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December 12, 1996

More on Marcus Garvey

Dear Neighbors:

I’m heading out of town for a couple of days of R&R (Roast Beef and Red Wine) so this issue will have to suffice until the late Sunday/early Monday edition.


Instead of two cents, we have about twenty dollars’ worth on the incident at the Marcus Garvey Charter School. Let me up the ante a buck. Does anyone think that the school board performed appropriate due diligence when they awarded this charter? It’s standard business practice to perform due diligence on any organization or person you intend to do business with. Check the files, check the court dockets, check with the creditors. That sort of thing. School Board Prez Karen Shook’s response to this affair is akin to a deer caught in the headlights. Who knows what the grand jury investigation will find? But it would really be nice to know what the school board found before it granted this charter. I’m doubtful it found little because it didn’t look very hard. The School Board has one lousy responsibility left and it still can’t do its job.


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Jeffrey Itell


The Marcus Garvey Charter School
Ralph Blessing

The Marcus Garvey Charter School incident puts many of us in the who-do-you- believe corner: a reporter from the Washington Times, where even headlines read like right-wing editorials, or a principal who surrounds herself with the likes of Willie Wilson and other blatant racists. I guess I’m prone to believe the reporter if only for the simple reason that it would take a deranged person to do what she was accused of doing, i.e., pulling a knife in a crowd of male students at a high school chartered to enroll kids with serious discipline problems. And why hasn’t the principal produced the knife and other pieces of "evidence" that allegedly were wrested from the reporter? Or are these my biases showing?


Vicky Leonard-Chambers

I live in the Bloomingdale section of N.W. and Mary T. Angibo happens to live around the corner from me. Right after moving into Bloomingdale, Ms. Angibo confronted me in the alley behind her home while I was walking my dog. She told me to make sure I picked up after my dog (mind you, I was holding a plastic bag in my hand for that very purpose). She said "we didn’t have a problem with dog poop until white people moved into the neighborhood."


Aries Keck

Washington Times reporter Susan Ferrechio is a friend of mine. (Second hand - Through friends) this is her tale of the incident. Susan entered the school and met with a secretary who directed her to the principal’s office. On the way to the office, Susan began asking questions to the passing students as she was walking. The secretary then called down the hall for Susan to come back. (Apparently re-thinking sending Susan to the principal’s office unescorted.) That’s when the principal arrived flanked with four students. They took Susan’s notebook after some verbal harassment and threw her out of the school. She returned later with the police and a Washington Times photographer.

I have NOT talked directly to Susan about this. And as a reporter myself, I’m worried about hearsay. My only comment is this. Susan is about 5’5" and 120 pounds. And if the meek girl I spent a few days at the beach with this summer brandished a knife at a high school principal I would be dramatically surprised.


Barbara Somson

There are important lessons to be learned from the alleged incident at the Marcus Garvey charter school and the subsequent confusion about who is empowered to take action. At a minimum, we can see that charter schools are not a "magic bullet" for all the problems facing public education. (Just as we learned earlier this year from the Kedar School scandal that contracting out public education services does not necessarily assure quality education for children.)

We also see what happens when the Congress grafts legislation on the District without sufficient hearings or deliberation. The legislation that created charter schools here in the District was a hurried attempt by House Republicans, primarily Newt Gingrich and Steve Gunderson, to effectuate some kind of school reform in D.C. It is premised on the belief that the private sector can do anything better and more efficiently than the public sector. The legislation establishes no criteria for curriculum, staff, or facilities. It provides no funding for charter school start up costs or for the monitoring of the schools by the chartering authority. And Congress opted not to begin with a pilot program, but permitted a total of twenty charter schools to be established annually.

The statute provides little guidance with respect to the grounds for revoking a school’s charter. Interestingly, it provides that the charter SHALL be revoked for financial mismanagement, but only that it MAY be revoked if the charter school commits a violation of applicable laws or a material violation of its charter. Even so — and Karen Shook’s bewilderment notwithstanding — the statute clearly sets forth the procedures for revoking a charter: the school’s board of trustees must be notified in writing of an intent to revoke, with reasons; they have 15 days to request an "informal hearing," which must be held within 30 days of the request. A written decision must be rendered within 30 days of the hearing. The reasons for the revocation may not be arbitrary or capricious. There is judicial review.


