- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 30, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

If you think the District’s handgun controllers are anti-Second Amendment wackos, take a gander at this.

The D.C. Council is considering legislation that would require all “newly hired District government employees who live outside of the District of Columbia to agree to pay a percentage of their salaries back to the District as a condition of employment.” It is called the Condition of Employment Act.

Another bill, the District Domicile Requirement Amendment Act, would require new D.C. employees in the “Career Service and Educational Service who are paid at a rate equivalent to the CS-12 [starting at $62,499] or above be domiciled in the District of Columbia at the time of hire, or become domiciled within 180 days, and remain domiciled for at least 7 years after the date of hire.”

And yet another would require city officials to “certify the employment of non-District residents and include the reasons for the employment of non-District residents in the certification.”

The first bill is a commuter tax measure and the second and third represent red tape gone wild.

These proposals are cloaked under the guise of residency requirements and D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Democrat who disappointed with her monstrous ethics-reform package, has scheduled hearings on them for Wednesday.

All three measures reek of a moblike shakedown.

A different kind of hottie: D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson is about to leap from the frying pan into the fire.

The ground-breaking contract signed in 2010 between the Washington Teachers Union and D.C. schools is set to expire and the chancellor had better have a flame retardant wardrobe ready during the course of the next several months as she rolls out her school-consolidation plan, followed by her 2013 budget plan, followed by school layoffs.

Will our children be burned in the process?

The closure/consolidation plan, involving nearly two dozen brick-and-mortar facilities, should be the least of her problems as the demand for traditional public education declines and charter enrollment increases.

Regarding contract talks, one of the key discussions centers on a longer school day, which union President Nathan Saunders said is going to cost us more money.

Longer school days and weekend instruction are practically commonplace in high-performance charters. This move could be a good thing if, after implementation, D.C. Public Schools’ student achievement improves.

As for inventory, fewer buildings means fewer teachers, which is why a new ratified teacher contract must be in hand before Ms. Henderson announces which schools will be closed, how much money she wants for next school year and how many teachers and other school-based workers will be let go.

Know this, too: The flame under that cast-iron frying pan is on high because 41 percent of the 76,000 students in D.C. schools are in charter schools. The administration of Mayor Vincent C. Gray claims those students will get a fairer deal when its new point-based policy on charter school facilities comes into play.

See, when it comes to money for charter students and the facilities they use, the D.C. government is bound by law to grant charters a right of first offer, but the city too often turned its back on these children.

But now that the city has a grading system for charter applicants that want surplus buildings, the possibility that school-age children won’t be the primary recipients further fans the flames for the chancellor.

Quoting from The Washington Post here: “We don’t want to turn over a public asset to an institution that’s not going to provide a quality service to the community,” Deputy Mayor for Education De’Shawn Wright said.

Well, begging his pardon, but if “quality” is the operative word, then the doors for most D.C. schools would have been shuttered long ago as evidenced by abysmal standardized test and SAT scores.

At every turn between now and the end of the school year, the chancellor must ask the burning question: Will my decision improve the academic lot of D.C. school children?

Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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