Greetings all. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Chancellor Michelle Rhee have more good edu-news to roll out today. For one: Reading performance on national tests ‘has climbed in D.C. elementary schools, a significant counterpoint to the national trend, even though the city’s scores remain far below average,’ WaPo reports today. The reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests comport with the gains in math scores announced in December, though a charter-versus DCPS analysis is breakdown forthcoming. ‘We’re very heartened by this,’ Rhee told the Post. ‘It’s hard to discount the fact that D.C. has never seen gains like this before relative to other jurisdictions.’ In other news: Audited OSSE enrollment figures show a combined 72,711 in DCPS and charters—-a 2 percent increase—-though DCPS enrollment dropped, albeit by less than a percentage point. ‘After years of enrollment decline, DCPS has turned the tide on enrollment loss,’ declares a Fenty release. ‘The Administration projects that it could see its first increase since 1971 next school year.’
AFTER THE JUMP—-Another allegation of bad FEMS ambulance care; city officials try to keep tight leash on medical marijuana; $12M early-childhood center coming to Ward 7; MLS commish whines about lack of government giveaways; city emergency chief tells Norton that leaving government open might have been a mistake
MORE ON NAEP—-From mayoral release:
The District was one of only three jurisdictions, with Rhode Island and Kentucky, where 4th grade scores rose from 2007 to 2009. More DC students performed at or above “basic” levels than at any time since the NAEP was first administered in either grade – 44 percent in 4th grade and 50 percent in 8th grade. Results of the 2009 NAEP Reading, like the 2009 NAEP Mathematics, provide early and positive feedback on the District-wide school reform effort initiated in 2007….In the District, over 1,800 students in the 4th grade, or about 40 percent, and over 1600 students in the 8th grade, or about 34 percent, took the NAEP reading test.
4th Grade Performance Highlights:
# The average District score increased 5 points from 2007 to 2009. Comparatively, the national average did not increase. No state had a greater increase from 2007 to 2009 than DC.
# The percentage of students scoring Basic or above was 39 percent in 2007 and 44 percent in 2009.
# The percentage of students scoring Proficient or Advanced increased markedly, from 14 percent in 2007 to 17 percent in 2009.
8th Grade Performance Highlights:
# Since 2007, the average student’s score increased 1 point, consistent with gains nationwide.
# The percentage of students scoring Basic or above increased from 48 percent in 2007 to 50 percent in 2009.
# The percentage of students scoring at Proficient or Advanced was 12 percent in 2007 and 13 percent in 2009.
MISSED THIS—-Another voucher editorial, from yesterday’s WaPo, calls on Fenty to save the voucher program with local funds: ‘[T]he question is whether [Fenty]—-who has made education his priority—-has the guts his party leaders lack and will seek to save this worthy program….No doubt Mr. Fenty is being counseled on the political dangers of going where President Obama and Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), among others, fear to tread. Such arguments have never stood in his way when it comes to promoting school change. We hope he gives serious thought to stepping up one more time.’ LL’s sense is that the obstacles are more fiscal than political.
Another FEMS revelation: WJLA-TV/NC8 airs the story of Carmen Menjivar, 22, who was in the back seat of a car that crashed near Mount Vernon Square in November. ‘Sources tell ABC 7 News when D.C. firefighter paramedics arrived on scene, they did not immobilize her body. Sources say paramedics did not put a collar around her neck and they say paramedics did not restrain her body against a spine board before transporting her to GW hospital. When Menjivar arrived at the hospital, sources say doctors determined she was paralyzed from the neck down. She has been at the hospital for more than five months….The family has learned that she can move her shoulders some but doctors say she will never walk again.’ FEMS, the report says, ‘conducted a medical quality review of the incident and say that at least one paramedic underwent additional training as a result.’
