Washington Metro News

Washington Metro News

Our Mayor is Not the New Kid Anymore!

Our capital city’s mayor, Adrian M. Fenty, came to my Institute for Education INFO breakfast last week for his annual “State of INFO” address.

Let’s flash back to last year: Elected by winning every precinct in the District — yes, he won every precinct, trouncing then-City Council Chairwoman Linda W. Cropp — Fenty took office last January and came in charging like a bull. Two BlackBerrys and all.

He quickly took control of the city’s schools and appointed a novice chancellor to lead them. (Read my column about Chancellor Michelle Rhee here. Fenty told us he “drank the Michelle Rhee Kool-Aid” from the start.) He appointed the city’s first female police chief, Cathy Lanier — who rose up the ranks in the department and was supported by highly regarded former Chief Charles H. Ramsey.
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Suicide or Murder?

Deborah Palfrey, better known as the D.C. Madam, according to reports hanged herself in a storage shed behind her mother's mobile home in the small Gulf Coast city of Tarpon Springs, Fla.

Who can ever forget the fear and rumblings in our fair city of Washington, D.C, when after Palfrey's indictment she gave volumes of her phone records to ABC News and posted them on the Internet, resulting in public identification of some prominent and powerful clients with families and careers that were threatened to be destroyed?

Remember Palfrey's former employee Brandy Britton, a former college professor who hanged herself in her Howard County home in January 2007, shortly before her scheduled trial on prostitution charges. Is this all coincidental, or do we have the makings of another Marilyn Monroe conspiracy developing?
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Mills on the Hill: Mitt Romney's Top Ten

It's that special time of the year here in the nation's capital. The cherry blossoms have bloomed. Our baseball team has cranked out its annual allotment of 150,000 "Wait Till Next Year" T-shirts. And the reporters and politicians are breaking bread as they temporarily cohabitate at any one of 136 annual black-tie dinners honoring the press, the First Amendment, and the 21st Amendment, for that matter ...

The Gridiron. The Alfalfa National Press Foundation. White House Correspondents. Insect World. All God's children have a dinner this time of year and if you ARE someone, or HOPE TO enter into at least the outer fringe of someoneness, you must attend at least one of these dinners sooner or later ...
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The Ethereal Pope

April 17, 2008, our capital city, Nationals Park, Mark Tuohey’s suite, 7 a.m.

Nationals Park presents itself as light and airy. The weather has been delivered from heaven. The music takes us to the heavens.

I hear a 65-voice Intercultural Choir with members from 35 countries singing in French, Zulu and Spanish, among others. A 250-voice Papal Mass Choir and a 175-voice Children's Choir singing in Latin. An 80-voice Gospel Choir singing in 10 languages out across the stadium. Now I am in some celestial place.
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Inspiration, from Andre Agassi

For 52 years, the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation has been keeping local kids off the streets by providing them a safe haven to do homework, play tennis and set personal goals. WTEF has a 100 percent graduation rate in which kids frequently achieve athletic and academic scholarships.

When tennis legend and world class philanthropist Andre Agassi came to our capital city on April 11 to receive WTEF’s Champion of Tennis Award, it was an event to remember. Agassi hit the courts at the Fitzgerald Tennis Center with Reps. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.), former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) and various local media and business big shots thrilled to huff and puff with the famous champ.
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The Death of Common Sense

On the front page of The Washington Post today came this story: “In his seven years, Randy Castro has been an aspiring soccer player, an accomplished Lego architect and a Royal Ranger at his Pentecostal church. He also, according to his elementary school record, sexually harassed a first-grade classmate.”



The story went on to say, “During recess at his Woodbridge school one day in November, when he was 6, he said, he smacked the classmate's bottom. The girl told the teacher. The teacher took Randy to the principal, who told him such behavior was inappropriate. School officials wrote an incident report calling it ‘Sexual Touching Against Student, Offensive,’ which will remain on his student record permanently. Then, as Randy sat in the principal's office, they called the police.”

So this is what we have become as a society. Calling the police on a 6-year-old boy when he smacks a girl on the rear end.

And people wonder why our schools are in such trouble.
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Play Ball or Educate Students?

Across the nation, the dropout rates for high school students are appallingly high.

Here in the District of Columbia, where schools are being closed throughout the city, more than 40 percent of our students drop out, an inexcusable number in the capital of our nation in 2008.

I've been a baseball fan all my life, was a student athlete in school, and in fact I was once offered a tryout for the Dodgers at third base (though I told the scout he caught me on a good day, and I'd last an hour in spring training!).

As predisposed towards sports as I am, I think it's outrageous and ridiculous that the powers-that-be of our community rally like the 101st Airborne at Normandy to build a high-priced new baseball stadium, while schools are being closed and more than 40 percent of our kids don’t graduate.
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Baseball is Back!

All politics is local, as the old saying goes. So let’s take a look at the biggest local political news this week — and apply it to our larger election at stake.

Two weeks ago I penned a column about the return of baseball to Washington — the “real” return, now that Nationals Park opened on Sunday night. The new ballpark was a triumph by all accounts. Traffic less than feared, the stadium a hit with fans, Metrorail flowing well and, best of all, the Nationals won.

Lest anyone forget, it was a bold political stroke that made it possible — a smart move by former D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who had the foresight to realize that Washington thirsted for baseball, longed for it. And the new ballpark served as the capstone for his vision.
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A Kid-Centric System

In my last blog about D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, I said she was tough. But Rhee’s character is too complex to fit a one-word label. Tough, yes, but without being abrasive, and while displaying confidence without hubris. That’s a pretty amazing combination. Tough without being abrasive: confident without hubris. Remember it, sports fans.

When she spoke at my Institute for Education (IFE) INFO Public Policy Roundtable group last week, Rhee enlightened us about how she’s reinventing D.C. schools, starting from square one.
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Chancellor Michelle Rhee, Fearless in Her Challenge

Michelle Rhee is tough. That’s a good thing, because the mountain she’s climbing is steep and rugged. And the mountain has been entrenched, as mountains are, a very long time. Michelle’s mountains are a school system bureaucracy that has no interest in its product: the children.

For anyone who’s been sleeping through the past eight months, Rhee is the District’s new education chancellor — recruited by D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty to reform the city’s ailing school system that’s been broken and an embarrassment to our capital city.
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