Testifying at City Council Oversight Hearingj

I testified today at the D.C. City Council Committree of the Whole Oversight hearing.


  • Only a handful of council members were actually present: Gray, H Thomas Jr, both Browns (from time to time), and Wells (later) were the ones I saw and recognized, and who spoke on the record from time to time.  There were a number of other staffers sitting on the dais, but I guess they weren’t the actual council members. Since I don’t watch TV news, I really don’t know all of the council members by face.
  • A lot of the people testifying were teachers who were complaining about having been RIFed or otherwise wrongfully fired.
  • Vincent Gray pointed out that there were STILL no official enrollment figures for DCPS for the current school yeare – and it is now March. It is possible that the increase in enrollment in newly-created pre-K progams in DCPS may be masking a decline in the secondary schools in the preliminary figures that have been received.
  • Mary Levy, who has been analyzing the budget figures on DCPS for many years, testified that she only thought that there was a 20% chance that the budget crisis of last fall, which was used to justify the firing of hundreds of teachers and staffers, was real. She also said that it appears that AFTER that RIF, 109 more NEW teachers have been hired. Of course, virtually none of the terminated teachers have been re-hired. Furthermore, she said that it was harder now to get actual information than ever before – which is dismaying to hear.
  • There was a large delegation of students and parents from Hardy who were protesting M Rhee’s plan to oust their popular principal, Patrick Pope. They had a well-organized panel of 4 students who spoke quite eloquently. Very impressive.
  • I testified right after an actual, live supporter of Michelle Rhee, who thought it was the teachers’ union’s fault for making Washington DC a test case for fighting for due process for teachers. She also thought that the professional development (PD) opportunities under Rhee are much better than before. (I worked under Rhee for 2 years, and I must disagree. There was less real PD, especially in my area, math, than in any other 2 year period I can recall!) She also said that having a leader like Rhee was sure to bring in more parents like herself (by which I presume she meant, highly-paid white professionals) into the school system, because otherwise they feel send their kids to private school because they feel they have no choice.
  • I really do believe that the reason a certain number of people have for supporting Rhee is, frankly, unstated racism. They see her as getting rid of black teachers and other staff, and replacing them with young whites and asians.
  • I gave my presentation in the form of a narrated Power Point slide show that was complete with graphs, tables, and illustrations. I don’t have any of those fancy wipes, animations, fades, or dissolves in my PPT, for two reasons: (1) I don’t know how to do them, and (2) they are usually used to disguise the fact that one’s PPT is dumb and boring. If you want to see the slide show (minus my commentary), you can see it here as a Google doc.
  • Michelle Rhee came in towards the beginning of the hearing, and sat in the audience. She left at some point afterwards, I didn’t notice when. Not sure if she caught her one supporter’s speech, or mine, but someone from DCPS, saying she represented her, asked me to email him the presentation. Guess she’s not been a fan of this blog. Gee, I can’t imagine why not.  (joke)
  • Two of the council members, Thomas and Gray, said it was time to reform the reform of DC public schools. They had voted to give mayoral control over the schools to Fenty, but were not happy with how it’s turned out. Don’t expect them to lead any changes, however. They will follow, not lead, any such movement, and then take claim for it.
Published in: on March 16, 2010 at 2:34 am  Comments (8)  

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Bill Turque reported that members of Hardy’s band performed.
    I wonder if that is a sign that Pope is leaving DCPS at the end of this year.
    A kind of FU to Rhee.


    • They must have performed out in the hall or something. Definitely not in the council chambers. And I left the building at the same time as those students did, some of them carrying their instruments.


  2. the Rhee team wants to scrutinize your numbers and prove you wrong.

    good luck with that


  3. […] "important to clarify that not everyone fell into that position."' Also NC8. And Guy Brandenberg wraps up the proceedings nicely, from a Rhee-skeptic […]


  4. Guy –

    When I try the link to your google doc I get the notice I don’t have permission to view it.


    • Sorry. I will send it to you directly, Friday. I am doing something wrong here and don’t know what it is.


  5. I just confirmed with Susan Schaeffler, KIPP DC Executive Director, that what is said below is not and has never been their policy.

    Jason Botel

    Executive Director

    KIPP Baltimore | 4701 Greenspring Avenue, Room 115 | Baltimore, MD 21209

    M: 443.629.6849 | O: 410-367-0806| F: 410.367.5011 | E: jbotel@kippbaltimore.org

    Academic Excellence. College Preparation.


    • Robert:
      Exactly what part are you referring to was never their policy? The part about the requirement that no applicant can have repeated a grade? The part about extra-long school days, Saturday classes, and summer sessions? Both of those are right in the application form!!!!


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