Medical marijuana update: WaPo’s Ann Marimow reports on how District officials ‘are trying to learn from what they consider cautionary tales from other jurisdictions as they try to create a program that strikes a delicate balance: allowing safe access to the drug for those who need it, while avoiding the kind of abuse by recreational users that would attract a backlash from Congress….”We are not an island unto ourselves,” said [David Catania], the leading sponsor of the legislation that is a starting point for debate this month. “We have to be careful that we don’t have a system that creates more mischief than benefit.”…The District’s program is likely to resemble the highly regulated model in Oakland, Calif., which serves about 400,000 residents. After a rocky start that included armed robberies and resale troubles, Oakland officials in 2004 limited the number of dispensaries to four and created a rigorous permit and annual renewal system. The process assigns points for security, financing and criminal background checks, tests an applicant’s knowledge of medical marijuana laws and interviews for finalists.’ Examiner’s Michael Neibauer notes that the council is considering a ‘grow your own’ provision that would allow a licensed medical marijuana user to cultivate two plants for his or her own use. Caveat: ‘A major issue not addressed in legislation now before the judiciary and health committees: how the drug gets into the city.’
WHAT THEY’RE AFRAID OF—-From WaPo: ‘In California, home of the nation’s first program, medical marijuana was initially so loosely regulated—-without limits on the number of dispensaries—-that nearly 1,000 shops sprang up in Los Angeles, creating a booming business and leading elected officials to quip that there were more pot shops than Starbucks stores. The Los Angeles City Council responded in January, capping the number of dispensaries at 70 and placing limits on locations and employee compensation. The landscape in Colorado was transformed last summer when a state health board scrapped the patient limit for caregivers. The decision essentially remade the system from one in which patients grew their own marijuana or were supplied by caregivers into a dispensary model with scores of shops. Now, public health officials say they can’t keep up with the 500 patient applications that arrive by mail each day.’
Scoop from WaPo’s Bill Turque: ‘The District is nearing agreement with a philanthropy run by the daughter of billionaire investor Warren Buffett to open a $12 million early-childhood education center in the Parkside neighborhood of Ward 7,’ Turque writes. ‘The Educare Center is expected to serve 175 infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families on a site adjacent to Neval Thomas Elementary School. Construction, which could begin as early as this summer, would be financed with private funds from the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation and other national organizations. Head Start and other federal and state child-care programs would provide most of the $3.3 million annual operating budget for the center, which would be overseen by a new, local nonprofit agency.’ The council just needs to approve a ground lease; Vincent Gray ‘anticipates no opposition.’
MORE—-‘District and Parkside community leaders envision Educare as an important strand in an eventual web of birth-to-college social and educational services, similar to New York’s Harlem Children’s Zone….A consortium of local organizations, including America’s Promise Alliance, chaired by Alma Powell, wife of former secretary of state Colin Powell, and City Interests, headed by developer Alan Novak, is applying to the Education Department for funding under the new Promise Neighborhoods initiative, the Obama administration’s attempt to replicate the Harlem Children’s Zone idea in selected communities across the country. Novak sees an education continuum that starts with Educare, runs through a revitalized Thomas Elementary and leads to the Parkside campus of Cesar Chavez Public Policy Charter School, which includes grades 6 to 12.’
The new Defeat Poverty D.C. coalition is profiled by WaPo’s Tim Craig. This morning, the group ‘will roll out a new study showing that one in three District residents live at or below the poverty line. One-fifth of District residents also earn less than $11 an hour, according to the coalition. In a city with some of the highest wage earners—-and some of the most expensive pockets of housing in the country—-the group says the report is designed to expose the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots in the District. It also sets the stage for a possible fierce battle this spring over the city budget.’ The group is ‘seeking candidates to increase job placement and bolster access to childcare and reliable transportation. It is also pushing for more job training and a renewed focus on efforts to ensure better wages and benefits and more affordable housing.’
THE COALITION—-‘In addition to the Children’s Law Center, Defeatpovertydc is also comprised of Capital Area Asset Builders; the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development; DC Appleseed; the DC Fiscal Policy Institute; DC Hunger Solutions; the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia; The Moriah Fund; Washington Area Women’s Foundation; and the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless and Wider Opportunities for Women.’ Check their Web site.
Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber whines to AP about how D.C.-area governments won’t pony up taxpayer money for a soccer stadium, saying, ‘I just can’t understand why we can’t make progress in D.C., and what more do we need to do to have the politicians in that community understand the relevance of that club, it’s deep commitment to the community.’ He added: ‘I am tired of going down to meetings and getting my back slapped and (going to) faux press conferences with mayors and local city officials to have them backtrack on that because they can’t get out of their own way…And quite frankly, it’s frustrating. And at some point, we are doing to have to do something about it.’ Garber said talk of a move is ‘premature’ but says ‘if they don’t get a stadium … that team will not be able to succeed and we would have to address what that means.’ One thing it would mean mean: Another sports executive who feels entitled to taxpayer money will be out of the city’s hair.
City garbage inspectors need to start writing more tickets, Jim Graham tells DPW, per Examiner’s Neibauer. ‘The 36 inspectors who constitute the Solid Waste Education and Enforcement Program wrote only 14,000 tickets combined in fiscal 2009 and were averaging two a day per person through December, Bill Howland, director of the Department of Public Works, told a D.C. Council panel during a recent oversight hearing….”Two tickets a day raises the question about whether they’re working a full day,” said [Graham]. That lack of production, Howland said, could mean their jobs. He said he met with inspectors in December and “told them I needed their ticket production to go up individually.” The number of tickets issued increased from 1,350 in December to 2,400 in January. “If they want to stay on with DPW, they need to be writing 10 to 12 tickets a day,” Howland said.’
ALSO—-‘The council included about $1.5 million in the 2010 budget for 21 additional SWEEP inspectors. The new team was expected to generate $1.63 million in net annual revenue, but Howland said his enforcers would need to write 70,000 citations to meet the target—-five times their current production. During the council hearing, Howland revealed plans to redirect the $1.5 million to augment parking enforcement, but that idea was dumped after Graham objected.’
Harry Jaffe looks at the controversy over delayed school renovations, and finds ‘a complicated story and some shenanigans, but no clear villains.’ Fenty, he writes, ‘has staked his reputation on his ability to deliver on promises to rebuild schools and fields. He rolls out of bed every morning with the expectation of shoveling dirt as he announces a new project or cutting a ribbon at one just completed. His detractors—-council members and mayoral wannabes—-might sense weakness or the closing of the money spigot. I hate to disappoint, but this ain’t no gotcha moment….Facts are [Allen Lew]’s operation has been stellar. Bruce-Monroe was never in his realm. Even if he’s off schedule with Turner and Brookland, he’s made so many families ecstatic in all the schools and fields his people have completed that a couple of glitches don’t really register. Count them: Lew’s office has fixed bathrooms in every school, renovated about 20 and built three.’
MEANWHILE—-Marion Barry leads protest presser over Turner, Moten ES reno delays. A sampling of the rhetoric on display: ‘This isn’t urban renewal, it’s negro removal….They want us blacks out of the city,’ said an activist. Also Afro.
DCPS and charter school students are getting 1,200 free tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll. ‘The schools were chosen because of their accomplishments in boosting test scores,’ WTTG-TV reports. Robert Brannum was there and protested the unfairness of not extending the same courtesy to private and parochial school students.
SAVE THE DATE—-Sinclair Skinner will testify before the D.C. Council on April 15.
Union officials representing private security officers speak up on procurement reform bills, Craig reports at D.C. Wire. ‘Specifically, the politically influential [SEIU 32BJ] is pushing for provisions to the bill that would guarantee that the city only contracts with companies that are bonded. The reason, according to SEIU leaders, is that some companies failed to pay employees in a timely fashion – or at all – after they went out of business. Last year, Hawk One security abruptly went out of business, even though its officers had been protecting schools and government buildings. Company officials blamed late payments from the city for its financial difficulties.’ Mary Cheh says she’ll consider the provision.
GOOD FOR D.C.—-WaPo reports that (a) per Census Bureau figures, the Washington region is growing ‘faster than any other Eastern Seaboard city’ from 2007 to 2009, in what is ‘another indicator that the area has weathered the recession better than other parts of the country.’ (Also Examiner.) And WaPo also reports that (b) citing a new study, the District is a relatively cheaper place to live compared to the suburbs when transportation costs are factored in to cost-of-living calculations. And generally, writes Ashley Halsey, ‘although the Washington region may be one of the nation’s most congested, its mass transit options make it one of the more affordable.’
