Saturday, September 25, 2010

Where Has the Sanity Gone? Fenty and Rhee Out in DC

Adrian Fenty, Mayor of Washington D.C., lost his re-election bid to Vincent Gray quite convincingly; by 10% points.  Fenty, a man that most describe as aloof, has been an effective mayor.  During the Fenty administration the murder rate decreased and the public school system test scores increased.

Fenty hired both the police commissioner and the school Chancellor; Michelle Rhee.  Rhee figures prominently in the new documentary "Waiting for Superman".  The documentary shows the trials and tribulations of the average American trying to get a good education for their child.  Sadly, all too many are unsuccessful. 

This is especially true if you live in a poorer, more urban environment; such as Washington, DC.  The district has a great deal of problems.  Poverty, gangs, homelessness, drugs, AIDS infections, and on it goes.  One of the biggest problems that DC has had over the years is a broken school system.  It certainly is not for a lack of funds.  DC spends a great deal of money per student in public school.  The number is somewhere around $17,000 per student one of the highest in country.  The results for that money is less than stellar.  Some of the lowest test rates in the country.  Obviously, the problems go much deeper than the finances. 

Some of the schools are in major disrepair and are in horrible neighborhoods, where I certainly wouldn't be comfortable to have my small child walk to and fro.  The district recently lost the federal funds for school vouchers; even though the program was wildly successful.  In walks Michelle Rhee.  Rhee who has a reputation as bringing a no nonsense take no prisoners approach to fixing the broken system that Americans have created for themselves. 

Rhee has fired teachers who were shown to be incompetent and unable to raise the level of education in their classrooms.  She also has closed entire schools that were just failing the students in every way.  This has been none too popular with the local and national teachers unions.  Nor did it sit well in a majority black city when many of the teachers were black themselves. 

Fenty who has been not just a defender of Rhee, he is one of her biggest fans.  He also has not played the political games that everyone in DC has become accustomed to.  He hired the best people for the job.  He ran the city in a way to lower costs and improve services.  He wasn't always successful, but he did the job that so many have no desire to perform.  And by no means did escape his own scandals.  He did hire some of his fraternity brothers to perform some services that caused an uproar, and I am sure helped in his defeat. 

Rhee is almost certain to lose her job after Gray is officially elected; and he will be as no Republican is running in the race.  The unions spent millions to get Gray elected and the payback will be her head on a platter. 

While I doubt that Michelle Rhee and I agree on anything politically, we both agree that every child in this country deserves a good education; and that ain't happen now.  She is willing to make some difficult choices that Americans have yet to accept that we are going to have to make to straighten this ship. 

I find it quite sad that the teachers unions could buy the opinions of the very people that Rhee was trying to help.  We are all going to have to make some sacrifices to get this country heading in the right direction again.  Improving public education is a vital if we are truly going to get that done.  Rhee's innovative and tough love ideas may be just what we need; and sadly it will be some other city that will benefit. 


Christopher - Conservative Perspective said...

Blame the right people besides unions for what ails the Capitol,,,,

Article One, Section Eight of the United States Constitution grants the U.S. Congress ultimate authority over Washington, D.C. The District of Columbia did not have an elected city government until the passage of the 1973 Home Rule Act. The Act devolved certain Congressional powers over the District to a local government administered by an elected mayor, currently Adrian Fenty, and the thirteen-member Council of the District of Columbia. However, Congress retains the right to review and overturn laws created by the city council and intervene in local affairs.

Just a conservative girl said...

Yes, the mayor in DC has to get congressional approval of it's budget. But the mayor is one the hires staff. Congress has nothing to do with that.

They also have nothing to do with the elections of the council or the mayor. They may have the legal right to intervene, but they rarely do.

I am talking specifically about the school system in DC. For the most part congress stays out of that and allows that to be a local issue.

Rhee is trying to be an innovator in getting the broken system to work better for the people that have little to no choice to where they send their children. They simply cannot afford private and are not lucky enough to win the lottery's for the charters.

Not everything is feds fault. Rhee losing her job can be rightly blamed on the unions. They don't like her because she refuses to defend bad teachers which we all know that the unions do.

Christopher - Conservative Perspective said...

I realize what you are addressing and I agree.

But if you look at the make-up of congress (right now), the current POTUS and both Presidents Kennedy and Carter and the shared party amongst all of them, who else is there to blame but THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

These problems are not unique to D.C., they are repeated over and over all across the Nation due to federal control.

I live just North of Detroit so I am very familiar with this subject.

Anonymous said...

You are simply ignorant and you do not have the intelligence or integrity to seek out the facts. Go to the DCPS website, student scores went down. So do you personally know any of these incompetent or ineffective teachers, yet you take the word of a single woman. Education reform is greater than Rhee, racial rants, conservative agendas, and the blame game. It is about valuing education and empowering parents to be effective and responsible advocates for their children. Education by definition is a consensus building process. Fire your way to the top and bullying tactics will never work, they will only serve to further disenfranchise stakeholders.

Just a conservative girl said...


•49% of elementary students are proficient in reading – up from 38% in 2007;

•48% of elementary students are proficient in math – up from 29% in 2007;

•40% of secondary students are proficient in reading – up from 30% in 2007; and

•40% of secondary students are proficient in math – up from 27% in 2007.

Seems to me that is improvement. It is still horrible, but better. I am making no racial rants nor do I think that parents are not part of the solution, quite the contrary actually. DC Public schools prove that money is not the solution. Parental involvement is not only necessary but vital.

I don't think that Rhee is the only answer, but she is part of the answer.

I also don't think that the majority of teachers are bad, but some bad teachers exist and they must be removed, not protected by unions. We need to use our education dollars more effectively than we currently are.

The problems need a multi pronged approach, and addressing bad teachers is a part of that.

And by the way, I worked in high school for one semester, most of the teachers were very dedicated, but it certainly was not all. Some were burnt out and waiting for their pension to kick in. It is a difficult job, I don't have judgement on those, I just want them dealt with so every child in this country gets the education that they deserve.

You on the other hand would rather call me names instead of realizing that we should be on the same side; the side of the kids.

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