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Loose Lips Daily: The Other Kind of Race Edition

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  • Michael D. Brown Not Giving Up
  • Fenty Not Allowed To Switch Teams
  • Good afternoon sweet readers! LL apologizes for the lateness of this roundup, but felt like he couldn't miss presumptive Mayor-elect Vincent Gray's news conference this morning. Turns out, LL could have skipped the 90 minutes bore-a-thon just fine. Also a big thanks to whoever or whatever it was that gave LL and his pregnant wife food poisoning this weekend. Wait, LL takes that back. Screw you! News time:

    Let's Talk About Race: Two articles this weekend on race. Kojo Nnamdi, writing in the Post, voices concerns in an article "For D.C., Vince Gray's election is a bold step backwards," about the level of hatred black voters had for Adrian Fenty. "I am nevertheless disturbed by the level of hostility that was directed at Fenty, the outright hatred that seemed to come so easily to many African Americans I know, a hatred that seemed even more extreme regarding Schools Chancellor [Michelle] Rhee." Nnamdi goes on to outline Gray's difficult task of moving beyond that hate. "Gray, the presumptive new mayor, will govern a diverse city. The thrill of his not being Fenty will soon wear off. He will be confronted by demands to continue school reform with Michelle Rhee and demands to continue school reform without Michelle Rhee. He'll be asked to do that without hurting anyone. Black and white residents will demand to know, without explicitly saying so, whose side he's on."

    The next article, "How D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty lost the black vote—and his job" by Posties Paul Schwartzman and Chris Jenkins, discusses how Fenty disengaged with the black community (but what about the go-go concerts?), and it cost him his job. Of note: The firing of black school employees did not win the mayor many friends in the black community. "Although blacks and whites recognize the importance of the public schools as a vehicle for educating their children, blacks also see the school system as a primary employer, providing jobs to thousands of teachers, school bus drivers, administrators and secretaries. When Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee laid off hundreds of teachers, many blacks saw something more than a simple purge of poorly performing educators. They saw an assault on economic opportunity.

    'He fired those teachers, that did it for me,' said Wilson Givens, a retired, black equipment operator who lives in Anacostia, in Southeast, and voted for Fenty in 2006. 'Does he understand that a job is a family's livelihood? I didn't know anybody who was fired personally, but I can relate. I know how it feels, and I felt for those teachers and their families. That was it for me. Would never trust him again.'"

    AFTER THE JUMP: What's next for Gray; Competing Tensions; Management Lessons; Cabbies explained...

    Can We Work It Out: The Post's Tim Craig and Mike DeBonis look at the upcoming transition period and find that "Fenty and Gray will have to work together to address a midyear budget deficit that some predict could approach $100 million. The men, who haven't had a face-to-face meeting for nearly a year, plan to sit down together this week. They must continue to run a city-owned hospital and determine the fate of dozens of appointees to boards and commissions who have not been confirmed." Both men have pledged to cooperate and Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser says everyone's "tired" of all the conflict between the council and mayor's office. (Bowser, though, already doesn't seem very popular with the new administration, so she may very well be hoping the conflict ends.)

    WBJ's Michael Neibauer looks at the competing interests Gray will face from developers, the business community and unions. Mogul Doug Jemal says Gray is "very, very competent man" who knows how important developers are to the city's economy. The D.C. Chamber of commerce also wants Gray to cut the reams of red tape that hinder businesses, while the unions want Gray to help protect their workers. "Gray’s message is one of inclusiveness — of 'One City.' Everybody should have a voice and a role in moving the city forward, he said after the election. But he can’t please everybody." Jonetta Rose Barras adds her two cents, reminding us that Gray made a lot of promises on the campaign trail that won't be affordable given how tight the city's budget is.

    The Gray Lady tells the world that Gray is deliberative: Ian Urbina writing in the New York Times lets everyone know that Gray is a deliberative consensus builder, rather than a 100 mph mover and shaker. Slate notices this interesting round of no-comments from Gray's staff: "Mr. Gray’s Council staff members, none of whom would allow themselves to be quoted by name, say he is often the first in the office and the last to leave. They described him as even-keeled, private and deliberative." Memo to Vince: Tell your staff to use their names when talking about your good staff.

