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“Maybe we ought to just disband this council. Why did we spend hours working on a budget…only for you to second-guess us?”

—D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, Oct. 29

Michelle Rhee’s make-nice tactics ended on Sept. 16, when she announced that teachers would be laid off for the first time in years. When 229 of them got the boot on Oct. 2—at least some of them assisted by police—local legislators went nuts, none more than Gray. Exacerbating the conflict was Rhee’s insistence that the cuts were due to mid-summer budget cuts by the council; Gray insisted that he and his colleagues had cut only summer school, not teachers. What came out at an Oct. 29 hearing was that the school system’s budget woes were worse than the council knew: Millions in overspending were kept in the dark, and Rhee decided to cut teachers rather than summer school. And At-Large Councilmember Michael A. Brown became the first legislator to publicly suggest that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty‘s control of the school system be revoked. “It’s time to think about reforming the reform,” he said on the dais.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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