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Eye Opener: Dec. 30, 2008

By Ed O'Keefe

Good morning!

Eye Opener

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Now to the news...

Chicago Schools a U.S. Model?: Barack Obama's pick for education secretary, Arne Duncan will bring his experience as Chicago schools chief to Washington in the coming weeks. "Officials [in Chicago] court new charter schools, teacher training is being reinvented, and some low-performing schools have been shuttered and reopened with new staff," reports The Post's education reporter Maria Glod. "Officials are also offering some students cash for good grades and seeking proposals for boarding schools. In addition, Duncan backed a plan to start a gay-friendly high school. For the most part, the changes came with little organized opposition, except for some skirmishes with the teachers union." Glod also reports that "Duncan, appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2001, has shown unusual longevity for a big-city school leader, cultivating ties with unions, nonprofit groups and other stakeholders." Can he do the same in Washington?

Homelessness Chief Profiled: How many former seminarians-turned-music agents work for the Federal government? At least one: Philip F. Mangano who "has attempted to sell officials in the United States and around the world on his preferred solution for getting people off the streets, asking them to focus on providing permanent housing instead of temporary shelters." He's won the support of big-city mayors and supporters "say he deserves some of the credit for a steep decline in the national homelessness rate in recent years. A Department of Housing and Urban Development report earlier this year -- before the economic crisis kicked in -- noted a 12 percent drop in the number of homeless people from 2005 to 2007. The percentage of those classified as 'chronically homeless' dropped even more sharply." The Post's Derek Kravitz also reports that "Mangano, 60, refers to homeless people as "consumers" and said he thinks that decades of government policies to reduce the homeless population were misguided." Interesting article about an interesting guy.

Fighting for War -- and Custody: A tough story about how the military service of some parents -- and their overseas deployments -- are being used against them in divorce settlements. "The military does not track statistics on custody disputes," reports The Post's Ann Scott Tyson. "Female troops may be particularly at risk, because mothers are more likely to have custody of children after a divorce. 'For them to go away for 15 to 18 months, it opens the door to these challenges,'" said one attorney.

Pentagon Violates Veteran Hiring Practices: "In a Dec. 24 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that an Office of Personnel Management authority that allowed Defense to bypass traditional competitive hiring procedures for entry-level positions was invalid because the regulation conflicted with statutory requirements," reports Federal Times. "Congress required that OPM give permission to DoD to pass over a veteran or other preferred candidate for a job, but in this case Defense made that decision on its own when it passed over veteran Stephen Gingery for a job at the Defense Contract Audit Agency. Defense used a special authority to hire candidates through the Federal Career Intern Program, which under OPM’s regulation allowed the department to decide whether to give preference to the veteran. In exercising this hiring authority, the department denied Gingery, who has a 30 percent or greater disability, his preference rights, Judge Kimberly Moore wrote in the decision."

Events: On Jan. 6, the Council for Excellence in Government, the Senior Executives Association, Harvard Business Publishing and washingtonpost.com co-sponsor a workshop with Dr. Michael Watkins, author of the international best-sellers, "The First Ninety Days" and "The First Ninety Days in Government." The event will be held at the National Press Club from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. See you there!

This Day in History: On this date in 1922, the U.S.S.R. was established. More here.

By Ed O'Keefe  | December 30, 2008; 7:47 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Comments

Arne Duncan is a figurehead. He has not developed high performing neighborhood schools because he threw his support behind the Chicago Commerce Club, which supports the creation of charter schools (which cherry pick students) over supporting neighborhood schools. Instead of providing the resources necessary for whole school reform which provides those neighborhood schools with the power to enlarge the instructional day, build in during the school day time for staff to meet to look at student work and strategize and reflect on implementation, he did nothing but give lip service. My understanding is that high performing schools have that freedom. Duncan kept the shackles on neighborhood schools so the are bound to fail. Chicago has a long way to go before it becomes a model. Sorry but Obama clowned us on his pick of Duncan!

Posted by: edtechlab | December 31, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

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