    Yawn, Are You Still Talking About That?: The Post editorial board says, again, that independent voters should be able to vote in party primaries.

    Is What Eleanor Did OK? Ben Pershing at the Post finds a lawyer who can vouch for Eleanor Holmes Norton's recorded phone message where she pretty much tells a lobbyist to pay up. "Kenneth A. Gross, a lawyer with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom who has had clients in both parties, said it seemed clear to him that the call didn't violate any rules. 'It is permissible to talk about committee assignments and chairmanships,' Gross said. 'There was nothing in the message that linked the solicitation to a particular project. She was outlining some of the big projects she was working on. I see nothing actionable in that message.'"

    Imhoff v. The World: D.C. Watch's Gary Imhoff scolds the media for misinterpreting what the race was about.

    Chris Cillizza goes out on a limb to say that Fenty had a pretty bad week [Post]

    Mona Charen calls Fenty's loss a "travesty," blames President Obama [Examiner]

    What managers can learn from Fenty's loss 1) Listen to others 2) Don't surround yourself with yes men 3) Learn from mistakes [CapBiz]

    Mendo wants to kids who get their bells rung to be examined [AP]

    Colby says it's time for Rhee to go, again [Post]

    Cabbies didn't buck Fenty over meters [Post]

    • Sojourner

      Just the facts: Shaw Middle School's scores did not even stay about the same. They went down -- reading scores declined from 38.52% in ’08 to 29.20% in ’09 and it’s math scores went from 33.33% to 29.02%. This can easily be verified at the official website http://nclb.osse.dc.gov. Did you not check? Did you just take Chancellor Rhee’s or Principal Betts’ word on it? The fact that Shaw’s scores didn’t go up is a major embarrassment for Rhee. She installed a new principal, who hired a new staff, selected for being young and “unjaded” and he paid the kids for good behavior and attendance. It seems imperative that Rhee is asked to re-examine her determination to pursue this method and not gloss over an obvious failure with her ongoing pathological prevarication & misrepresentation of the facts. (as per writer "efavorite")
      Michelle is full of herself..... and facts show... Her scores went down ! The ironic part is watching Rhee loyalists twisting themselves into pretzels to rationalize a 4% drop in D.C. elementary school test scores. Suddenly, the entire test-and-punish crowd is explaining to us how test scores don't mean anything and how test scores are tied much more to out-of-school conditions. The problem is that she has made rising standardized test scores a central measure for achievement -- hers, students and teachers, writes Washington Post columnist Valerie Strauss. So, feel free to judge Rhee on her insistence on placing so much importance on test scores (as have today’s other titans of education reform, such as Joel Klein in New York City). She believes they are so important, in fact, that she recently announced that she wants to expand their use in city schools, so that, in time, every D.C. student from kindergarten through high school is regularly assessed to measure academic progress and teacher effectiveness. But judging her reforms on the actual test scores, well, as my kids say, “Not so much.” -- Posted by Mike Klonsky

    • Sojourner


      Michelle Rhee, unaccountable & unqualified

      "The DCPS had lower math test scores
      in grades 4 and 8 in 2009,
      and District African-American
      test scores went down" .......

      read & view the
      data =>


    • downtown rez

      Colby says it’s time for Rhee to go, again [Post]
      Hmmm... The way I read Colby is that he is saying Gray and Rhee should collaborate to do what is best for the children, not that they should do what their respective power bases are asking of them.

    • downtown rez

      You are cherry-picking data. I assume you are aware that Shaw MS was closed as a regular school and only a core group of special needs children continued there after the others were assigned to other schools?

    • Adrian Bent-Me

      Drez- what are you really trying to sell us on here? My kids attend crappy DCPS schools. I attended a crappy DCPS. I sincerely would love for it to change, especially for their sake, knowing full well what I had to deal with. The problem is that so far I haven't seen much improvements in anything that would cause me to treat this woman as the next savior. I know that one can't change generations of crap in a matter of years, but that's what she claimed she could do and never bothered to ask for help/advice/feedback from anyone. A lot of people praise her for this method. I do not. At the end of the day, she'll need help at some point, but then it will be too late because everyone will have written her off. If you've hedged the entire success of your program on performance enhancement of most of the schools, then you should only be rightly judged by this performance. Not so?

