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  • Team Thomas Not Backing Down
  • Good morning sweet readers: Is there such a thing as eating too many mini-Snickers bars? LL tried to find out yesterday. The answer: no. News time:

    Take It From LL, Newspapers Are Not The Way To Go: Are Still Mayor Adrian Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee auditioning to be newspaper columnists? No, but they do seem to be trying to cement their reps as frontline soldiers in the war against shoddy schools in this really long essay in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend. “[T]he longest and most difficult of our fights was the effort to reshape the district’s teachers’ contract. As in many other cities, D.C.’s contract tied the hands of principals, administrators and, yes, even teachers. Staff reductions at the school level had to occur exclusively by seniority. In practice, tenure often meant a job for life, regardless of performance. Teachers could be placed at schools without the consent of principals. Pay scales were more or less locked in place, determined by years of service and credits in professional enrichment courses—completely delinked from the impact teachers were having on their students’ learning. We bargained with the teachers’ union for 2½ years and won significant concessions. How did we do it? By striking the sort of grand bargain that could serve as a model for other troubled school districts. The formula is really quite simple: more money and resources, in exchange for more accountability from teachers. … But it’s clear now that a failure of politics—if not of policy—has cut short what otherwise could have been an even more sustained campaign for reform in the District. We pushed for and achieved significant change, but we understand why many in the community felt that we did not communicate with them effectively. We did not explain why we were doing what we were doing well enough. We did not do enough to engage the local leaders and neighborhood activists who needed to be at the forefront of the fight. … We believe that the people in D.C. who want change were, and still are, the majority. But they face special interests—unions, administrators and opportunistic politicians—who are vocal and committed. These organized interests have a significant advantage over the public officials who are willing to do what is unpopular but right for the students. We see this not only in the District, of course, but nationwide. We need reform groups of our own, as powerful as these others but representing only the interests of schoolchildren and ready to take political action.” Meanwhile, Rhee has been blogging up a storm over at her new webpage.

    AFTER THE JUMP: WTU Lawsuit Fail; Write-Ins Keep the Faith; Colby Calls Out Gray …

    Teachers’ Union Lawsuit Fail: Efforts by the Washington Teachers Union to challenge the layoffs of 266 teachers last year are on the road to no where, reports the Post‘s Bill Turque. “[A]  union attorney told a D.C. Superior Court judge that it could find no evidence that Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rheecontrived a budget crunch to justify the job cuts. … The layoffs remain politically volatile for presumptive Mayor-Elect Vincent C. Gray, who defeated Fenty in the September Democratic primary with heavy teachers union support. According to attendees at a recent dinner meeting with private education donors, Gray said he would not rehire the laid-off educators. Gray spokeswoman Doxie McCoy said Friday that Gray’s position is that laid-off teachers who had received good evaluations are eligible to reapply for positions in the school system as they open up.”

    Write-Ins Not Giving Up: Tim Craig in the Post reminds us that the Fenty Write-In Campaign is alive and well and expects to win tomorrow’s general election. “‘They are really passionate about Adrian Fenty and worked hard for him and believe in him,’ said Ellie Anderson, a Democratic activist who is part of the write-in campaign. ‘They want to show the city Fenty has done a lot of good things and they want it to continue.'”

    Don’t Be a Cop Out, Vince: The Post’s Colby King says the city’s next mayor is “cruising for a bruising.” “What else to think after hearing about his strategy for making up the city’s $175 million budget shortfall. At his final town hall meeting this week, Gray said he and the D.C. Council would compile a list of potential budget cuts and then seek public input about whether taxes should be raised instead, according to a Post report. That would be a cop-out of the first order. The council is elected to make decisions, not to take polls. What’s more, people know a set-up when they see it. Gray’s scenario, intentionally or not, is a prescription for raising taxes. … Never mind that Gray’s proposed strategy presents taxpayers with a false choice: budget cuts or tax hikes. Both should be on the table.”

    Jonetta Loves David Catania Like a Teenage Girl Loves Justin Bieber: “Catania may be the only legislator equally respected across all boundaries. Folks east of the Anacostia River praise him for his consistent attention to issues affecting the poor and working class. Residents in upper Northwest know him as an advocate of effective and cost-efficient government. He’s not a legislator whose first reaction to a budget crisis is to raise taxes,” says Jonetta Rose Barras, who wants Catania to take Jack Evans’ jobs as the No. 2 on the council.

    LDP on ANCs. The Post also has a story on ANCs.

    G’Town Dish says vote no on elected-A.G. referendum.

    Evans says he opposes GU expansion, but tells Burleithians they’re on their own.

    Post editorial says let’s learn more about homeless before we impose residency requirements.

    Kwame Brown has a lot of options when it comes to committee assignments.

    CareFirst’s reserves are ok.

    Metro finds yet another way to hurt people.

    A rally occurred, Jon Stewart reminded us that cable news is horrible.

    MPD officer Paul Dittamo died in the line of duty early Saturday.

    TMZ asks Marion Barry if he has any advice for Charlie Sheen. Barry’s reply: “I don’t get into anybody’s business like that, … Don’t like anybody in my business.”

    Man reunited with stolen dog.

    Council schedule: Nothing.

    Mayor’s schedule: Nothing.