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DeMorning DeBonis: Oct. 13, 2010


PREVIOUSLY -- Michelle Rhee and the perils of the national stage

Seeing no need to prolong the inevitable, sources close to Michelle Rhee and Vincent Gray revealed yesterday evening that by "mutual decision," the former won't have a place in the latter's administration, and they will announce the news this morning during a Mayflower Hotel news conference. Rhee's top deputy, Kaya Henderson, will start as interim chancellor by month's end. Go to Tim Craig and Bill Turque's Washington Post story for both the news and the early read on What It All Means: "Rhee survived three contentious years that made her a superstar of the education reform movement and one of the longest-serving school leaders in the city in two decades. Student test scores rose, and the teachers union accepted a contract that gave the chancellor sweeping powers to fire the lowest-performing among them. But Rhee will leave with considerable unfinished business in her quest to improve teaching, close the worst schools and infuse a culture of excellence in a system that has been one of the nation's least effective at educating students." Turque also runs down Rhee's "unfinished business": Will "minimally effective" teachers be dismissed? Will use of standardized testing expand? Will secondary schools improve? Follow @mikedebonis for news conference livetweets, and look after the jump for still more Rhee punditry.

BREAKING -- One worker has been killed, another wounded in a shooting at the Department of Public Works yard on W Street NE. WUSA-TV reports that police "believe the suspect is wearing a DPW uniform."

AFTER THE JUMP -- Hardy parents livid about sex survey -- New Beginnings chief is out -- Dennis Rubin is ready to pack his bags -- Fenty write-in bid garners $4,400 in donations -- city inequality on the rise


ABOUT KAYA HENDERSON -- Writes Turque: "In Henderson, Gray inherits someone in tune with Rhee on the fundamentals of education reform, especially the belief that teacher quality is the most important determinant of student success. Rhee and Henderson worked together at the New Teacher Project, a teacher recruiting nonprofit group that Rhee founded and ran before she was appointed by [Mayor Adrian Fenty] in June 2007. Henderson was a vice president for the group. She was Rhee's first appointment and was named her top deputy the day Rhee was introduced to the District. ... As deputy chancellor for 'human capital,' Henderson was a key figure in the firing of 98 central office employees in 2008. She was also lead D.C. negotiator on the marathon contract talks with the Washington Teachers' Union, which led to a labor pact that establishes classroom performance - rather than traditional seniority - as the main factor driving job security. But Henderson was known to have a decent relationship with [WTU President George Parker]. 'I respect her because she is a collaborative person, but also a very strong reformer,' Parker said Tuesday night."

BOB McCARTNEY -- The Washington Post columnist writes that there was no point in delay: "If Michelle Rhee had to go, then we should be grateful that she's departing sooner rather than later. The uncertainty over the job status of the schools chancellor risked being a drag on the whole city, especially as Vincent Gray, the District's presumptive next mayor, works to get his new administration off to a strong start.Now that the distraction is over and it's decided that Rhee will leave by the end of the month, Gray and his team must turn their focus to finding ways to keep pushing school reform forward without her."

ERIK WEMPLE -- The editor writes that Fenty and Rhee were meant for each other: "There's something fitting about confirmed jerk Mayor Adrian Fenty and lightning rod Michelle Rhee leaving power at the same time. Perhaps I should consult an expert at the International City/County Management Association, but I doubt that a mayor and a top appointee have ever shared leadership traits as closely as Fenty and Rhee. ... Rhee's departure shortly after the mayoral primary settles for good one central point, and that's the volatility of a politicized school system. ... D.C., this is your new school governance plan. Don't get all outraged when your chancellor acts all political, when principals and and administrators lobby for their bosses on the playground, when other unforeseen partisan shenanigans originate from the school system. That's how we do business, now."

VALERIE STRAUSS -- In The Post's Answer Sheet blog, she writes that Rhee is just another Arlene Ackerman: "She came in like a whirlwind, kicking up dust wherever she went, and now, Michelle Rhee, all-powerful chancellor of D.C. public schools, is leaving after three years, securing her place in the history of D.C. public education as, well, mostly a whirlwind. ... [T]he kind of business-driven, standardized test-centric reforms that Rhee championed, with the full support of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, are guaranteed not to help improve troubled schools. They can't work because they don't address the most basic issues confronting students and teachers."

JAY MATHEWS -- The Post education columnist writes that Gray has something to prove: "Unfortunately for whomever replaces Rhee, many of the people who did not vote for Gray will be skeptical that any new chancellor can match Rhee's blend of determination and daring. ... [T]hose D.C. residents who had long ago given up hope of any relief from the apathy and inertia that has long held back the city schools saw her as a big improvement, even when she stumbled. That means Gray has to come up with a replacement who is both experienced handling the politics of big city school districts, which Rhee was not, and willing to offend significant power brokers in making improvements, which few urban school leaders ever do."