    • SEis4ME

      Drez, Colby was being generous. In the same article, he clearly states that there is only a slim chance that Rhee will tell Gray that she plans on sticking around. she likely won't stay and the city would fare much better once she leaves.

      BTW, cherry picking data? Isn't that what the Fenty/Rhee administration has done. The tactic was captured in full by Rhee's inability to explain the recent fact showing how the 4th grade reading numbers decline? In short, every one cherry picks to serve their own purpose.

    • DCPSparent

      "People are not 'working together to make sure Rhee sticks around' because she is an awful school superintendent. She can not differentiate between the truth and its opposite. She is all about self-promotion and personal gain, and she does not care one whit whether students succeed… except as it may be spun for her own personal benefit. She has proven again and again that she does not understand how to be a leader who can motivate teachers and students to achieve at their highest levels, and she has waged personal vendettas against anyone who has opposed her policies and practices.
      I am sure I have left out a few reasons why stakeholders do not rally round Rhee. But basically it comes down to this: people do not rally round those who neither respect them nor treat them in an honest, straightforward manner. Most especially, people do not rally round people who are ready to step all over them in order to promote themselves. Rhee has been all about self-promotion and does not deserve support."
      Read more
      insightful commentary about
      the real Michelle Rhee ==>

    • DCPSparent

      dcpsparent :
      re: Michelle Rhee's "mom friendly" comment, prepared specifically for the Oprah show, about moms not tolerating mediocre teachers being given time to grow and develop professionally. ------- Well,,,,,The unqualified, needing-to-grow-professionally, (newbie 'Teach for America') "TFA" principal that Rhee PUSHED on our school, despite protests from a panel of engaged, informed, truly progressive, professional educators and parents with advanced degrees in education . . . hired and protected even more inexperienced, unqualified teachers who will take YEARS to develop into true professionals. But the principal and those teachers all know how to say "yes" to their boss. Too bad they don't know the basics of how children learn, or the nuances of curriculum and instruction. It is hard, hard work indeed to have to reprogram my kids every day after school, to get them to embrace and understand learning again. Rhee's influential, BAD decisions and practices, more than ANY OTHER failure of the DC Public School system, has me on the verge of pulling my kids out of school. Rhee embarrassed herself mightily at the DC screening of this film with her comment insulting DC voters. My kids, and the 350 others in their school, will not be devastated at all when she leaves. We assume she will head to the business world for which she may have more appropriate skills."

    • tired

      Can someone help me out does Ms. Rhee have a degree of any kind?

    • downtown rez

      Test scores are way from 20007-2010.
      That's real progress.

      Of course union cash does pay for a lot of sharp knives.

    • noodlez




    • http://.. Marie Jackson

      I think the media is hell bent on starting a "race war" over Rhee.


    • Adrian Bent-Me

      Drez- http://dcist.com/2010/07/2010_dcps_test_scores_decline.php

      I guess you didn't cherry pick your information either...

    • Pingback: Jessica Alba? | celeb life

    • …….

      Marie, I absolutely agree with you. I'm so sick of the black vs. white thing here. I'm neither pro Rhee, nor am I against her. There are some things she's done that I've approved of and others I simply can not abide by. Yes, the ineffective teachers needed to be weeded out of the system, however, there should've been a formal process in place to document their ineffectiveness. I also believe that some good teachers were let go in the mad dash to say the school system made necessary cuts. Rhee's biggest mistake was trying to be like Fenty and not feel the need to communicate with people. Everyone, black and white, wants the very best education for their kids. She needed to understand that giving "face time" to parents is not a bad thing and doesn't undermine her desire for change.

    • incredulous

      Please find the three 10 minute video segments PBS taped with late Shaw MS principal Brian Betts. Impressive no end. Betts could articulate what Michelle Rhee never could, describe the extraordinary resources made available to him to make a difference at Shaw. Peer mentoring, regular consultation, specialist support, you name it. The video shows some of it. And this was a principal who dropped in on every classroom most days to spend a few minutes watching. Complete rapport with the majority of his staff, and doing everything by the 'accountability" book.

