The number of your messages to themail has dropped significantly over
the past three issues, in which I have written about political prospects
for the 2010 elections. Please let me know whether you haven’t
responded because you’re bored by the subject or just find that what I
wrote was so self-evidently correct that you can’t find anything to
disagree with. Either way, please remember that themail is whatever you
make it. If you would rather read about the best or worst restaurants in
town, the best museum exhibits, the best local bands, the best
performance by a local sports team (yes, I am joking), you can start
that conversation yourself with your next submission. If you don’t
fill themail with your messages, I’ll have to write about cars versus
bicycles again (see “Stop Means Stop: How Do We Get Bikers to Obey
Traffic Laws?” http://www.slate.com/id/2232555).
In the last introduction to themail, I wrote that Clark Ray was
running for an at-large councilmember seat against Phil Mendelson “to
be another rubber-stamp supporter” of Fenty. One reader asked why I
would suppose that “when Fenty cut him off at the knees (or a little
higher) one Sunday night last spring when he had Tangherlini fire him
effective next morning?” I replied, “Ray’s chief complaint against
Mendelson, his major rationale for running against Mendelson, is that
Mendelson doesn’t support Fenty strongly enough — that Mendelson
opposed Fenty’s takeover of the school system and the unconstitutional
parts of Fenty’s omnibus crime bill. Ray issued a press release
criticizing the city council for not voting to approve Fenty’s
nomination of Ximena Hartsock. And he has never said a word criticizing
Fenty, even for firing him (neither has Fenty ever criticized Ray). When
he was fired, he was given a very generous separation settlement that
basically supports him for a year, while he campaigns. If you know of
any instance of Ray’s supporting the council in any dispute with Fenty,
or of Ray’s opposing Fenty on anything, I’d like to hear about it.”
What I forgot to add was that Ray was already calling people to tell
them he was going to run for the council on the day Fenty announced
Hartsock’s appointment to replace him, which suggests he wasn’t
exactly devastated by his firing. In any case, my correspondent asked,
“Can you say how ‘generous’ his exit package was?” Neither the
Fenty administration nor Ray has disclosed the terms of his severance
package; I based my estimate of enough to support him for a year on
third-hand information. If anyone wants to correct that estimate, or to
cite any issue on which Ray would actually vote against Fenty, I’ll be
happy to hear from them.
Also in the last introduction to themail, I mentioned the City
Paper item exposing Michelle Rhee’s E-mail to Ximena Hartsock,
which said that the Washington Post’s editorial board would
write a very favorable editorial about Hartsock as a result of Rhee’s
conversation with them. A reader suggested that I add the link to the
editorial that resulted, so here it is: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/05/AR2009100503182.html.
Must-reads: “Staggering Need, Striking Neglect: The Nation’s
Worst-Hit City Awards Millions for Care and Shelter Without Ensuring It
Gets to Those It’s Meant to Help,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/17/AR2009101701984.html;
“Students Post-RIF: McKinley High School ‘Dreary,’” http://tinyurl.com/yjgyvem;
Harry Jaffe, “Wealthy Developer Promises to Fund Fenty Foe,” http://tinyurl.com/yh6of9g.
Where Have All The Highly Qualified Teachers
Candi Peterson, firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a double standard within Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s
administration. What we are seeing is a chancellor who is not being
accountable when it matters most to be accountable, a chancellor who
refuses to provide details about how she spends federal and district
government funds, a chancellor who fails to include the input of all
critical stakeholders and a chancellor who refuses to inform the
teachers union of the names of terminated teachers, as required by the
National Labor Reporting and Disclosure Act. Rhee’s motto is a study
in hypocrisy — don’t do as I do, do as I say, or I’ll get the best
Most of us can agree with the Post writer who said that Rhee
overplayed her hand this time in laying off hundreds of teachers after
hiring nine hundred new teachers. Some suggest that these nine hundred
newbie teachers were hired via telephone interviews before they even
earned their college degrees in May and June. What is interesting to
note is that Rhee has vacillated from saying that teacher layoffs were
due to poor performance to saying that they are not due to performance
at all. So which one is it? You mean Rhee would have us believe that all
nine hundred of the newly hired teachers are all high performers and all
the veteran teachers are low performers? Might I suggest that this is
hogwash, for lack of a better word, and defies the research that states
it takes approximately three years for teachers to become effective.
