Apr 1, 2010

Educational Forum Featured Gray-Janey-Saunders & DC Parents

Bill Turque on his DC Schools Insider blog reports on the educational forum hosted by Robert Vinson Brannum and the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations, D.C. Federation of Citizens Associations and Wards 4 & 5 Council on Education. The forum was held on Wednesday evening (March 31) at the DC City Council building. I was in attendance along with many of DC's wrongfully terminated teachers, parents, community members and interestingly enough WTU President George Parker standing on the sidelines. The keynote address was given by a spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Education. The panel included Dr. Clifford Janey, Nathan A. Saunders, and DCPS parents including Lee Glazer, Maria Jones, Iris Toyer, Keith White and Mia Pettus. The discussion was facilitated by Cherita Whiting. Here is Turque's version of last nights event:

Janey: "It's not a coup" by Bill Turque

"The gathering at the Wilson Building Wednesday night was billed as a community forum and panel discussion on education reform. But it didn't take long to morph into an emotionally-charged rally for what the 150 or so in attendance clearly saw as their dream ticket for 2010: Gray-Janey-Saunders.

D.C. Council Chairman and newly-minted mayoral candidate Vincent C. Gray didn't disappoint the audience, put together by a coalition of community groups deeply unhappy with Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's approach to education reform. ("It's a new day! We're going to start with Gray!" exulted co-sponsor Cherita Whiting, chair of the Ward 4 Education Council).

He came with red meat for the anti-Rheeites, trashing her decision to reassign Hardy Middle School principal Patrick Pope and accusing her of not engaging with parents or articulating a coherent vision of education the District from early childhood through college.

With Washington Teachers' Union president George Parker looking on, Whiting lionized WTU general vice president Nathan Saunders, his opponent in next month's union elections, as a "standup guy" who "speaks for the teachers when they can't speak for themselves." Saunders called the union contest "a precursor to the mayor's race" and said his victory would create momentum for ousting Fenty and, by extension, Rhee.
Former D.C. schools superintendent Clifford B. Janey, shunted aside in 2007 by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in favor of Rhee, got a big hug and testimonial from Gray. "What a first-class professional. What a first-class human being."

Now superintendent in Newark, Janey never directly mentioned Rhee or Fenty. But he rejected one of Rhee's core contentions about school reform, which is that nothing is more important than the quality of the classroom teacher. Janey said such an approach, with its laser focus on test scores and achievement gaps, writes off the crucial links between school, home and community, and the potential contributions of parents.

Citing what he called "unassailable" research -- although he couldn't recall the exact source when I asked him later; he said he would send it to me -- Janey said just 13 percent of a child's academic progress is attributable to what goes on in the classroom and seven percent is driven by school leadership. The other 80 percent, he said, "is a function of what happens within the family and community."

"It stuns me that people just don't get it," he said. "And it doesn't mean teachers don't have an effect and can't have a greater effect than what is reflected in the research." But Janey said the achievement gap and other metrics are "just the tip of the iceberg."

"Much like attendance and truancy, looking at the achievement gap should only begin to raise other more fundamental issues about the lack of connection between schools, families and communities," he said.

Janey clearly enjoyed the hugs and hero treatment. But he said he and Gray are not plotting a restoration of the pre-Rhee DCPS. "It's not a coup."

Of Gray he said: "I do wish him well. We need some healing in this city."

Posted by The Washington Teacher, featuring Candi Peterson- blogger in residence, story courtesy of DC Schools Insider.


Anonymous said...

I do hope that Vincent Gray and Nathan Saunders both win their respective elections. It is time for a change in leadership. Both Saunders and Gray have "We Can Do Better" as their campaign slogans. This is so true.
Fenty, Rhee and Parker gotta GO!

DC parent said...

Turque is beginning to sound like the Washington Post editorial board. The Post has really shut him down and reduced him mainly to a programmed blogger.Anti-Rheeites- give me a break pleeez.

The Reflective Educator said...

I'm afraid I agree with DC parent. Turque really does seem to have been shut down.

I hope, though, that he posts the research Janey cited. I'd like to see that.

Sheila H. Gill said...

It was a breath of fresh air to listen to individuals who are visionaries with knowledge and certified credentials in Education.

It was a breath of fresh air to witness individuals who have integrity and dignity.

It was a breath of fresh air to see Nathan Saunders, Dr. Janey, Dr. Katherine Tobin, Chairman Gray, Council Member Thomas, Council Member Mendelson as well as dedicated and devoted DCPS parents with one common issue (Student Achievement Working Collectively).

The Educational Forum was well planned, organized, very informative and interesting which consisted of intellectuals who truly shared one value, the best interest of all DCPS students regardless of what wards the student resides in Washington, DC.

Special Kudos to Cherita Whiting and Robert Branum!!!! It truly was fantastic to interact with Dr. Clifford Janey.

Reforming DC Public Education is a better way with Nathan Saunders and Chairman Gray!! Rhee it is time to say "Good Bye," Hip, Hip, Hooray!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Gray on a night of good politicking. I'm sorry, anyone deluding themselves into thinking Gray will be different is sadly mistaken. He's hitting Rhee for political points, nothing more.

We're just swapping Fenty cronyism for east of the river back slapping. Anyone who falls for this deserves what they get. I'm still waiting for a decent candidate, looks like its not going to happen.

