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October 10, 2010

Cooperation and Collaboration

Dear Collaborators:

Why are you reading stuff on the Internet when it’s coming on to the third day of a three-day holiday weekend, and the weather has been beautiful? So I’ll keep it short.

You’ve read the poorly written and content-free argument published in today’s Washington Post as “How to Fix Our Schools: A Manifesto by Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, and other Education Leaders,” Usually foolish education fads are abandoned only after they have miseducated one or two generations of schoolchildren; remember the “New Math”? But the manifesto raises my hopes that this fad may have already peaked and be on the way out. If the empty rhetoric that this manifesto represents is all that this round of “education reform” has to offer, it won’t be around much longer.

The sixteen “education leaders” who signed the manifesto write as though wanting to have good teachers in schools is a new, innovative, approach to education that they have invented, and that others oppose them because they want to hire good teachers. Actually, all that is new in this movement is the belief that building good schools doesn’t come about through cooperation and collaboration with a dedicated teaching force but through confrontation, contention, and conflict with teachers. Valerie Strauss has already published a fuller takedown of “The Bankrupt ‘School Reform Manifesto’ of Rhee, Klein, Etc.,”, and it’s well worth your time even on a holiday weekend.

Robert McCartney’s column on Thursday,, compared Rhee’s reign as chancellor in Washington with Andres Alonso’s time as the chief executive of Baltimore’s school system. McCartney is no critic of Rhee’s, and in this column he sympathetically treats the argument for her methods. But he’s not blind to the stronger argument for Alonso’s cooperative style: “However, Baltimore’s experience demonstrates that Rhee’s tactics aren’t the only ones that yield results. Some experts say a more collaborative, low-profile strategy is more successful in the long run because it preserves trust and confidence with teachers and the community. ‘What Baltimore shows is that you can bring real change to urban schools without a lot of acrimony,’ said Jack Jennings, president of the independent Center on Education Policy. ‘The national foundations and some reform groups have made [Rhee] into a poster girl because they just want change, and she’s a highly vocal advocate for change. But others have brought about just as much change as she has, and I would guess that their reforms would last longer.’”

Gary Imhoff


Baby Doll Scams
Michael Bindner,

I find it ironic that the council is willing to save squirrel families, but will do nothing for children at risk who are participating in Baby Doll scams. Until we get child protection right, lets not spend any money saving abandoned wildlife. A few dedicated undercover officers working with child protection could stop this scam in a week — since word of enforcement gets around. Indeed, there are probably only a few perpetrators out there — we just need someone to care enough to intervene.


Letter to Ward 3 Neighbors
Erich Martel, ehmartel at starpower dot net

The following letter was distributed at the Ward 3 Community Meeting on Thursday, October 7. “Dear Ward 3 Neighbors and especially, Past, Present and Future DCPS Families: We are asking you to join us in welcoming Council Chairman and Presumptive Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray and his goal of One City to this important Ward 3 forum. He deserves the same opportunity to engage our hopes for quality teaching in our public schools and efficient residential services from our city agencies that we gave Mayor Adrian Fenty four years ago.

“Many of you know us as former teachers of your sons and daughters at Wilson High School. Most of you have read about the arbitrary way we were transferred from Wilson. This happened despite our established records of commitment to academic excellence, the integrity of student records and the high school diploma, and our advocating for safe and orderly schools that do not tolerate disruption. We hope that you, our Ward 3 neighbors, benefit from hearing Vince Gray explain his plans, just as Mayor Fenty did when he won the Democratic primary four years ago.”

The letter was signed by Dr. Art Siebens, who taught AP biology, introductory biology, anatomy and physiology, zoology and botany at Wilson from 1990 to 2008, when Wilson was restructured under NCLB, having failed to “make AYP” for five years. No explanation was given for the removal from Wilson; transferred to the Woodson ninth grade academy at Ron Brown and later, Woodson High School; now retired. It was cosigned by Mr. Erich Martel, who taught Modern World History and AP US History at Wilson for twenty-five years (after sixteen years at Cardozo HS); and was involuntarily transferred to Phelps ACE HS in the fall of 2010. This was “due to significant educational philosophy differences between you and the Wilson administration. . . .”


DPW and Columbus Day
Kevin B. Twine,

Most DPW services will be affected in observance of Columbus Day on Monday, October 11. Trash Collection: There will be no trash and recycling collections. Trash and recycling collections will “slide” to the next day for the remainder of the week. For example, Monday’s trash and recycling collections will be made on Tuesday and Tuesday’s collections will be made on Wednesday. In neighborhoods with twice-weekly trash collections, Monday and Thursday collections will be made Tuesday and Friday. Collections normally made on Tuesday and Friday, will be made Wednesday and Saturday. Trash and recycling containers should be placed out for collection no earlier than 6:30 p.m. the night before collection and removed from public space by 8:00 p.m. on the day(s) of collection.