These layoffs were promised by Rhee in her educational plan that came
eighteen months late into her administration. Rhee, by her own admission
and as indicated in the early GAO report, didn’t recognize the
importance of having an educational plan, and she only produced one
under pressure. Might I remind you when Rhee did create a plan it was a
promise to get rid of a significant share of her teaching workforce
through dismissals, buyouts, layoffs, and early retirement. Well she’s
accomplished that goal, now what’s next? The unending news releases of
layoffs show teachers and school counselors recounting horror stories of
their dismissals despite years and years of positive performance
evaluations. Most have yet to be informed about the real reasons for
their imminent layoffs and have not received the required competitive
level documentation forms. Students and parents report that these
mid-October dismissals have led to chaos and disruption in schools,
over-ratio of school counselors to students, consolidation of classes,
changes in class schedules, increased workloads for existing staff,
teachers working outside of their certification area, discretionary
classes being dropped, oversized classes, less highly qualified
teachers, and abruptly severed teacher relationships. What a way to
start the school year.
We all can agree that students’ experiences in school are not
enriched by such events as teacher layoffs, particularly during the
fall. It would be nice to avoid layoffs after school starts for these
reasons alone. Yet there is another compelling reason to prevent these
layoffs from taking place. These layoffs undermine the quality of our
highly qualified and certified teacher workforce, both immediately and
going forward. By laying off highly qualified and certified veteran
teachers and counselors you are guaranteeing that minority students are
more likely to have a teacher who does not meet the requirements of
being highly qualified and certified. This flawed layoff process of
selecting mostly veteran teachers to terminate is uninviting to future
teachers, counselors, and other school staff. As an education blogger in
residence at the Washington Teacher blog, I receive E-mails from
teachers across the United States asking me my opinion whether they
should apply to work in DCPS. I caution them strongly: let a word to the
wise be your guide. Don’t apply to DC now unless you want to be fired
and have your professional and personal life disrupted and sent into a
The Missions and Justice Committee of Sixth Presbyterian Church will
open a SERRV Gift Shop from October 18 to mid-January 2010. Items to
support this nonprofit organization will be sold each Sunday from 12:00
p.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. SERRV works with artisans and
farmers from over thirty countries. SERRV trains the people and helps
them develop and market their products to work their way out of poverty.
Visit the shop at 16th and Kennedy Streets, NW, to learn more about
SERRV and see the wonderful assortment of gifts. For more information,
CLASSIFIEDS — EVENTS
Open Government Meeting Reminder, October 21
Dorothy Brizill, email@example.com
On Wednesday, October 21, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., the DC Open
Government Coalition will hold a town hall meeting at the Charles Sumner
School, 17th and M Streets, NW, to discuss the lack of transparency in
decision making in the District government. The meeting will focus on
the growing difficulty citizens and reporters are experiencing with
regard to securing documents and government information, as well as
closed-door meeting in violation of the District’s “sunshine” law.
The DC Open Government Coalition (http://www.dcogc.com)
is a nonprofit organization that was created this past spring to enhance
the public’s access to government information and ensure the
transparency of government operations. The meeting will be moderated by
Colbert King of the Washington Post. The program will include a
panel discussion with Kathy Patterson; Lucy Dalgish, Reporters’
Committee for Freedom of the Press; Mark Segraves, WTOP; Bill Myers, Washington
Examiner; Ed Lazere, Fiscal Policy Institute; and Mara Verheyden-Hilliard,
Partnership for Civil Justice, lead attorney in the Pershing Park case.
Environmental Links to Breast Cancer, October
Cerise Bridges, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Environmental Leadership Program presents No Family History, a
film about the environmental links to breast cancer. An important movie
screening and discussion with filmmaker Dr. Sabrina McCormick. Thursday,
October 22, 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m., at the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Auditorium and Science Center, 1301
East-West Highway, Silver Spring (two blocks from the Silver Spring
metro station). RSVP to email@example.com
by October 20.