It's the usual catch-22 of dc politics, everyone wants a change and house cleaning, however you're not trusted if you can't show your dc roots and by the time you have that, you're just as corrupt as what you're replacing.

And no, I am not saying we need a repub candidate.

Kings said...

Turque is an investigative reporter, not a columnist or a Gray advocate.

I agree that sometimes he seems to protective of the "other side" but they probably feel the same way about him!

As long as he's trying to be fair and get the real story out, we'll be OK, because the facts indicate that Rhee is a loser.

Anonymous said...


Stop hating! You are mad because your benefits will run out when Fenty leaves! LOL! Fenty and Rhee are running neck in neck for the telling the most lies, corruption, and misappropriation of money! So, go hide under a rock!

Anonymous said...

Take a look at Sulaimon Brown

it is true that his chances are not too good, but at least we have the opportunity to vote for someone who really will fire Rhee and put an end to cronyism.

Anonymous said...

i agree with Anon at 9:20 AM... no one on this ticket will get my vote. Are you serious...we are going back to the Janey days???? Please people... don't fall for this mess! I don't want to go back there...

We need to move forward... someone check out the Peebles candidate...

The only thing I don't agree with Anon about... we do need a Republican in office!

Pat L. said...

I know that I might be getting a little picky here.....but did anyone see George Parker in the room? If so, I know he had a hard time seeing Saunders as an invited guest on the panel. Did Parker even get invited? Did he decline? Who's got the scoop?

DeWayne said...

Did anyone hear Saunders on the radio, Thursday?
I did and was quite impressed.

The callers wanted to know what happened to 140K that was given to WTU from Saunders' settlement of his lawsuit against AFT a few years ago? Saunders said it was specifically to help Parker negotiate the contract....
REALLY????THREE YEARS???? Doesn't seem like that money has done us much good (at least not yet).

I have written to Saunders campaign website and asked them to put a copy of the interview up if they can.

We'll see

Anonymous said...

To Pat L:

I heard Mr. Robert Brannum (organizer of educational forum) state that George Parker and his director of communications emailed him asking to replace Nathan Saunders on the panel. Brannum said he refused because Saunders wasn't featured on the panel as the WTU Vice President but rather as a citizen.

Seems like Parker is getting desperate.

Anonymous said...

I'm not too impressed with Gray, I agree it seems like a return to the old days and that just won't fly anymore with the new city residents or those of us who've been living in DC since the old days. I wish there was another candidate running, I want Rhee and Fenty gone but just not feeling Gray, sorry.

Anonymous said...

to anon at 10:58 am

So you are not feeling Gray. Who are you feeling?

Rhee and Fenty are counting on folks like you to win the election and continue to drive DC into the ground.

New Neighbor said...

Well I am a new resident to DC and I am feeling Vincent Gray. I will vote for him as mayor and encourage all my new neighbors to do so as well. I am sick and tired of Adrian Fenty and his corrupt cronies.

Anonymous said...

to anon 10:58 - If you're not feeling Gray or Fenty, please, while you're making up your mind, do not use fenty's talking points of "going back to the old way." That's how Fenty wants people to think about Gray, but Gray has no intention of going back to the old way - and nobody could even if they wanted to.

The Washington Teacher said...

Part of the Fenty campaign strategy to frame Gray as Barry-era cronyism. You will not be using this blog in support of the Fenty campaign 2010 ! Rest assured any further comments from the Fenty team WILL NOT GET PUBLISHED. Happy Trails.

DC resident/DCPS parent said...

If no more than to get rid of Rhee- I support Anyone But Fenty. I do not think that S. brown, L. Alexander or E. Johnson have a shot in this race. They should throw in the towel. I am voting for Gray.

Anonymous said...

As a new reader, I am concerned that several comments here and on other posts are tinged with racism. Teachers can make up all the reasons they want to criticize Rhee, and some are legit, but a vote of parents would be authoritative. I think city-wide, parents support her efforts strongly to improve the quality of classroom instruction. We have not had any move to do that by giving teachers incentives to improve, including under Janey, who improved the curriculum on paper. I am not sure teachers in the District can call selves reformers. Certainly, at the AFT level, Randi W is no reformer as she ignores teachers' call to action here. George needs to go, but Saunders will need to walk a fine line--he needs to be broader than just a teacher lobbyist. As for Gray, he seems somewhat of an unsteady platform, and somewhat sexist.

Anon 9:20 said...

Just to clarify, I am not part of nor have I received anything from the Fenty team. My little corner of Ward-5 near Dunbar has been a favorite of Fenty in his social service dumping for votes program (LAYC (latino), MM-Wash(church)).

I really, really hope that Gray is able to pull though on what he says, I just worry that he's been around DC for too long to not have his own political debt.

I don't know how Fenty is counting on us. I'm just one of the many in DC that want a real choice. I look at the current election as very much similar to the 04 presidential race. We all hated Bush, but even with all the low hanging fruit of a failed administration, Kerry wasn't able to offer a platform beyond Not Bush.

I'd consider voting for an R, just everything that is attached to them offers nothing but name calling.

If someone really wants my vote, take a lesson from New Labour, 1997. Commit to a set of principles, write them down and stick to it.

Anonymous said...

I'm not too impressed with Gray, I agree it seems like a return to the old days and that just won't fly anymore with the new city residents or those of us who've been living in DC since the old days. I wish there was another candidate running, I want Rhee and Fenty gone but just not feeling Gray, sorry.