- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Measuring the yardstick

I am quoted in the article “D.C. schools nominee fails to validate success,” (Page 1, Thursday) as part of the controversy over the appointment of Michelle A. Rhee to lead the D.C. public schools. Perhaps the community will allow me to provide some clarity over an education evaluation issue.

Attributing student achievement to a particular teacher is difficult, particularly among highly mobile populations such as those children who attended Harlem Park Elementary School during Mrs. Rhee’s tenure. I have been asked if my office could review detailed testing records from the 1994-95 school year, which is difficult because those archives are not easily accessible since our systems changed in 2000. Even so, student records from the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS) vendor would have indicated only the teacher to whom the test administration was attributed and not to the teacher who was responsible for the year’s instruction.

The data I have shared with reporters for The Washington Times and the Baltimore Sun are derived from the Title I report, which collapses all third-grade classes together. The reading gains that year go well beyond the 2 NCE gain that was the Title I standard. However, it is worth noting that this school was emerging from a controversial privatization management contract and weak student performance was recovering — an effect statisticians call “regression to the mean.”

Mrs. Rhee was unknown to me during her time in Baltimore, but colleagues who did know her have spoken of her talents in the highest terms. I would not want inconclusive Baltimore City CTBS data to be part of the discussion of her qualifications.


Research, Evaluation, Assessment and Accountability Officer

Baltimore County Public School System


Change-of-address card

Paul Greenberg had a very interesting column on Sunday (“Notes on a ‘Constitutional Crisis,’” Commentary).

It states: “When the president decided to fire a handful of federal prosecutors who serve at his pleasure and replace them with appointees he liked better he was accused of violating the Constitution.” So, all of the people who have said that there was no White House involvement are liars and perhaps perjurers?

Then he plays the blame game, saying President Clinton fired all U.S. prosecutors. True, but how many did he smear? How many did he call “poor performers” because they were not loyal Clintonites or didn’t use their offices to push his liberal agenda?

He then excuses the vice president’s refusal to follow an executive order requiring every executive “agency” and “entity” to inform the Security Oversight Office how much material had been classified. So, the vice president’s office does not meet the definition of a federal agency. That the vice president does not meet that definition, nor that of an entity, is arguable.

The vice president is not saying that he is above the law. Why should he, when the president is willing to say it for him?

The answer to this question is simple. When in the Senate, the vice president is subject to the rules of the Senate. When in the White House, he is subject to the rules of the White House. If he doesn’t want to be subject to either, he should stand out on the street.



Plan?What plan?

The article “Chertoff rebukes Congress over bill” (Page 1, yesterday) reported that “hen pressed by host Chris Wallace about the $4.4 billion that Mr. Bush vowed during the immigration-bill debate to spend on border security, Chertoff said that money was to have come from fines paid under the bill’s legalization program and thus said funding border security is now Congress’ problem. ‘$4.4 billion was going to be secured by the payments made by the illegals.’” Give us a break.

Many of our politicians demonstrated how ignorant they believe the general public to be when they attempted to push through the disastrously ineffectual amnesty bill. Now, Mr. Chertoff claims that the intent all along was to fund the fence with payments by illegals under a bill that hadn’t been introduced or disclosed at the time the fence bill was passed and ballyhooed.

Perhaps Mr. Chertoff is inadvertently demonstrating how ignorant politicians can be, as well. Apparently, the bill wasn’t even disclosed to most of the senators until after it was introduced, so how could they have thought that some clandestine legislation could possibly have been the funding source for the fence at the time that bill was passed?

Perhaps he is right. Perhaps that was the “plan.”

Perhaps he thinks that was a good funding plan. Perhaps. But if it were the plan, it was a patently dishonest plan. Were any of those who bragged about passing the fence-building bill, as a deterrent to invasion, also informing the public that the financing plan was to get the illegals to line up to pay fines and pony up the money?

If so, I somehow missed it. Perhaps Mr. Chertoff is mistaken. Also printed yesterday, Rich Lowry’s Commentary piece “Populist tide to victory” regarding that same amnesty bill said: ” Chertoff seemed to suggest illegals would have to pay back taxes, when the White House had quietly removed that provision.”

So, there’s no money for the fence? Well, for starters, let’s not continue foreign aid to Hamas, which was recently reported as a payment that would not be stopped even though it would likely fund terrorist arms. That’s only one of hundreds of rat holes that our politicians pour ineffective billions down while claiming they cannot fund a duly passed fence bill and that it’s technically impossible to defend our borders. And perhaps Mr. Chertoff is the best person the president could find to head up Homeland Security.



Bush’s successes

With poll ratings having apparently reached the nadir, reading that for President Bush, “Executive privilege carries a hefty political price” (Nation, yesterday), it is not only going from the ridiculous to the sublime, but from the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous.

Perennial Clinton defender Lanny J. Davis, who defended the administration from numerous Republican-issued subpoenas, now reverses course and considers Mr. Bush’s action as being a political no-no.

The name of the game the past several weeks on TV shows like NBC’s “Meet the Press,”PBS’ “McLaughlin Group,” and the latest, Chris Matthews’ “Hardball” on MSNBC has been for each assembled panel to delineate Mr. Bush’s failures, from his attempt to save Social Security, to the latest, the failure to bring about immigration reform.

Of course, not a word has been uttered that his predecessor made no attempt to accomplish either, thus absolving Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton from having tocome up with an excuse. Apparently Mr. Bush though, even though he is at least trying, does not rate any brownie points.

Most conspicuously noted in the pundits’ forecasting is Mr. Bush’s projected dismal legacy. Even though his term of office has not ended, and with all creditable historians avowing that a president’s legacy cannot be determined until at least several decades after leaving office, on none of the aforementioned shows has there been any recognition of a Bush administration successes: the present healthy economy, low unemployment or the fact that there have been no further terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since September 11.


Palm Desert, Calif.

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