Parking enforcement for meters, rush hour ticketing and towing, residential parking, abandoned vehicles towing, and booting will be suspended. Other violations — blocking a fire hydrant, crosswalk, bus stop, or driveway — will be enforced. household hazardous/electronic waste and shredding at Ft. Totten Trash Transfer Station Only:

The Ft. Totten trash transfer station (4900 John McCormack Drive, NE) will be closed for household hazardous/electronic waste and shredding on Monday, October 11 in observance of the holiday. Ft. Totten will reopen Tuesday, October 12, at 1:00 p.m. for residents to bring their trash and bulk items. Other services suspended for Columbus Day include scheduled street and alley cleaning and nuisance abatement. All services will resume Tuesday, October 12. For DPW’s trash and recycling holiday schedule for the remainder of the year, visit and click on Holiday Schedule under the “Information” header, or call the Mayor’s Citywide Call Center at 311.


InTowner October Issue
P.L. Wolff,

This is to advise that the October 2010 issue PDF (which includes all content, including the popular Scenes from the Past feature — this month titled “It Wasn’t a Castle, But the Mansion Built by Hearst’s Parents in Dupont Circle Was Impressive” — plus photos & other images), has now been posted on our web site,, and may be opened by clicking the front page graphic on the home page.

This month’s lead stories include the following: 1) “Dupont Circle House Tour to Feature Victorian, Beaux Arts, and Contemporary”; 2) “Major Streetscape Enhancement Proposals for 14th Street Above Thomas Circle Unveiled by DDOT”; 3) “The House on Florida Avenue.” The selected street crimes feature, which is separately posted on the web site, will be updated later on, at which time we will provide notification.

The next issue PDF will publish early in the morning of November 12 (the second Friday of the month as usual). For more information, either send an E-mail to or call 234-1717.



Smart Meter Education Workshop, October 14
Herbert H. Jones, III,

The Office of the People’s Counsel for the District of Columbia cordially invites you to attend our free smart meter education workshop to be held at The Sumner School, 1701 M Street, NW, on Thursday, October 14, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. We value your input and welcome any questions you may have regarding how the change of all customer electric meters in the city may affect you. This workshop will provide you with the resources to thoroughly understand the complex undertaking currently underway. You will leave this event with knowledge of why customer meters are being changed, how the installation process will be performed, what consumers must do to prepare for the change, and how services will differ in the future. Representatives will discuss the meter installation process, the impact on your bill, meter features. expected benefits, and anticipated challenges.

On behalf of Interim People’s Counsel Brenda K. Pennington, the Office thanks you in advance for your willingness to accept this invitation to ensure that the voices of District of Columbia consumers are incorporated into PEPCO’s plans. Additionally, we encourage you to share this information with your neighbors, ANC, civic and citizens associations. As we look forward to working with you to bring similar briefings to your community in the coming months. If you need additional assistance, or need to request interpreter service, please contact OPC at least 48 hours prior to the event at 727-3071.


Department of Parks and Recreation Events, October 13-17
John Stokes,

October 13, 20, 27, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Riggs LaSalle Community Center, 501 Riggs Road, NE. Diabetes Workshop for ages eighteen and up. Participants will receive information on diabetes. For more information, call Shirleta Settles at 576-5224.

October 15, 11:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Riggs LaSalle Community Center, 501 Riggs Road, NE. Golden Corral event for ages eighteen and up. Participants will choose from a variety of entrees. For more information, call Shirleta Settles at 576-5224.

October 15-17, 5:30 p.m. Friday to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Ft. Davis Recreation Center, 1400 41st Street, SE. Camp Riverview retreat. Youth will stay overnight at DPR’s wonderful campground; they will participate in fun and games and gain a great camping experience. For more information, call Elijah Fagans.

October 16, 12:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m., Stead Recreation Center, 1625 P Street, NW. Stead Park Sports Day for ages thirteen and under. This event is a fun family day that includes various sports, arts and crafts, music, prizes, and food and helps youth stay active and learn new sports. For more information, call Vincent E. Hill, 673-4465.

October 17, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Largo, Maryland. Six Flags Fall Championship for ages six through eighteen. The cheer team from Rosedale will compete in a cheer competition hosted at Six Flags America for more information, please visit For more information, call Brian Williams at 671-0314.

October 17, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Community College of Baltimore, Dundalk, Maryland. Fall Free Classic. The cheerleaders from Fort Lincoln Recreation Center will participate in a competitive cheer competition. For more details, please visit For more information, call K’Yanna Blackwell at 258-7501.


The 1910 Height Act, October 19
Abigail Lane,

The Committee of 100 on the Federal City invites you to The 1910 Height Act: A Centennial Celebration. How has the Height Act shaped Washington? Will DC become high, tight and dense? Featured speakers will be Steven E. Sher, Director of Zoning and Land Use Services, Holland & Knight LLP; and Bradley Truding, Chief Counsel and Legislative Director, Office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. The moderator will be William T. Miles, Staff Director, Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 19, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at Sumner School. Great Hall, 1201 17th Street, NW. Closest Metro: Farragut North. A reception will follow; no RSVP is required. The event is free and open to the public. For more information log onto


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