ME -- I write that Rhee's play for the national stage did her no favors: "Her repeated comments about the sorry state of city schools, her implication that bad teachers more than grinding poverty or any other factor had kept D.C. in the gutter, grated on the minds of residents who saw a more complicated picture. ... As much as she protested over the past three years that her decisions were made in the best interests of children, not adults, she operated in a world where it's the adults who matter. And she was employed by a politician beholden to the votes of, yes, adults. Fenty did her no favors by offering her unquestioning support, backing her every move on high principle without tending to the gritty concerns of winning the people's support for her decisions. His disdain for the city's political folkways became her own -- and became the downfall of both."

REAX -- Says Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh: "I'm deeply disappointed. We always heard it was about the children. I don't think it is good for the children for her to leave in the middle of the fall. I had always hoped that if she wanted to leave she'd be part of a smooth transition." Says State Board of Education President Ted Trabue: "I'm shocked that she's leaving so quickly. ... I really thought [Gray and Rhee] would work something out so that she stayed until the end of the academic year. I thought it would have been in the best interests of the students."

ALSO -- Examiner, TBD, WaTimes, WRC-TV, WUSA-TV, WTTG-TV, WTOP, Loose Lips, WBJ

QUITE THE SURVEY -- Very nice scoop for the Georgetown Dish, which reports on Hardy Middle School parents who are upset that their children were given a survey called "Making Proud Choices" that included explicit questions about sex and drugs. And there's this question: "What is your gender? a) Male; b) Female; c) Transgender (M to F); d) Transgender (F to M)." The survey was the work of nonprofit Metro TeenAIDS, which "received a $15,000 consulting contract and $80,000 contract from DCPS in 2009 to provide programming in the schools." A letter sent last year "warned parents that the survey questions 'may make your child feel uncomfortable' or have 'an emotional reaction.' The letter informed parents that they could have their child opt out of the evaluation or the program itself. But parents said they never received these warnings before the survey was administered to seventh-graders Oct. 5 at Hardy. Only after parents demanded a meeting with Principal Dana Nerenberg and other officials were they given a copy of the actual test, two days after it was administered. As they reviewed the subject matter and the vocabulary of the survey, the parents grew even more outraged." DCist says the questions are "ones ... many adults would blush at." TBD has reaction from DCPS: "We strongly believe that parents have a role to play in providing HIV/AIDS and reproductive health education, and we regret that our oversight resulted in affecting our parents' right to choose how their students receive this information." WTTG-TV interviews Metro TeenAIDS executive director Sean Tenner Adam Tenner.

NEW BEGINNINGS CHIEF OUT -- Sean Hamilton, who was head of the city's New Beginnings juvenile detention center, has resigned, Freeman Klopott reports in Examiner. "The rapid changes at the top of the Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services have come as new interim Director Robert Hildum has pushed to keep more young criminal offenders behind bars. The day Fenty announced Hildum's appointment in July, the agency's second in command, Deputy Director David Brown, and confinement chief David Muhammad announced their resignations. Hamilton is now following their lead, a year after he took the job as New Beginnings' superintendent. ... All three agency leaders were part of former DYRS Director Vinnie Schiraldi's reform effort, which focused on keeping youth out of detention centers and in residential treatment facilities."

FIRE CHIEF RUBIN READY TO PACK -- Fire Chief Dennis Rubin tells WTOP's Neal Augenstein that he "would be honored to serve under the Gray administration" but he's expecting to get canned by Gray anyway. "I'm not going to sit here and wring my hands and wait for him to call," says Rubin, who has moving boxes in his office already. "Rubin says he has not been approached by Gray, but new mayors in the District have historically hired new fire chiefs. '... I'm beginning the process of thinking about how I'd structure a pack or move if that opportunity presents itself,' Rubin says. 'I would like to think I could walk into another fire chief's job tomorrow, or that I could continue here,' Rubin says of his more than 35 years of public service, '"but the stark reality is I need to have options.' Rubin says he's looking forward to make certain he is continuously employed. 'I have to take care of a mortgage and car payments,' he says."