      Then, there are the test scores, AFTER Betts explicitly states the curriculum and instruction was all designed around those tests.

      That's the thing with evidence. It IS some nasty shit. The patient dies anyway, after SOTA treatment. The students' test performances don't improve.

      Just one case, and not generalizeable. Not a happy ending, and it's not over for the students. But.......

    • downtown rez

      @ ABM
      I guess you didn’t cherry pick your information either…
      No, ABM, I didn't. You, however you did. Again.
      The article you site considers only 2009, and shows that in 2009 scores fell slightly in 2 of four categories. However, scores also rose in the other two categories.
      Here is the four year trend,.
      It shows that DCPS scores are up dramatically from 2007-2010. In most cases, these are double-digit gains. These real advances in student performance are unprecedented in DCPS. They would be remarkable anywhere in the country. That's why Obama gave us $75 million, and why private foundations have also contributed additional millions. Good schools and the quality education they provide are key to breaking the cycle of unemployment and multigenerational poverty, and are also key to building a stable middle class and ending defacto segregation.
      And the union spend millions to toss it away. They say "We're protecting or members". I say: "By objecting to the termination of hundreds, you are endangering the future of tens of thousands."
      There is a bigger picture, and at the end of the day they just don't care.

    • Really?

      Efavorite wrote “scores have been going up* for over a decade, long before Rhee arrived and under six different superintendents, for example,

      4th grade Math
      1996 – 187
      2000 – 192
      2003 – 205
      2005 – 211
      2007 – 214
      2009 – 219

      8th grade Math
      1996 – 233
      2000 – 235
      2003 – 243
      2005 – 245
      2007 – 248
      2009 – 254

      4th grade Reading
      1998 – 179
      2002 – 191
      2003 – 188
      2005 – 191
      2007 – 197
      2009 – 202

      8th Grade reading
      1998 – 236
      2002 – 240
      2003 – 239
      2005 – 238
      2007 – 241
      2009 – 242

      *[reading scores dipped a little between ‘02-’03 (4th grade) and ’02-’05 (8th grade) but rebounded and improved before Rhee arrived in July ’07. The tests were taken in spring, ’07.]

      *Source: NCSC Nations Report Card(then click on “District of Columbia”)

    • Really?

      Analysis from favorite on 2010 DC CAS Scores

      “Now I get it, The Post is giving Rhee credit for closing the achievement gap BEFORE SHE EVEN ARRIVED. It is the only way to cherry pick improvement from otherwise disappointing scores. The DC-CAS test is taken in the spring; Rhee didn’t arrive until the summer of 2007.

      Counting the DC-CAS taken in the spring of 2007, then the 10th grade reading gap (the only grade that takes the test in high school) has closed a bit (1.7 points), from 46.6% in 2007 to 44.9% in 2010.

      However, using only the 10th grade reading tests taken under Rhee’s watch, the gap has widened 6.5 points, from 38.4 in 2008 to 44.9% in 2010.

      The news is a little better for Rhee on math. In 2007, before she arrived, the gap was 53.1%. Compared to 2010, it narrowed 4.8 points to 48.3%. However, after widening a bit in 2008 (54.4% and narrowing again in 2009 (42.9%), it widened to 48.3% in 2010.

      The achievement gap is similar, but worse, for Rhee, among Hispanic 10th graders, and the reading and math achievement gap numbers are abysmal for minority 3rd graders, which of course, this editorial does not mention.

      So, now let’s parse the section in the editorial about the achievement gap, with comments in [brackets]:

      “There also has been success [as well as failure] in shrinking the achievement gap between white and minority students [only 10thgrade math improved and only by 2 or 3 points] between 2007 and 2010 on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System [But Rhee can’t be credited for gains in 2007, because she wasn’t here yet]. African American students in particular had success in closing the gap [Their losses under Rhee’s watch weren’t as great as Hispanic losses], with the most significant gains [that is, the ONLY minority gains], on the secondary level.” [There were no gains at the elementary level.]

    • Really?

