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The D.C. Council and the D.C. Board of Education have been brawling recently for the privilege of running the D.C. Public Schools (DCPS). Try to forget for the moment that this battle is roughly comparable to the Polish army fighting the Italian army over who gets to operate the Chernobyl nuclear reactor—the question of who runs District schools is critical.

Each side has a point. Councilmembers rant about DCPS’s horrible test scores, abysmal graduation rate, and dangerous buildings, and insist that we should chuck the board responsible for the mess. School board members counter by chronicling the council’s own magnificent accomplishments: a $722-million budget deficit, a financial control board, and a plummeting D.C. population, to name a few. The only way to cut through this blowhard rhetoric is to let the facts speak for themselves.

NOTE TO MARK: This should be a chart. In the lefthand column will be the category; In the center column, the D.C. Board of Education; In the righthand column, the D.C. Council.

Unworkable philosophy that members cling to

Board of Education: Afrocentric education

D.C. Council: Statehood

Favorite crumbling, asbestos-ridden structure

Board of Education: Any D.C. school

D.C. Council: The District/Wilson Building

Salary for “part-time” job as an elected official

D.C. Board of Education: $32,000

D.C. Council: $72,000

Budget deficit, 1994

D.C. Board of Education: $10.9 million (DCPS)

D.C. Council:$336 million (entire D.C. government)

Defining statistic

D.C. Board of Education: 338 (The average verbal SAT score of DCPS students in 1993)

D.C. Council: 467 (The number of murders in the District in 1993)

Preferred technique for enriching members

D.C. Board of Education: Try to hire Ward 7 Member Nate Bush as board’s executive secretary, a $70,000-per-year job

D.C. Council: Try to amend the law so that Chairman Dave Clarke can get an outside job

Number of times called “worst in the nation”

D.C. Board of Education: 1 (by Ross Perot)

D.C. Council: 1 (by the Washington Monthly)

Sacred Cow

D.C. Board of Education: middle managers

D.C. Council: middle managers

Scapegoats (in order)

D.C. Board of Education: The council, the mayor, Congress, parents

D.C. Council: Congress, the mayor, suburbanites, Jack Kent Cooke

Managerial model

D.C. Board of Education: Brezhnev’s U.S.S.R.

D.C. Council: Castro’s Cuba

Number of programs in receivership

Board of Education: 0

D.C. Council: 2

Number of members with education degrees or teaching experience

D.C. Council: 2 of 13

D.C. Board of Education: 5 of 11

Number of staffers

D.C. Board of Education: 31

D.C. Council: 159

Number of people who watch its dreary proceedings on D.C. cable

D.C. Board of Education: 31

D.C. Council: 31

Favorite Perk

D.C. Board of Education: Apple juice and animal crackers

D.C. Council: Free parking

Years spent on it by Marion Barry before quitting to gun for higher office

D.C. Board of Education: 2

D.C. Council: 4

Number of stories during the past year about its incompetence and mismanagement

D.C. Board of Education: too many to count

D.C. Council: even more

Probable strategy for dealing with the new financial control board

D.C. Board of Education: grovel

D.C. Council: pander