Adrianne Flynn

Of course there’s more to the reporter-bashing story, and I suspect the reporter may have done more than she’s let on to piss folks off. But there’s no excuse for pushing, shoving, hitting and confiscating a notebook. None. Zero. And there’s even less for involving the students you’re sworn to teach. But there is no question, good sources tell me, that race was the underlying motivating factor for the attack. The same sources say that the attack on police was even worse than reported. And Marcus Garvey is chartered as a cultural nationalist kind-of school. So Is Marcus Garvey’s charter mission to raise racists? Should it be closed? Should the charter schools program end? I think not on all counts.

There’s nothing wrong with cultural nationalism, except when it warps from something enlightening about a people’s heritage into hate for another’s .And provided the kids are learning the math, English, social studies and other skills they need.

The school’s charter ought to be re-examined and refined. It ought to be put on probation with the new uberschoolboard appointed to monitor it and Anigbo should be fired or seriously demoted. Regardless of whether the reporter said a few things to piss people off, Anigbo has not displayed the kind of behavior appropriate to a school principal, let alone one boldly going where few have gone before.

And those who are looking at this incident as a way of killing the charter school program are ignorant in the same way a bigot is who condemns an entire race on the acts of one or two of its members. And finally, most reporters are good people paid to be pushy so all of you, all of us, know what’s going on. The best thing about all this is we now know something’s going on and we have a chance to fix it.


Debbie Weinsheimer

Regarding the Marcus Garvey incident, if you turned the circumstances around & had a White principal & her students engage in the same assaultive conduct against a Black reporter, there would be near rioting in the streets. Jessie Jackson, Mayor Barry et all would be everywhere, be it television, print, demonstrating, etc. In other words they would be raising holy hell. The silence is deafening in this particular situation—so what else is new?

And the school itself-----are White children banned from attending? Does this mean that public funds are being used to support what appears to be a discriminating, racist institution? I get tired of many Blacks continually referring to themselves as minority residents in the District.

Hello!!! What s wrong with this picture? Do White residents ever address this? Probably behind closed doors but I’ve never heard it publicly discussed. Lets update what the meaning of minority is: "The smaller in number of two groups forming a whole."

"A racial, religious, political, national, or other group regarded as different from a larger group of which it is a part." What are the current figures these days? 80%-20%? Higher? Why are people afraid to speak the truth? Its obvious White District residents are the true minority. So why not speak out? Otherwise the silence indicates approval.


Steven J. Hoffman Takoma Park

I have never liked the idea of "charter schools" .I believe public education should attempt to unite, not divide, America’s schoolchildren. Charter schools is one of those "less there than meets the eyes" idea that politicians (left or right) love to advocate because they sound like a good idea. Rather than balkanizing our schools and schoolchildren into isolated social experiments in which charismatic characters acquire taxpayer dollars to run their own feifdoms, we should have a common curriculum providing well-trained teachers (at good salaries, to attract the best and brightest college grads into the profession) with low student-to-teacher ratios, decently maintained physical plants, fair but firm standards of behavior, and solid academic expectations. A 7th grade student in any D.C. school should be learning roughly the same curriculum as any other 7th grade student in D.C., Maryland, Virginia … or anywhere else in the U.S. Let’s stop the relentless emphasis on re-inventing the educational wheel — and let’s start improving the neighborhood public schools the vast majority of children attend.


Jim Farley

I’d be curious to know which radio station your readers think does the best job of covering news in the District.


Department of Public Works
Councilmember Kathy Patterson

Larry King, former DPW director, hasn’t gone far. He’s now the executive director of the new water/sewer authority, the semi-regional entity now running Blue Plains, which could offer him a higher salary (can’t everybody) than the District since its semi-autonomy takes it out from under the D.C. salary caps. Cellerino Bernardino is the acting director, and explains that the job is his to lose if there’s a big snow storm. He came from the NYC port authority, I think, and also has experience with a performance-based government at the county level in … New Jersey maybe.