      Official DC website for DC-CAS scores:

      Website of retired DCPS math teacher that analyzes the scores, using official information: http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/

      Specific pages on the Brandenburg blog used for this post:

      And I see Brandenburg has just posted his own analysis of WaPo’s spin on the DC-CAS scores at:

    • downtown rez

      Talk about the gap is intended to obscure the fact that outstanding (and roughly equal) progress has been made by all. Black, white, yellow, and green.
      This spin is intended to incite discontent with what is the first real quantifiable progress DC schools have made since... pretty much ever.
      If you care about children and DC's future, don't take the haters at face value, take the time to look into it yourself.

    • Adrian Bent-Me

      My kids are too young for secondary stats alone Drez:

      Preliminary Reading and Math Proficiency Rates
      On the 2010 DC CAS, District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS):

      •44.4% of elementary students in reading, down 4.4% from 2009
      •43.4% of elementary students in math, down 4.6% from 2009
      •43.3% of secondary students in reading, up 3.2% from 2009
      •43.7% of secondary students in math, up 4.1% from 2009

    • Really?

      Dowtown rez: the progress is all smoke and mirrors. The site you linked to is a DCPS Press Release. The same DCPS who refuses to answer FOIA's about their test results.

      That's spin! The information I provided dispels that and shows that the gap between "black, white, yellow and green" is wider.

      The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the only nationally representative assessment, while the DC-CAS is well, an examination administered by D.C.
      Dowtown rez take a look at this particular link

      and ask yourself why are the numbers so different between those that the NAEP found proficient and those that D.C. CAS found proficient and why were we they only State to have such a wide disparities between numbers?
      Rhee-is the queen of Spin and PR.

    • Really?

      Lastly, to say that progress is just being made is unfair and "spin". If you look at the 2nd chart in the press release you wil see that the double digit gains came in 2007 and 2008. Rhee didn't get here until the summer of 07. So the credit would go to Jannay using your press release.

    • downtown rez

      Success has many parents, yet failure is an orphan.
      In light of that, I am happy to attribute a portion of the the gains to Janey's planning, a portion to Rhee who modified and implimented Janey's planning, and a portion to Allen Lew who greatly improved the physical condition of all schools- even those that were not completely rehabilitated. Heck, I'm even happy to credit the DCPS parents, students, and teachers.
      What I'm not willing to do is believe those who have a vested interest in demonizing the Chancellor who provided the greatest period of school improvements and student test gains that DC has ever seen. And none of the other parents I know are willing to do that either.
      Go sell your apples to oranges comparisons, and go pick your cherries elsewhere. :)

    • Adrian Bent-Me

      Drez- I've looked and could not find a school by school breakdown of test scores for the last few years. If you are privileged to this information, please share. I'll stand by what I've seen until then. Even in gentrified areas, like mine, the DCPS are still pretty bad and there have been no marked improvements. I'm not trying to isolate any data, but the data provided isn't that great either.
      Like I've said before, I have no desire to make Rhee out to be something that she isn't (she's doing a fine job of this on her own). I want information that she seems reluctant to share.

    • Really?

      No one has a “vested” interest in bashing Rhee. What many educational stakeholders have is a vested interest in is accountability and for those who idolize false Gods, ala Rhee, to give credit where credit is due.

      It wasn’t all about her (which she doesn’t seem to think) and she was the benefactor of being in the right place at the right time (i.e. mayoral control) as well as the recipient of a foundation that was laid by those who came before her.

      It’s like that cousin who benefited from the trust fund left by their parents. The cousin didn’t do the work to build up that wealth; it was their parent who spent many long days and nights building a reserve for the next generation to use.

      Downtown Rez I hope that your circle of parents includes those from Hardy Middle School, or maybe Banneker, or maybe McKinley Tech, or maybe Thomson Elementary, just to name a few. I’m sure if that if you were friends with parents at these schools you would hear dissenting opinions about Rhee and her effect on their children. I never cherry picked stats and given more than enough proof of that. You know sometimes people see what they want to see and have a hard time with dealing with reality.

    • downtown rez

      This information (2009-2010) is available from the DCPS website under "School Profiles". No doubt there are other sources. I've made it a point to get to know the principal and others within DCPS. IMO it is the right thing to do as a parent- for the children, for the school, and to be a more informed citizen.

      We clearly disagree. My continuing sense is that your attempts to explain the obvious progress in DCPS runs afoul of Occam's razor.