Loose Lips

Gray’s Two Education Picks have Rhee-Like Resumes

Former Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and Almost Mayor Vince Gray may not have gotten along very well, but it's clear that Rhee rubbed off at least a little on Gray.

Take the fact that Gray's picks for his deputy mayor for education and head of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education both have Rhee-like resumes: Classroom experience before diving deep into the education-industrial complex.

De'Shawn Wright, Gray's pick to be deputy mayor, seems well-suited to continue Rhee's aggressive push to get overly rich patrons to give part of their fortunes to public schooling. Wright is currently a senior adviser to Still Mayor Adrian Fenty's doppelganger, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, where he's led "collaborative efforts" to raise and invest $250 million worth of private funds into Newarks schools, Gray boasted at a news conference today announcing his picks.

Wright also the founding partner of the Newark Charter School Fund, which raised money from some of the same foundations that were so critical for Rhee's efforts, including the Gates, Robertson and Walton Foundations. Gray made sure to mentioned those foundations by name at his presser.

Gray also named Hosanna Mahaley to head the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. Mahaley was president of the Atlanta Education Fund from 2007 to 2009, which, you guessed it, raises private funds to pay for school reform efforts. And look to how Gray's press release on Mahaley describes her time as the chief of staff in the Chicago Public School system: "She executed a controversial school reform initiative, which included closing underperforming schools and replacing them with high quality classrooms." Sound familiar?

And then there's Gray's pick to replace Rhee, interim Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, who has long been one of Rhee's top deputies, both at DCPS and at the New Teacher Project nonprofit. (Gray, btw, said today that he has no intention of naming Henderson his permanent chancellor anytime soon, despite what you may have heard from some other media outlets. That's no dis on Henderson; Gray has said several times he's happy with the job she's been doing.)

Gray picked Katherine Bradley, whose Citybridge Foundation was also a big Rhee donor, to co-lead the education part of his transition team. From the sound of it at today's news conference, the transition team had a big role in picking Wright and Mahaley, while the Washington Teachers Union had little or no say.

Remember after the election all that chatter about Gray being in the unions' pockets and Rhee's reform efforts going out the window? Yeah— it's not happening.

  • Truth Hurts

    Why no reaction/quote from Nathan "sitting down with Gray" Saunders? Surely the approx 600 teachers who elected him WTU prez expected Saunders to deliver something better.

  • commenter guy

    Good picks. This pair has potential. Those of us who voted for Gray because he promised to continue the path of education reform but be more collaborative, less politically stupid, and more inclusive of charters are going to be happy.

  • Skipper

    No reaction from the teacher union hacks?

  • Linda Johnson

    I can't speak for others but I am not against "reform." Is there anyone out there who doesn't want better education for all children? I don't think so.

    What I was against was the humiliation, insults and possible fraud regarding the treatment of DC teachers. Since the election of Gray, there has been civil discourse, mention of birth to college education (the reform that many teachers want) and talk of collaboration. Significantly Kay Henderson and others are referring to teachers with respect. That's huge for me.

    I think we'll see positive change and teachers will be part of the solution. Mr. Gray is smart enough to know that change can't happen without the cooperation of the people who elect to be in the classrooms with the students.

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  • Here me out

    There's a line at all of the U-haul stations. Whites are saying...that's it!!! Now everyone is drinking straight black coffee in education. What were the chances of a black mayor picking a black educational staff in a city that has a majority of black students in the school system? I think the year of gimmickery is gone by the wayside...really we have ALREADY experienced the white-male Deputy Mayor for Education, Asian Chancellor and white-female State Superintendent.

  • LOL

    He is sending a message to Race to the Top people aka Arne Duncan aka the person whom Hosanna Mahaley served as chief of staff in Chicago. Interesting move.

  • DC Respected Common People

    Why was the president of UDC front and center, it is because of the two community colleges receipt of non-competitive federal government funding. They receive it in 2010, and will probably again in 2011 that's illegal.

    Since, this president is so DAMN good let him raise federal funds by bidding, and educate his Executive staff on how to effectively deal with the public and stop the underhand garbage.

    Getting down to the DC public educational process, if Gray is not in control of new policies to improve the system then it will not work. This leader lacks self-esteem and must be in full control.

  • DC Respected Common People

    Why was the president of UDC front and center, it is because of the two community colleges receipt of non-competitive federal government funding. They received these funds in 2010, and will probably again in 2011 ALL illegal because the feds' require competitive bidding on their dollars sent to DC for issuance.

    Now, if this president of UDC is so DAMN good let him raise federal funds by bidding, and educate his Executive staff on how to effectively deal with the public and stop the underhand garbage.

    Next, getting down to the DC public educational process, if Gray is not in control of new policies to improve the system then it will not work. This leader is truly a MAN that lacks self-esteem and must have FULL control.

  • Drez

    On this front: so far, so good.

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