City Officials on List
John Capozzi U. S. Rep.

In reply to Joan Eisenstat and to other elected representatives who participate in DC Stories I wanted to let her know that I have been an active participant and will continue to comment when appropriate. I also promote the newsletter to all the elected representatives and political activists who I know. I give Kathy Patterson a great deal of credit for the time she has taken to put her views out. Many of the other council people need to follow her example.


Flat Tax
Pat Hahn

Re: the Republican Congress’ nerve concerning Eleanor Holmes Norton’s tax proposal, I think it’s not quite fair to say they have none because the bill didn’t get as far as the hearing stage. It got introduced relatively late in the session. Nonetheless, it got a fair amount of publicity and I’ll be real surprised if nothing happens in the 105th, assuming the bill is introduced again.


Rock Creek Park
Jim Kingdon

Ted Gest asks about the park service considering driving in Rock Creek Park and the impact on traffic. I’m not a traffic engineer and I haven’t seen the details on this, but from memory, Beech Drive (I think this is the section north of Pierce Mill which is currently closed on weekends) carries 6% of the traffic through that corridor, and there is three times as much traffic through the zoo tunnel as through the above-mentioned section. Anyone have better numbers? Or anecdotal evidence about the effect of closing the zoo tunnel for repairs a few years ago?

For an introductory letter on the planning process for the park, which the process which is considering things like whether to close any of the roads, see


Herschel Browne

Regarding the closing of Beach Drive to motorized traffic: It is certainly true, as one of our correspondents wrote, that a drive through the park can be pleasant. But the majority of traffic through the park uses it not as a pleasant scenic drive, but as a commuter speedway. The Park Service has long favored closing the park to commuter traffic, not as a perk for bicyclists and other non-motorized traffic, but as an ecological measure to preserve the park. The heavy automobile traffic on Beach Drive and Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway are killing the park: killing wildlife outright through collisions, and slowly killing wildlife and vegetation through pollution.

These roads were designed as scenic parkways, not commuter routes. I would have no real problem with limited automobile access during non-rush times of day (say, Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10 am and 4 pm) with the current 25-mph speed limit strictly adhered to. But limiting the park roads largely to foot, skate, and unmotorized two-wheel traffic the rest of the time is in the best interests of the park, the city, and the people who want to use the park. Rock Creek Park is one of our most precious resources, that ought to be the envy of the civilized world—how many cities can boast of such a wild, beautiful space in their midst? To squander and ruin it in the interest of a few heedless, wasteful automobile commuters is a crime.


Bank check clearing procedures
John Whiteside

Does anyone out there know where I can find information on local (DC) laws that regulate when banks must make deposited funds available to account holders? I’m having a dispute with NationsBank because they held my paycheck — drawn on a NationsBank account! — for nine business days before making funds available. The result: bounced checks. Their customer service people tell me that I could have walked into the bank and gotten cash for the check (since it was drawn on their bank), but since I deposited it into my checking account and the account has been open less than thirty days, they are holding it for almost two weeks. So much for my rent and car payment. I know that many states have laws regarding check clearing and I’m wondering if DC has any consumer protection measures in this area.

On a related topic, does anyone have particularly good or bad tales to tell of local banks?


Evan Roth I really DON’T speak for my employer, and my employer sure doesn’t speak for me.

Mr. Lieberman doesn’t mention a big difference between American newspapers and European newspapers: the newsstand price. American newspapers generally sell for 25 cents to 50 cents a copy. In Europe, a typical newspaper sells for US$1 or more a copy.

Yes, American newspapers, including mine, could cut way back on advertising, but then you, the reader, would have to fork over $1 or more a day. Are you willing to pay that?

I’ve read some European newspapers, and I can’t recall them having an appreciably larger news hole than their American counterparts. I challenge anyone to find a paper with a bigger news hole than the Sunday editions of The New York Times or The Washington Post. Even daily, newspapers like the Post or the Times offer more news than many, if not most, readers can handle.

Maybe Mr. Lieberman doesn’t like to read advertisements, with or without coupons, but many readers do. Ads DO impart information — biased information, for sure — and DO provide a service to readers. I find some ads both creative and entertaining. I for one wouldn’t necessarily be happier with a advertising-less newspaper. (And, hey, if you don’t like ads, just turn the page.)

