- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Mayor Vincent C. Gray on Wednesday credited Martin Luther King Jr. with leading a “revolution that transformed the world.” It’s a secular statement that falls way short of recognizing the ultimate leader.

Mr. Gray would be better off accepting his own leadership role to ensure that this time next year he gets a “no” to the following question: Are D.C. students moving backward? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.

As D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown commented after the release of school-by-school breakdowns of 2010-11 test scores, some schools “are faring worse than in previous years.” Seems the quixotic shaking ‘n’ baking by Chancellors Kaya Henderson and Michelle A. Rhee changed the recipe for school reform but failed to produce more academically astute students.

Board of Education member Mark Jones, along with Mr. Brown, appear to be the only city leaders with brows furrowed at the latest results of the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System, which reveal that 135 of 187 D.C. public schools failed to make adequate yearly progress in math and reading, and that 15 were added to the troubled-schools list.

Whether you’re a fan of Rhee-form or reform, at this juncture it is irrelevant since D.C. students who live east of North Capitol Street apparently have trouble reading and comprehending both terms.

That’s right.

According to the results, students who live in Wards 5, 7 and 8 trail those who attend schools in Wards 1, 2 and 3.

Said Mr. Brown, who supports funding school vouchers with public dollars: “I am extremely troubled to see [elementary] schools moving backward. Performance measures should go up, or at least stabilize, but never should they shift downward.”

Mr. Jones, the Ward 5 school board representative, expressed similar concerns.

After delving into the numbers, he also pointed out gender disparities. At Emery Elementary, for example, the standardized math score for boys was 15 points lower than for their female counterparts.

He rightly characterized the overall results as “a definite sign that we must heighten the pace of school reform.”

He also said officials “need [to] identify what is causing the gender gap — and rectify it immediately.”

Think other school officials expressed such urgency?

Here’s what Mr. Gray’s hand-picked superintendent of D.C. education, Hosanna Mahaley, said of the abysmal scores and what lies ahead:

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