"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Which Eli Broad Leech Will Seize on Mayor Gray?

Rumor has it that Michelle Rhee will decide to spend more time with her family after her repudiation in Tuesday's DC mayoral election.  She may be the first individual in history to lose a city-wide election without being on the ballot.  If you haven't read Courtland Milloy's assessment of last Tuesday's vote, it is posted in its entirety below.  A remarkable piece.  Even more remarkable is that he could get it published in the Washington Post.

So whose names are in circulation as the Rhee replacement?  Bill Turque has this:
. . . .There is support on the D.C. Council for Rhee to remain until the end of the school year or beyond, but speculation about possible successors has begun. Former city administrator and D.C. Board of Education president Robert C. Bobb, currently the emergency financial director for the Detroit public schools, was a conspicuous presence at Gray's election night celebration.

Other names that have been mentioned include Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the former chief executive of the Cleveland school system who works in Detroit as chief academic and accountability auditor; Deborah A. Gist, Rhode Island education commissioner and former D.C. state schools superintendent; and Rhee's predecessor, Newark Superintendent Clifford Janey, who is expected to leave his post next year.

It is also possible that Gray might opt for an interim schools leader while he pursues a broad national search. Although much of Rhee's senior staff would probably leave with her or follow quickly, Gray is said to have good relations with two of Rhee's deputy chancellors, Kaya Henderson and Richard Nyankori. . . .
Who is Robert Bobb?  Bonus Bob is a Broad Academy alum (Class of '05) who was sent to Detroit to dismantle the public schools there.  He has spent an inordinate amount of time in court trying to hang on a $145,000 in bonus pay from the Broad Foundation for his work in Detroit.  He has six months left on his contract before he is run out of town.  The Michigan Citizen concludes that "he has all but destroyed the district."

Deborah Gist is another Broad alum (Class of '08) who was behind the firing of the teachers in Central Falls, Rhode Island.  She is now State Superintendent in Rhode Island, but she is on the What's Hot list of the Billionaire Boys' Club. A replacement for Arne Duncan in an imaginary second term for Obama?

And Barbara Byrd-Bennett?  She is unpopular wherever she goes unless we're talking about a corporate board room.  She shows such fealty to the education business that she is Superintendent-in-Residence (whatever that means) at Harcourt.  Oh yes, did I say she works for Bonus Bob in Detroit?

The blood suckers are definitely on the hunt, and you can bet that the Broad-Gates-Walton team is planning the next strategic move.

Finally, as promised, Courtland Milloy.  Thank you, sir:
By Courtland Milloy
Thursday, September 16, 2010; B01

In a stunning repudiation of divisive, autocratic leadership, District residents Tuesday toppled the city's ruling troika: Mayor Adrian Fenty, Attorney General Peter Nickles and Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. All busted up. The trio's contempt for everyday people was handed back to them in spades at the polls.

Payback is a . . . well, you know what they say.
And people who need more time to gloat and wave their fists, take it. I know that the presumptive mayor-elect, Vincent Gray, is calling for healing, as he promised on the campaign trail. And that's all good.

But Fenty was a cruel mayor. He inflicted deep hurts, not little boo-boos that you kiss and blow to heaven and make feel okay overnight.

Air out those wounds.

Having taken office promising to cradle the most vulnerable residents, Fenty set out almost immediately shooting the wounded. Closing homeless shelters. Forgetting about job-training programs. Firing city workers with the wave of a callous hand -- black female heads of households more often than not.

Fenty boasted of being a hard-charging, can-do mayor. But he couldn't find time to meet with 98-year-old Dorothy Height and 82-year-old Maya Angelou. Respect for elders -- that's too old school for Fenty. Dis the sistas -- his supporters will understand.

Watch them at the chic new eateries, Fenty's hip newly arrived "creative class" firing up their "social media" networks whenever he's under attack: Why should the mayor have to stop his work just to meet with some old biddies, they tweet. Who cares if the mayor is arrogant as long as he gets the job done?
Myopic little twits.

And lordy don't complain about Rhee.

She's creating a "world-class school system," they text. As for you blacks: Don't you, like, even know what's good for you? So what if Fenty reneged on his promise to strengthen the city from the inside by helping the working poor move into the middle class. Nobody cares that he has opted to import a middle class, mostly young whites who can afford to pay high rent for condos that replaced affordable apartments.

Don't ask Fenty or Rhee whom this world-class school system will serve if low-income black residents are being evicted from his world-class city in droves.

You blacks, always playing the race card.

A word of advice to Gray: Do not overlook the bile on the ballot. The disappointment, anger, feelings of betrayal that propelled the D.C. Council chairman to victory have not burned out. Not quite.

What happened Tuesday involved more than just the unseating of a mayor with an abrasive style. It was a populist revolt against Fenty's arrogant efforts to restructure government on behalf of a privileged few. The scheme was odious: re-create a more sophisticated version of the plantation-style, federally appointed three-member commission that ruled the city for more than a century until 1967.

The Fenty troika eerily mirrored the old antebellum system of control, which featured a chairman for public works, which is what Fenty was, in essence; a chairman with expertise in legal maneuverings, Nickles; and a chairman for education and welfare issues, Rhee.

It all makes for a kind of friendly fascism in which D.C. government serves the interest of business leaders and landed gentry. Remarkably, his approach became much ballyhooed: Fenty, his supporters raved, was making the trains run on time. That people were falling off the caboose and being railroaded out of town was just the price of progress.

D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) actually used the term "lawless" to describe the Fenty regime. "He's broken the government and built in obstacles to any future success," she told me. It was going to be virtually impossible for Fenty to sustain what progress he'd made -- unless Congress crowned him king of the city.
Gray, as council chairman, called Rhee's budgeting practices "opaque," to put it mildly. Nickles, the council said, had a penchant for "stonewalling." Out in the neighborhoods, Fenty's long-standing moniker, "arrogant," was joined by others, such as "dictator" and "Napoleon wannabe" who allowed Nickles to "walk all over us" and who let Rhee "spit in our faces."

So people went to the polls and politely delivered a message: Most residents actually believe in representative democracy, thank you very much, messy though it may be.

You did it, D.C. And if it makes you want to holler, go right ahead.
E-mail: milloyc@washpost.com.

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