I’m as concerned about our forests as the next guy — save the old growth forests, by all means. But newsprint doesn’t come from endangered species; it comes from trees planted by man, trees that are replaced. And increasingly, newsprint is recycled, so fewer trees are cut down.

I’m an newspaper editor and writer, not an advertising salesman. I’d love for my newspaper to have an unlimited news hole. I wish it could support itself on circulation alone and still sell for two bits a copy. But it ain’t going to happen, and the system we now follow works reasonably well. It’s like democracy; it’s a terrible system, except for all the others.


2nd Pre-Ski Happy Hour

The 2nd pre-ski happy hour on Thursday, December 12, 1996, starting at 6:30 pm at Nantucket Landing, 4723 Elm Street, Bethesda, MD, 301-654-0022. Like last time, it’s FREE, and there will be munchies and reduced drink prices. Deposits are still being accepted for both trips, just need them ASAP to guarantee a spot.

Lisa Needleman


upcoming ski trip: seven springs — jan. 31 - feb. 2, 1997

Package includes: *2 nights lodging at Ramada Inn, Somerset, PA (indoor pool, jacuzzi & sauna) *Roundtrip transportation via lavatory equipped, non-smoking, video motor coach. *4 all you can eat meals (2 buffet breakfasts/2 buffet dinners with Sat. night dinning option) *Open bar weekend (Fri. 10pm - 2am; Sat. 4pm - 6pm & 9:30pm - 1:30am; Sun. 2-4pm) *Free lessons of ANY level *Free ski rentals *Dancing, parties and non-stop fun *Complimentary refreshments at parties *Apres Ski on Sat. and Sun. (open bar and refreshments) *Daily transfers to Seven Springs *Optional activities such as mini golf, bowling, rollerskating, health spa, shopping, outlets.

Bus departs at 7pm from Grosvenor Metro in Rockville. Prices are $195 for 4 in a room; $205 for 3 in a room; $215 for 2 in a room. a $50 deposit or full payment is due asap to reserve a spot. availability is limited. final payment is due 1/3/97.

Lisa Needleman


Holiday Sales

Don’t forget to so some shopping at the John Eaton School Holiday Book Fair this week. Wednesday has extended hours to 8:00 p.m. Also, pick up your Christmas tree this weekend at John Eaton. The trees are beautiful and you will be helping out a great cause. John Eaton is located at the corner of Lowell and 34th Streets, NW.

Leila Afzal


Quick Gift

A special holiday gift that is tax deductible and includes a one year PFLAG membership is available for only $50. This memorable and festive gift includes the latest PFLAG newsletter—The PFLAGpole, PFLAG’s public referral directory, PFLAG’s general brochure, purple PFLAG lapel pin, your choice of either "The Next Step" or "Our Daughters and Sons" (two of PFLAG’s own great publications), and a special holiday membership certificate identifying YOU as the giver. A $75 gift includes the above items plus an additional publication and an attractive heart-shaped picture frame. To order one or more of these special PFLAG holiday gifts, please call the PFLAG national office immediately with your visa/mastercard handy at (202) 638-4200 or fax us at (202) 638-0243.

Ellen Harris


Sherri’s Party Helping can make your holiday party easy, helping with cooking, serving and cleanup. Call Sherri at (703) 941-8442 for details.

Claude Seymour


Get serious about the Internet

Tired of home pages? Ready to use the Internet for business? Turner Consulting Group, a DC-based Web-development company with staff of 25 can help you use Internet technology for an Intranet, online sales, marketing, information collection or information dissemination. Clients include NIH, AAAS, international telecommunications companies, and Fortune 100 businesses as well as startups. Contact us at, or call Daniel Turner, president, at (202) 986-5533.

Judith Axler Turner, Principal


Home PC Computer Assistance

I’ll help you choose and buy the best model for the lowest price, get your computer up and running, teach you the ins and outs of Windows 95 and applications, show you how to maintain your system, build special applications for you, and get you up and running on the internet. $60/hour. 202.244.4163.


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