Department of Parks and Recreation Events,
October 23, 26, 28
John Stokes, firstname.lastname@example.org
October 23-December 11, 10:00 a.m.-10:45 a.m., Fridays. Juanita E.
Thornton / Shepherd Park Neighborhood Library, 7420 Georgia Avenue, NW.
Art For Kids — Abrakadoodle, a class for toddlers aged one year, eight
months to three years, eleven months and their parents to help develop
artistic ability while learning about color and texture. For more
information, call DPR Customer Service at 672-7647.
October 26-November 23, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Guy Mason Recreation
Center, 3600 Calvert Street, NW. Thanksgiving basket food drive. For the
Thanksgiving season, community members can drop off canned goods and
nonperishable food for families in need. For more information, call
Cleveland Dent at 282-2180.
October 28, 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m., King Greenleaf Recreation Center,
201 N Street, SW. Halloween Jam for children aged twelve and under.
Costume contest, movies, candy. Children will come and participate in
movie watching costume contest and candy giveaway. For more information
call Henry Moton, Site Manager, at 645-7454.
October 28, 3:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m., Thurgood Marshall Recreation Center,
3100 Fort Lincoln Drive, NE. Fall Festival. Youth will listen to music
and enjoy snacks and the festive events. For more information call Ricky
Davenport at 576-6818.
October 28, 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m., Guy Mason Recreation Center, 3600
Calvert Street, NW. Cheerleader Program for ages six through fifteen.
The Stoddert Shining Stars cheerleader team will meet every Wednesday at
the Guy Mason recreation center. The cheerleader team will continue to
learn the fundamentals of cheerleading on cheer techniques, jumping, and
stunting as well as moving on to the next level of basic cheerleading.
For more information, please call Cleveland Dent at 282-2180 or Belinda
Gee at 282-2199.
Let the people decide the definition of marriage. Let our people vote
— take it to the ballot box in 2010. Don’t let the mayor, delegate,
or DC council redefine marriage without taking the vote directly to the
people. Rally on Sunday, October 25, 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., on Freedom
Plaza, 14th and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.
Citizens must be allowed to vote on Election Day to approve or
disapprove the Marriage Initiative: “Only marriage between a man and a
woman is valid or recognized in the District of Columbia.” Please
contact Commissioner Bob King via phone at 427-2655 or by E-mail at email@example.com
for more information or to pledge your support for this event. Please
also confirm your attendance or the number of people you plan to send
from your organization.
Two critical hearings will be held on October 26 that need your
testimony and support to demand a vote on whether to redefine marriage:
at 10:00 a.m. the Board of Elections and Ethics, One Judiciary Square,
Room 280-North, 441 Fourth Street, NW, will hold a hearing to consider
whether to support the Marriage Initiative calling for a vote by the
people. To testify, contact Ms. Deborah Kelly, Legislative Clerk, at
724-7808, by fax at 724-6664, or via E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At 3:30 p.m., the DC council will hold a public hearing on the same-sex
marriage bill, Bill 18-482, the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage
Equality Amendment Act of 2009, in the Council Chambers, John Wilson
Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.
CapitalSpace Public Meeting, October 27
Don Edwards, email@example.com
Several local and federal agencies with distinct missions share
responsibility for planning and managing the city’s parks. For the
first time in forty years, these agencies are working together to plan
for the challenges and opportunities facing our open spaces. Please join
the National Capital Planning Commission, the Government of the District
of Columbia, and the National Park Service for an opportunity to learn
more about the recently released draft CapitalSpace Plan — a joint
initiative to improve and unify Washington’s park system.
Tuesday, October 27, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at the Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW. Near the Gallery Place/Chinatown and
Metro Center Metro Stations. Meet and Greet, 5:30-6:00 p.m.;
presentation and Q&A, 6:00-6:30 p.m.; and discussion, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
For links to the draft plan and to comment on the plan, go to http://capitalspace.gov/Draft_Plan/draftplan.htm.
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