WRITING IT IN FOR FENTY-- Jonetta Rose Barras profiles the Fenty write-in backers in her Examiner column. "Joshua Lopez is only 26 years old, but he remembers the bad old days in the District when nothing worked and 'elected officials didn't consider the needs of the people a priority.' That was during the 1980s and 1990s, he said, when Marion Barry and Sharon Pratt Kelly were mayors. 'I'm fearful that special-interest folks and others who ran the city [then] will be at the table again,' Lopez told me during a conversation about the write-in campaign he and others, including John Hlinko and Ellie Anderson, have launched, hoping to get Mayor Adrian Fenty re-elected. '[Vincent] Gray hasn't said or done anything that would lead me to believe he's going to keep moving the city forward,' continued Lopez. ... Already, more than 5,000 people have signed onto the Facebook page runfentyrun, and the group's Web site, pledging support and offering financial contributions." But the campaign finance reports filed yesterday indicate that a lot of Facebook friends doesn't translate into a whole lot of money: The "Save D.C. Now" PAC raised $4,588 [PDF] in about a week -- $2,000 of it from Lopez.

INEQUALIITY INCREASES -- A new study from the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, Washington Post staff writer Nikita Stewart reports today, shows that "employment gaps between black and white, educated and uneducated, and wealthy and low-income residents in the District are continuing to widen, with some conditions at their worst levels in 30 years." The report "shows that the inequalities have been exacerbated by the recession but have been mounting for decades. In recent years, the city's narrative has been the gentrification of neighborhoods through condominiums, dog parks and restaurants, but the report shows that the shift has spread to the city's workforce. 'We all know D.C. is gentrifying physically ... but [the report] shows a similar thing in the economy,' said Ed Lazere, the institute's executive director. 'For D.C. residents, particularly those without college degrees, they're getting squeezed out of this economy. ... This long-term slide for residents without degrees is going to continue.'"

MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS? -- Moving low-income D.C. residents from the D.C. Healthcare Alliance to Medicaid to take advantage of new federal dollars has stressed city mental health providers, Darryl Fears reports in The Post. "It looked like a win-win: The city got some financial relief and the new Medicaid beneficiaries got mental health coverage, which was not part of the Alliance plan. But it creates a problem for the city's mental health-care providers, who said this week that they are faced with serving thousands of new clients they are not prepared to manage. 'We support expanding Medicaid eligibility, but you have to have the provider capacity to do it,' said Shannon Hall, executive director of the D.C. Behavioral Health Association, an advocate for providers. ... The complaint by Hall and local mental health providers echoes general concerns about the health-care overhaul raised by hospitals, doctors, nurses and their advocates nationwide who say the mammoth program is being built on a network that cannot support it."

NAKED FIREFIGHTER -- A firefighter who was "photographed cooking eggs naked after a retirement party in a D.C. firehouse has been placed on enforced leave and is now the subject of a new investigation," Augenstein reports for WTOP. Chief Rubin "would not disclose details of the new allegations against the male firefighter, whose picture from the July incident was first broadcast on Channel 4. ... Rubin tells WTOP the internal investigation determined there were no female employees or attendees, but the firefighter's nudity in a common area merited his being removed from service during the investigation. ... The department investigation showed there was no alcohol on premises at the Columbia Heights firehouse, at the corner of 14th and Newton Streets, NW, Rubin says. Rubin says after a retirement party at the station, several employees went to nearby bars, and apparently returned to the firehouse for a late-night breakfast."


Ron Moten says violence will rise without Peaceoholics; channels Col. Nathan Jessup -- "You want me on that wall! You need me on that wall!" (City Desk)

Bishop Harry Jackson takes his challenge to D.C.'s gay marriage law to Supreme Court.(AP via WTOP)

Will Alice Rivlin bring her budget-slashing ways from Social Security to D.C. government? (Examiner/Capital Land)

Metro elevators indeed a mess, independent report says. (WTTG-TV, WAMU-FM)

Kerri Briggs shares what she'll be doing at the Bush Institute: focusing on principals. (WAMU-FM)

DHCD moves to hike condo registration fees. (WBJ)

Highland Dwellings residents organize to keep their homes. (Housing Complex)

In the battle of burgers vs. lawyers, lawyers won. (Young & Hungry)

Defendants' lawyers want Wone attorney. Pat Regan gagged (Legal Times)

Cool maps, courtesy of DCRA. (Flickr)

Readers responds to the Klein-Rhee "manifesto." (Post)

Georgetown Library ribbon-cutting is set for next Monday. (Patch)

*** ON THE MENU ***

Rhee departure announced 10:30 a.m. at the Mayflower Hotel -- council hearing on "Blood Donation Expansion Act of 2010," 4 p.m. in JAWB 123

By Mike DeBonis  | October 13, 2010; 10:44 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Mike, The District  
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Next: Michelle Rhee launches Web site, joins Facebook and Twitter


Is Vincent Gray black?

Posted by: ohioan | October 13, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I see the Save DC Now PAC had 30 contributors, but even with that few had to go outside DC to find them. Contributions are listed from VA, SC, NJ, and CA.

Posted by: KCinDC1 | October 13, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

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