Snowpocalypse government shutdowns: Not as costly as anticipated, federal officials tell Congress. The tab came to an estimated $71 million per day, with earlier estimates showing that the shutdowns ‘cost about $100 million a day in lost productivity. But Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry said the government was able to salvage some of that loss, in part because of the growing number of federal employees who can work remotely,’ WaPo reports. Meanwhile, Eleanor Holmes Norton ‘quizzed emergency management officials from Maryland, Virginia and the District about their response to the crippling weather…”Do you believe it might have been wiser to close [D.C. government] down? Would you do it differently?” Norton asked Millicent Williams, director of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. Williams said the city is reviewing its response, including the decision to keep government running for all but two days during the storms. “We don’t think we’re perfect, and certainly we’re learning every day,” Williams said. “If we were to do it again, I’m not sure that the decision would be the same.”‘ Also WAMU-FM.
CRIME—-Prosecutors say Gilbert Arenas tried to cover up locker-room gun incident, deserves three months in jail. Adams Morgan shooting last night wounds man in leg, happened in front of Champlain Street crime camera. Georgetown student group house is burglarized. Sanquan Carter, 19, is charged with the second-degree murder of Jordan Howe, 20, early Monday on the 1300 block of Alabama Avenue SE. Dr. Ehigiator O. Akhigbe, 56, gets 53 months in federal prison for Medicaid fraud. Mark R. Johnson, 23, gets 35 years for murder outside Truesdell ES in 2008. McKinley Hunt, 45, gets 25 years for sexually abusing, videotaping 7-year-old. And closing arguments begin in no-body murder case.
RIF’d teacher suing Rhee over Fast Company remarks talks to WUSA-TV. Ronnie Jones ‘says the remarks have made it tougher for him to find another job….”I’ve tried to apply in other counties to get jobs. In one county in particular they were processing my paperwork and after the comment made by Chancellor Rhee they sent me a letter to say they could not offer me a position at this time or in the foreseeable future,” Jones said….”It has personally affected me as far as my grandchild….For instance, some kids are reluctant to visit simply because I was painted with that brush. I can’t say for sure that was why, but it’s just ironic that friends that she had who would visit now won’t visit.”‘
Downtown might be gettign new bike lanes, but what about the buses? GGW wants to know.
New DOH HIV/AIDS ad campaign: ‘Know Where You Stand‘!
Blogger Guy Brandenburg challenges DCPS-to-charter transfer claims.
Young girl bitten by pit bull in Congress Heights.
Latest on the N Street Follies follies from DCmud.
EWW—-WTTG-TV looks at the leftovers from the D.C. General snowpiles (aka Mount St. Fenty). ‘It’s melting, but the dirty-looking snow is packed with trash and debris. There are concerns the sludge will pollute the nearby Anacostia River….City officials and the Washington Convention and Sports Authority say they are trying to remove it in an environmentally appropriate way. Trucks on the scene now are moving the snow in the parking lot to one side, so they can repave the area to make it ready for D.C. United fans that tailgate there.’
WASA’s George Hawkins is talking pipes on Kojo today.
D.C. COUNCIL TODAY—-10 a.m.: Committee on Housing and Workforce Development agency performance oversight hearing on Department of Housing and Community Development, JAWB 120; 11 a.m.: Committee of the Whole hearing on ‘Master Facilities Plan for District of Columbia Public Schools,’ JAWB 500; 2 p.m.: Committee on Health agency performance oversight hearing on Department of Health, JAWB 123; Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs hearing on B18-499 (‘Health Insurance for Dependents Act of 2009’), B18-528 (‘Health Insurance for Children with Autism Act of 2009’), B18-656 (‘Healthcare Justice for Victims of Domestic Violence Reform Act of 2010’), and B18-657 (‘Ian’s Law for the District of Columbia Act of 2010’), JAWB 412; 6 p.m.: Committee on Aging and Community Affairs roundtable on Advisory Neighborhood Commissions in Wards 4 and 7, JAWB 120.
ADRIAN FENTY TODAY—-6:45 a.m.: guest, Connecting with the Mayor, WRC-TV; 7:10 a.m.: guest, Fenty on Fox, WTTG-TV; 10 a.m.: remarks, NAEP test scores announcement, Leckie ES, 4201 Martin Luther King Ave. SW.