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Loose Lips Daily: The Teachers Get Fired Edition

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Good morning sweet readers! Flack of the day awards go to Parks and Rec spokesman John Stokes, who quickly responded to LL's query in yesterday's LL Daily about the number of yoots in the summer job program. (About 21,000 signed up for jobs, but only about 18,000 actually showed up to work the first week, which is about the normal rate of attrition, Stokes said). News time:

How Comes None of My Teachers Ever Got Fired?: The Examiner's Leah Fabel has the day's big news that schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee "will fire a large number of teachers and school staff by next week based on ineffective performance, said a top aide—a move certain to become a factor in the tight mayoral race. 'It's going to be a sizable number,' Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson said at a briefing Thursday about details of D.C. Public Schools' evaluation tool. The tool, called Impact, was used for the first time in 2009-2010 to determine employees' effectiveness, based mostly on five observations as well as measures of students' academic progress. Teachers evaluated as "highly effective" will be eligible for performance bonuses in 2010-11. Rhee declined to comment on the numbers, expected as early as Friday." The Examiner's Freeman Klopott has the breakdown on what the teacher firings means for the mayoral race, saying Mayor Adrian Fenty needs to make sure the firings are done in a transparent way.  'There are signs that Team Fenty could already be losing control of the public's perception of this firing round, too. A Rhee deputy let slip that a 'sizable' number of teachers are being cut not long after she turned a Thursday morning off-the-record meeting with reporters into one that was on the record. Rhee then refused to provide an exact number, leaving teachers, students and their parents in the dark just one month before school is set to start. But if Rhee and Fenty can take control of the message, the mayor will find the opportunity to flaunt his success over his rival." Note to Rhee: If Fast Company calls, LL suggests you let it ring to voicemail.

AFTER THE JUMP: Cronyism Explained; Man, There Are a Lot Of Cops 'Round Here; Togo to the Rescue;

One For The Cronies: The Post's Mike DeBonis takes a look at the charges of cronyism being thrown back and forth on the campaign trail between Fenty and council Chairman Vincent Gray. "That is the WMD in Gray's ethical arsenal: parks and recreation spending directed through the Housing Authority to be distributed, without council scrutiny, by firms run by Fenty allies. Fenty has not apologized and maintains that the contracts were legal. Investigations by the inspector general's office and an independent attorney appointed by the council are ongoing and unlikely to be completed before the Sept. 14 primary. No one has alleged that the work hasn't gotten done on time. But there are questions about the way the contracts were awarded and the price the city is paying for the work. Meanwhile, the Fenty campaign has been preoccupied with painting Gray as a creature of the old school, a feckless bureaucrat who as human services director in the early 1990s helped lead the city into fiscal ruin." Did you know the word crony, according to one of LL's favorite websites, originated in the 1660s in Cambridge as student slang deriving from the Greek word "khronios," which means "long-lasting"?  The negative connotation of cronyism, meaning "appointment of friends to important positions, regardless of ability" originated in the States around the 1950s.

Crisis Averted: Fenty nominates Togo West, former U.S. secretary of veteran affairs and of the Army, to the short-staffed Board of Elections and Ethics, reports the Post's Nikita Stewart. Councilmembers seem pleased with the pick. "The D.C. Council and Fenty have often clashed over the mayor's choices for boards and commissions, with council members frequently questioning the experience of nominees. In the past, Fenty has dipped into a pool of his running buddies, fraternity brothers and his wife's friends to fill seats on boards." LL alternate history scenario: If Fenty had been appointing people like West all along for important jobs around the city, would Gray even be running against him? And if not, has the campaign already had an effect on the way the city's run?

