Archive for the '2014' Category

This blog endorses Carol Schwartz for mayor

Will Sommer

In a lengthy statement, available at the bottom of this post, Schwartz says she’s entering the race after being “concerned” about the District following corruption scandals. Schwartz was ousted from the D.C. Council at-large seat that she won in 1997 after losing the Republican primary in 2008. Schwartz’s loss to rival Pat Mara came after she alienated her backers in the business community with sick-leave legislation.

Carol Schwartz is the only candidate running for mayor who has actually done anything for ordinary people.

Eugene Puryear’s testimony on Housing


Eugene Puryear Testimony on Public Housing Budget April 30, 2014
Eugene Puryear‘s oral testimony on April 30, 2014 before the D.C. Council, Committee on Economic Development, fiscal year 2015 budget hearing on public housing.

Tips for Chris Cillizza

Chris Cillizza has a column about how he missed Cantor’s defeat. Sadly he concludes that opinion polls are the gold standard and that he will continue to rely upon them. Big mistake. Opinion polls are commissioned by keepers of conventional wisdom and will have their blind spots. For example, as late as September 1975 presidential opinion polls did not include Jimmy Carter as an option. Big miss. In the summer of 2010 no opinion polls picked up on the issues that would launch the Occupy movement, certainly no indications that it would catch on like a wildfire with occupations sprouting up all over the country. And if you were foolish enough to confine yourself to opinion polls you would think that the suppression of the Occupations ended the movement. Wrong. A former occupier now sits on the Seattle City council. Cillizza should contact Freddie Mac, or Citi, or Wells Fargo, or almost any other bank and ask if any of their executives have been contacted by Occupy Our Homes concerning individual foreclosure cases. Or he could just follow Popular Resistance on Twitter to track left wing activism. Locally he should follow Eugene Puryear and Dan Robinson in Silver Spring. At some point all this dissastisfaction with the legacy parties will express itself by electing emergent party candidates, it could happen this year. Other races to watch are Asher Platt’s in Maine and the Howie Hawkins in New York. In the age of social media you don’t have to travel to a place to get a feel for the zeigesit, just follow the local personalities on Twitter. If it is too much trouble to develop 50 separate twitter lists to follow politics in those states, just subscribe to existing Twitter lists. I gaurantee, there is at least one political Twitter list for each state. Looking at polls will trap you in the conventional wisdom bubble. You need to expand your sources if you want to detect signficant shifts in the zeitgeist.

RENEE Bowser

Ward 4 Politicos Eye Possible Council Vacancy

Renee Bowser, the advisory neighborhood commissioner for 4D02, said that she may jump in the race.

“I am definitely taking a hard look at it,” said Bowser, 65. “I came in second to Muriel in 2012 and I was well ahead of the other competitors. I am really concerned about the education of the ward’s children, people being forced to leave the ward because they cannot afford to live here and we need more jobs in the ward.”

Renee Bowser is a labor attorney and has served on the D.C. Commission on Human Rights. She said that she will make her decision on whether to run for Muriel Bowser’s seat in the near future.

Her 2012 website, Renee4Ward4
Head Roc’s musical endorsment

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.


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