did nothing wrong. He said folks should wait for all the facts. ... Let's hope it's only a case of sloppy bookkeeping. If Brown is found guilty of misappropriating campaign funds, he likely will have to step down. I'm getting a headache just thinking about the chaos that would create."

HOW TO GET BLACK VOTERS TO LIKE YOU -- Writing at The Root, linguist and intellectual John McWhorter ponders how Fenty might have saved his skin. "Fenty's essential problem was: He wasn't charming. If one weren't a fan, one might note a certain air of The Simpsons' Mr. Burns around his eyes. And he always seems as if he's really waiting to get home. ... He was uncharming in a way that tended to make some black people wonder whether he 'liked' them. It's a major factor in the electability of a black politician, 'interests' aside. ... It makes me think that aspiring black mayors (as well as presidents) need to keep certain things in mind before making their way with black voters." Hence, some advice, including: "Take some Ebonics lessons. Not in street slang, but the cadence. Saying '-in' for -ing here and there -- which Fenty does -- isn't enough; white Ivy grads now do that as a matter of course. Take a listen to how Obama lets the music of a phrase hang at the end in that preacherly way. ... It sounds humble, warm, 'real' -- and instantly, all know that you like them."

WHITE RACISM IN THE COMMENTS? -- Courtland Milloy examines the comments sections of recent Post articles and finds a lot of racially motivated ugliness, he says, on the Fenty side: "There was no shortage of white people denouncing so-called 'black racism' during the D.C. mayoral campaign. Any concern expressed for the way low-income black people are being displaced from the city was interpreted to mean that blacks don't want whites moving in. Complaints that Rhee cannot communicate with black people as effectively as, say, Police Chief Cathy Lanier, and that maybe a more qualified black superintendent could do a better job, are taken as evidence of black prejudice against Koreans. But this torrent of racist views aimed at blacks and expressed ad nauseam through mainstream media garners hardly a peep, except from black people. ... How did Fenty and Rhee attract so many hateful people? Is this the bitter fruit of Fenty's attempt to scare white voters with his made-up Halloween story: Vote for Gray and, poof, Marion Barry will appear trick-or-treating at your door? Or Rhee scaring black voters by posing on the cover of Time magazine with her broomstick? ... The continuing stream of insults lingers over the political landscape like smoke from a witch's flying broom. But it too will vanish, along with those who blackened the sky. And Gray will succeed, surprising the naysayers even more than he did last week."

CHILL OUT -- Tom Sherwood writes: "Vincent Gray won't be another Marion Barry. Going into the weekend after the primary election, we were surprised by the fear expressed by many voters -- almost all white -- that Gray was going to turn back the clock and somehow re-create the city of the 1990s and Marion Barry. Despite suggestions and fears to the contrary, Barry was only a peripheral figure in the Gray campaign, not a leading indicator for how Gray will conduct himself and his policies. Barry inserted himself into the campaign -- even appearing on a Fox 5 debate supporting Gray -- despite Gray and his aides' efforts to persuade him to keep a lower profile, exactly because he is such a polarizing figure. (Barry did not appear on stage with Gray election night, but he was a few feet away and gladly would have come up if Gray had given even a hint it was OK.)"

NORTHEAST CHILDREN'S ZONE -- Initiative that aims to recreate the Harlem Children's Zone in Northeast gets $500,000 federal grant, Bill Turque reports: "Parkside-Kenilworth is one of 21 communities nationwide that received a total of $10 million in seed money to help duplicate Geoffrey Canada's Harlem initiative, designed to provide a seamless web of social and educational services for low-income children and families from birth through college. The D.C. effort is headed by Irasema Salcido, CEO of Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools, which operates a middle and high school campus in Parkside. Salcido has assembled a coalition of local and national players, including DCPS, Children's National Medical Center, Community College of the District of Columbia and America's Promise Alliance to invest in the neighborhood -- which is actually five distinct neighborhoods with 2,000 poor children."


Report: DCPS special-ed transportation has slipped under city control (D.C. Schools Insider)

Peter Nickles likes secure beds, Caps Lock button (Loose Lipa)

A depleted Department of Health Care Finance is rushing to prepare for health-care reform (Post)

What the three-decade conflict at the Dorchester House says about the state of rent control and tenant relations in the city (Post)

Will the cost of doing medical-marijuana business be too high? (DCist)

Committee of 100 types host "victory feast" for Gray next week (Housing Complex)

DOH bedbug video will "make you want to skip lunch" (TBD)

Omar Karim was deposed yesterday, Scott Bolden in tow (WTTG-TV)

WTU's George Parker responds to Rhee's Oprah comments (WTOP)

Cops crack down on texting while driving (Examiner)

Raining on the Capital Bikeshare parade (The Anti DC)

Cop named as accomplice in federal drug case (WaTimes)

Clarence Page: "Black is back. So is white. Less than two years after President Barack Obama's White House win, race is making a political comeback -- if it ever really left." Guess who's Exhibit A. (Chicago Tribune)

Channel 7 highlights Kathy Henderson's construction hiring initiative (TBD)

CCNV celebrated its 40th anniversary this month (

The museum that's not a museum (DCmud)

Take the "Adrian Fenty Memorial Gentrification Tour" (Wonkette)

The region and race, in dots (GGW)

*** ON THE MENU ***

11 a.m. hearing on the "Artist Protection Act," which will keep creditors from repossessing artworks from bankrupt galleries, JAWB 500

By Mike DeBonis  | September 22, 2010; 9:45 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Gray and Rhee to meet Thursday
Next: DeMorning DeBonis: Sept. 23, 2010


"I don't think it was really thought of as a possibility even four years ago that you'd be able to walk into a lot of our elementary schools and your child would be able to learn Chinese or French or Spanish, or be in an [International Baccalaureate] program, and now those things are proliferating throughout the district,' she said. ... "

I take significant exception to this since the program of IB and language at Shepherd ES was almost scuttled by her and her minions her first year and if it were not for the activist reaction from the school's PTA, the program wouldn't exist today. After 8 principals in a year, now 2 years later the school is stable and on its way to IB certification. Contrary to her statement, it was not thanks to Rhee. We will not kiss her ring!!!

Posted by: shepDC | September 22, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

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