Freeze, It's the National Institute of Health Police!: Gray nabbed the endorsement of 11,000 members of the D.C. Fraternal Order of Police Lodge, Tim Craig has at D.C. Wire. Tip of the hat to Craig for listing the law enforcement agencies in this town. "Now, Gray can also claim support from some police officers, law enforcement personnel and security guards who work for: the D.C. Housing Authority, the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Capitol Police, Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms Bureau, U.S. Secret Service, National Institute of Health Police, U.S. Park Police, Department of Defense, D.C. Department of Corrections, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs, Metro Transit Police, Library of Congress, Drug Enforcement Agency, Internal Revenue Service, Supreme Court, Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Naval Investigate Service, Postal Police, Federal Protective Service, Department of Labor, Bureau of Engraving & Printing, National Zoological Police, Amtrak Police, Department of Health and Human Services, Defense Protective Service, U.S. Mint Police, Naval District Washington and Walter Reed Army Medical Center."

Co-Mayor Nickles: The Examiner's Harry Jaffe looks at the recent firing of juvenile justice interim director Marc Schindler, and says it's okay because his predecessor was too much of a coddler. What!? Sucks to be Schindler. LL hopes he doesn't get canned for any of DeBonis' antics. "Under Vinnie Schiraldi, the pendulum swung too far toward rehabilitation and turned the detention system into a sieve. [Attorney General Peter] Nickles investigated the recent shootings on South Capitol Street where young people who had been in the city's care shot up and killed innocent kids. He looked into the killing of principal Brian Betts, again by kids who the city agency knew were violent. He attended forums where citizens said they were not being protected. 'I listened,' he said. 'You have to balance reform with safety on the street. People have to trust the reform. They were losing confidence.'[Robert] Hildum is a 180 degree change from Schiraldi. He will be tough. He will open up the system to public scrutiny. He will strengthen the detention process." The Post editorial board takes a look at the issue and finds fault with advocates who are angry at Schindler's firing.

Watch and Learn, Grasshopper: LL once worked for a plumber, who yelled at him for not sweeping up in a concerted and thoughtful way. The plumber told LL, you have to be able to do the simple things correctly, like sweeping, before you can do the more complicated things, like redoing a house's plumbing. This story reminds LL of that lesson: "Metro escalator problems continue to plague agency." [Examiner]

Rhee looks to increase voucher program [Times]

Struggling homeowners line up for help [News8]

Should urbanists worry about Gray? [GGWash]

Fenty schedule: 10:45 a.m.1809 I Street, NE, remarks on homelessness.

Plotkin's on at 10, Kojo and Tom Sherwood at noon.

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  • Truth Hurts

    Gray and Barry steered the lottery contract to their cronies? No way. Let me be the first to call upon DC's chief contracting officer and its AG to resign for having the audacity to suggest irregularities with the contract award. And if the IG launches an investigation, he should resign too.

    About right, Vince?

  • tired

    T.H. please stop pulling stuff from your behind this is getting really old.

  • tired

    Just a thought check Fenty's cronies out and his frat brothers, which we all know that the money was stolen from the taxpayers. Can someone say Ron Moten. Let just say start a federal investigation.

  • S.E.

    Let's just have the Feds investigate all of them, eh Truth?

  • downtown rez

    S.E.: I'd be good with that.
    The way I see it, these lottery contracts are pretty much the holy-grail of old-school-machine-building graft. Here's a brief story-arc for how it has worked/would work:
    By ginning up support for LSDBS and local pride, certain favored cronies are inserted as a minority partner into a multi-million dollar contract. This lottery contract is sure to be renewed (and in a down economy expanded) year after year and, as time goes on, the the former minority shareholder becomes the majority shareholder. At that point, the "LSDBS" company diversifies and starts providing additional services (at additional cost to the taxpayer, natch). The quid pro quo comes in at returning political favors. These returned favors can take many forms, from the obvious forms such as independent and bundled campaign donations, to the less obvious such as hiring the friends and allies of political benefactors, funding "grass roots" organizations, political advertising, and preferential service providing. The only real limit is the human imagination.
    Really- this is about old school political machine building in its purest form. By all means, investigate it.

  • S.E.

    I say investigate everything, everyone.

