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D.C. mayor hopeful touts different goal
Long shot’s education plan to focus on preparation for work
The top two rivals in the Democratic race for D.C. mayor are running full speed ahead on school reform as the summer heats up and the Sept. 14 primary draws nearer.
But there’s barely one - never mind six - degrees of separation between their education positions, while the No. 3 candidate wants to shake up the entire establishment.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who won control of public education in 2007 thanks in part to Mr. Gray’s leadership on the council, is painting himself as the reformer who already has begun to turn around the city’s troubled system.
Both candidates promise to continue changes made by Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, turn neighborhood schools into hubs of educational and recreational services, and ramp up the number of prekindergarten slots available to 3- and 4-year-olds.
“These guys are all about protecting the status quo,” Mr. Alexander said in an interview Wednesday. “They are one in the same. It’s like putting a mirror to one and seeing the face of the other.”
Mr. Fenty vows sustainable reform and promises to keep Ms. Rhee, who orchestrated a philanthropic agreement that would pour more than $62 million into the school system for merit pay if Ms. Rhee stays on as chancellor.
“The issue is not whether or not I keep Chancellor Rhee on,” Mr. Gray said July 1. “The issue is, frankly, how do we create a blueprint for sustainable school reform that doesn’t rely on one or two people.”
Mr. Alexander thinks both of his rivals are missing the point.
“The problems are generational illiteracy and poverty,” Mr. Alexander said. “We’re not tackling that.”
“Half of our children are being born into poverty and one-third of children 16 and older are functionally illiterate,” he said.
A long shot who had about $700 in campaign cash according to his June report, Mr. Alexander said he will focus his efforts on getting youths and adults academically prepared for today’s work force and global economy by establishing effective vocational, training and licensing programs that lead families to paychecks.
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About the Author
Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...
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