David Catania leadership FAIL

Michelle Rhee’s Reign of Error

Rhee has publicly maintained that, if bureaucratic red tape hadn’t gotten in the way, she would have investigated the erasures. For example, in an interview[1] conducted for PBS’ “Frontline” before I learned about the confidential memo, Rhee told me, “We kept saying, ‘Okay, we’re going to do this; we just need to have more information.’ And by the time the information was trickling in back and forth, we were about to take the next year’s test. And there was a new superintendent of education that came in at the time. And she said, ‘Okay, well, we’re about to take the next test anyway so let’s just make sure that the proper protocols are in place for next time.’”

At best, that story is misleading.

Penetrating the Smokescreen

The Council hearing was called by David Catania, who chairs the newly reconstituted Education Committee. The key witnesses were Chancellor Henderson and Inspector General Charles Willoughby. Two other Council members, Kenyan McDuffie and David Grosso, joined Mr. Catania. One purpose of the hearing was to advance Mr. Catania’s own legislation to make cheating a crime (which it apparently is not under current District law). But he acknowledged that the publication of Dr. Sanford’s memo had given the hearing a second purpose: to look back at what transpired in 2008 and 2009.

Reading from what he called a ‘timeline’ of events, Mr. Catania said that Dr. Sanford had been asked to review the testing data on January 28, 2009 and wrote his memo the next day. Dr. Sanford actually traveled to Washington on January 25th and spent the next five days at DCPS, apparently writing his memo on the fifth day of his work there. (Dr. Sanford also billed DCPS for 16.5 hours of work done before flying to Washington.) He did not, as Mr. Catania’s timeline suggested, get the data one day and dash off a memo the next. He took it seriously, as well he should have.

While the timeline error is minor, it highlights a pattern of minimizing the memo itself, which both Ms. Rhee and Ms. Henderson have done publicly. They have cited Dr. Sanford’s warning that ‘the picture is not perfectly clear,’ while omitting the rest of his point: ‘the possible ramifications are serious.’

Chairman Catania kept pressing on the absence of an investigation of the 2008 erasures. Every other year has what he called a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” investigation. After all, Mr. Catania said, we have investigations by “independent outsiders” in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Why not 2008?

And the Chairman made his own position clear: “If I found any evidence that suggested there was a coverup or significant cheating, this would be a different situation.”

Several times he contrasted the DC situation with Atlanta, usually saying something to the effect that ‘this is not Atlanta.’

Later he noted, “We may never really know what happened in 2008 because the trail runs cold.”

As the Chairman must know, the trail has not ‘run cold.’ And while there is no proof that cheating in 2008 was not as extensive as it was in Atlanta, the truth is out there: CTB/McGraw-Hill still possesses all of the materials from the 2008 DC-CAS. He, the entire City Council or the Mayor could demand a sophisticated erasure analysis to determine if the WTR erasures reveal patterns. We already know that hundreds of classrooms in about half of the schools had WTR erasures that were four, five and six standard deviations away from the norm. That suggests but does not prove hanky-panky.

A deep analysis might reveal that almost all the students answered the hard questions correctly–after erasing their original wrong answers. Bingo!

If someone wants to know the truth, it’s right there in the files.

Long-Lost Memo Stirs Allegation Of Cheating In D.C. Schools

Eugene Puryear, DC Statehood Green Party candidate for DC Council At-Large

Eugene Puryear for D.C. Council At-large

Andy Shallal on education

On Reality Asserts Itself, Mr. Shallal says we went from No Child Left Behind under the Bush era to no kid left untested, to no teacher left unstressed, and our schools are still doing very poorly.

Washington, DC People’s Platform 2014

Check out the powerful video from the People’s Platform forum. We resist! We confront! We challenge! We strike! We rise up!

Featuring ONE DC, Our DC, Empower DC, Fair Budget Coalition, and our other co-sponsoring organizations.

Tommy Wells on homelessness

Pete’s testimony before City Council October 2008, concerning the shut down of Franklin Shelter. Tommy Wells was chair of the Human Services committee.

At the Returning Citizens Forum

D.C. Mayoral Candidates Make Cases at Returning Citizens’ Forum

While there are 60,000 returning citizens in D.C. who have pressing concerns and are politically motivated, only three of the eight mayoral candidates showed up at a recent candidates’ forum to hear and address those concerns.

D.C. Council members Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and Vincent Orange (D-At Large) joined District entrepreneur Andy Shallal as the Democratic mayoral candidates who participated in the Returning Citizens United forum at the Greater Mt. Calvary Holy Church in Northeast on Friday.

Considering that the vast majority of returning citizens are black, it really stinks that only one of the three black candidates, Vincent Orange, could be bothered to show up. Considering how lop sided the arrests are for drug offenses, it really shows what a failure the current leadership is. Shame on Muriel Bowser and Mayor Gray for not even showing up. Shame on them.

Andy Shallal on affordable housing

Rania Khalek interviews Shallal

DC has lost half of its affordable housing in the last decade – which has been disastrous for low-income residents. How might you fix that?
I think we need to increase inventory of available housing that’s affordable. We need to preserve the public housing that we have, which we’ve lost half of, as you mentioned. We need to make sure that when we give our public property to developers that we insist on certain restrictions on how they can build and how many units they need to build that are affordable. So we want to make sure that we get enough affordable units in new developments that are coming up.
I want to make sure that all the developments that we have that are coming in actually match the communities that they’re going into to provide affordability for the people who already live there.
There are lots of different ways we can do that with programs that we already have in place, like the Housing Purchase Assistance Program and the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act. Those types of programs need to be strengthened and funded better. Whether they’re tenants or buying a house for the first time, they should have support from the city to guide them through the process, which can be very complicated and costly.
These are things that will help make sure that the people who have lived here during the hard times are able to survive and live well during economic boom times.
How would you alleviate homelessness in DC?
We need to have rapid housing for some of them. We have programs where rather than just sticking people in a shelter, we put them in a temporary situation where we can help them out with the first couple months of rent and give them some support so they can get off their feet.
Without a home, a person cannot get a job; a person cannot really go to school. There’s a lot of stuff that happens when you’re homeless.
I think we waste a lot of money in putting people in shelters now, and that’s become the default situation that a lot of people that have been chronically homeless end up in. They end up going from shelter to shelter, never able to get off their feet for a couple of reasons. One is that shelter living is not exactly a way to stabilize your life, and second, the shelters do not really provide enough wraparound services – ways to help people find a job or help them with child care or health care.
Permanent support for housing, especially for some of the challenged communities that end up being homeless, needs to happen as well.
Again, we have the programs. We don’t have enough funding for those programs, and we let the situation fester and get worse and worse. We’ve lost so much public housing over the period of the last decade that it has come to haunt us now, seeing how many people are homeless – thousands of people are being left out on the street every night.


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