    Question: Wasn't the lottery started to help fund education? If so, what happened?

  • Truth Hurts

    I second Drez. S.E.: If you want to know what happened to the lottery contract, all you need to do is click on the lottery contract link in Suderman's Sunday blog about ward 7. The numerous linked articles document what happened: Gray, Barry and Thomas steered 51% of the contract to Gray/Barry cronies (following behind the scene meetings with cronies' lobbyist) after Gray repeatedly refused to schedule a vote on the highest scoring contract bidder under the city's established procurement process.

    But I'm guessing you already know that and/or don't care. One city full of hypocrites.

  • DC Resident

    Arrogant. Corrupt. Petty. Stubborn. Incompetent.

    Fenty is DC's version of George Bush. Peter Nickles is his Dick Cheney.

  • Phill Lombardo

    Michelle Rhee is a product of the Broad Superintendents Academy. To understand Michelle Rhee, you need to understand Eli Broad. I suggest that readers of this blog learn about him. He gave an interview in the Bloomberg News Letter which is particularly informative. It can be accessed on the web.
    Eli Broad, who started his career as an account, is an advocate of the free market. After all, it made him a billionaire. He wants to turn public education into a free market enterprise. Broad believes that a top-down business strategy is the way to do it. The purpose of the Broad Superintendents Academy is to create top-down managers like Michelle Rhee, Debra Gist, and Robert Bobb.
    Eli Broad is attempting to dismantle public education. I’m a bean counter just like Eli Broad. I assure you that a public school system which offers teachers $20K to $30K bonuses on top of a 21% salary increase is not sustainable. Such pay-outs will not generate the revenue necessary to continue future salary and bonuses. Schools are not Fortune 500 corporations.
    Furthermore, mass firings based on an unproven evaluation tool such as IMPACT seriously threatens to deplete the district work force, as well as draw attention away from factors, other than teacher performance, that are causing students to fail.
    Michelle Rhee fired 241 teachers this year and gave 737 teachers notice that they will be fired next year if they don’t improve. The D.C. District teacher work force is only 4,000 teachers. It will not survive such a continuous turnover of personnel.
    Parents, your kids are in jeopardy. Wise up before it is too late!

  • sedcdude

    I've said it before and I'll say it agail, RHEE would not do this bullshit in Florida, Mass., Texas, Boston, Ariz, Cali or any other predominantly white jurisdiction, you better believe that shit!

    It pains me that minorities stand by and allow this bullshit to fly in the face of all the other "test tube" experiments gone wry in this city!!

    Too much political grandstanding, posturing and bullshitting for my liking! If you truly care, do what's right, if you wanna make a difference, FIX the problem, make the "necessary" changes to OBVIOUS problems, not this PC crap that gains you brownie points at the expense of DC children, services and tax dollars!!!

    A bunch of empty, hypocritical suits who have yet to figure out that their shit STINKS and baaaad!

  • downtown rez

    This parent likes what he sees. Do you have kids in DCPS?
    More importantly, do you think "public education" in DC, let alone the WTU, is sustainable at the pre-Fenty/Rhee freefall decrease rate of student enrollment? Because I give DCPS and WTU a decade or so if her reforms stop.
    Make no mistakes- if DCPS reforms stop or, god forbid, roll back, charter and private schools are the only winners.

  • sedcdude

    Drez, you are full of shit, with your transplanted ass!!!

    If you've been in DC more than 5 years my name is Ricky "Manspunk" Mangus and that got dayuum sure ain't the case!!!!!

    Your sarcasm and pompous rant is indicative of the RACIST motives behind this KOREAN'S flunkified hack job of DCPS!!!!

    BLACK teachers are being "targeted" and systematically removed due to the RACIST influence of WHITES, ASIANS and INDIANS who have "migrated", snuck in and crawled their way into DC daily existence, but DO NOT want their children taught by competent, committed and CERTIFIED BLACK EDUCATORS, further dividing and gentrifying this city!!

    Wake up people!!