*Update: It has come to my attention after further review that the man speaking to me in my video is likely Richard Rosendall of D.C.’s Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance. The other individual next to him is likely D.C. LGBT activist and Washington Blade blogger Peter Rosenstein. Repeated attempts to reach Mr. Rosendall and Mr. Rosenstein to confirm their identities have not been answered.
During a press conference last Thursday held by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray regarding his opposition to Congress’s re-authorization of DC’s school voucher program, an anti-school voucher activist became angry with me over questions I asked Mr. Gray. The re-authorization of the D.C Opportunity Scholarship Program is designed to happen through Congress’s recent budget dealings.
As the video above shows, following my brief Q and A with Mayor Gray, two unknown individuals behind me decided to heckle me.
Apparently, my questions to the mayor did not go over well with them. One of the two men, in fact, told me to “drop dead” when I was only asking for his name. The Water Cooler is still waiting on confirmation from a local D.C. resident who has yet to respond as to whether or not he was the man I was speaking to last Thursday.
So what were my “hostile” and “biased” questions that the man in my video did not want Mayor Gray to answer? Below is the long version of the video that includes my questions to Mayor Gray and the incident above. I have time coded events to make shuttling through the video a little easier.
0:00- My first question to Mayor Gray
1:17 -My follow up question to Mayor Gray
2:35 - Two individuals begin talking behind me
3:10 - I turn the camera around and talk to one of the men
The mayor and his supporters continually hammered the Congress for not allowing the District of Columbia to decide for itself whether a school choice program should be established. Echoing the idea that the 2004 Congressionally established D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was a failure, the Mayor and other speakers representing liberal organizations addressed reporters.
However, as I referenced from a Daily Caller piece in a previous post, Dr. Patrick Wolf was asked by the Congress in 2009 to study the effectiveness of the DC school choice program, and he testified a number of times in front of a Senate Committee panel saying, “We know from this study that participating D.C. students are reading at higher levels as a result of the Opportunity Scholarship Program.” He added, “We are more than 99 percent confident that access to school choice though was the reason why OSP students graduated at these much higher rates.”
Furthermore, while a voucher program never had a chance to be established in Washington, D.C. until 2004 and was last voted down by D.C. residents in 1981, when the program was eventually started around a quarter century later, a 2011 poll conducted by the same company (h/t TWT’s Deb Simmons) that worked for Mayor Gray during his election last year showed that more than 70% of DC residents approved of the school choice program.
In fact, a majority of D.C. City Council members support public views on the voucher program. This includes Chairman Kwame Brown and other members who are not supportive with other measures in the budget deal. These members signed a letter to Congress supporting the re-authorization of the program.
I pointed these issues out to the mayor, and while he appeared aware of the study and polling, he pointed to other polling and studies that speakers at the podium cited supporting their views. “We can argue methodology all day long and maybe we ought to have that discussion, but I think we ought to look at the methodology that was used before we start citing those kinds of differences,” he said.