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Council David Schwartzman (G): Save DC Public Schools; Overturn the Fenty-Rhee-Catania charter school scheme

David Schwartzman

David Schwartzman

David Schwartzman, DC Statehood Green Party candidate for the City Council at-large seat in Washington, DC, called for a fresh start for the District’s education system, with reforms to fix DC public schools and undo the damage caused by outgoing Mayor Adrian Fenty and education chancellor Michelle Rhee, who turned public properties into a giveaway for developers and real estate firms.

“We can improve the District’s public schools by pulling together, by welcoming the participation of parents and teachers and by repairing neighborhood schools and keeping them open.  We can begin by rehiring unjustly fired teachers and other public employees,” said Dr. Schwartzman, who is promoting a program to “Create Green Collar Jobs for our Youth with Apprenticeship Programs in DC Public High Schools and the Community” (http://www.davidschwartzman.com/Issues/Green_Collar_Jobs).

“Our public school system is broken, partly a result of the hostility of Mayor Fenty and Michelle Rhee to public education.  Current at-large Council member David Catania, who supported them, shares responsibility for the mess.  Ms. Rhee’s autocratic refusal to listen to parents, as well as her reckless firing of teachers without due process, was an attack on the public school system and the right of all our children to a good education.  Mayor Fenty is already on the way out, and Michelle Rhee and David Catania should join him,” he added.

“The essential approach in 21st-century education, nurturing critical thinking, is neglected in the Fenty/Rhee/Catania team’s educational ‘reform,’ which forces teachers to teach to the test.  Michelle Rhee should revisit critical thinking after her removal from DC government and before considering a return to public service.”

Dr. Schwartzman challenged Ms. Rhee’s dedication to charter schools, since student test scores from charter and public schools have proven about equal (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704869304575109443305343962.html), and called the DC charter school movement mainly motivated by a “land grab.”

“The fixation on charter schools by Fenty, Rhee, and Catania isn’t about education, it’s about real estate,” said Dr. Schwartzman, an environmental science professor at Howard University.  “The Federal City Council and the business lobbies that it represents want to close public schools that occupy real estate coveted by powerful developers.  Fenty, Rhee, and Catania have served as frontmen for a privatization scheme and a land grab.”

Dr. Schwartzman asserted that the DC-based Federal City Council, an elite and secretive corporate roundtable that includes wealthy real estate firms and developers, set the agenda for the Fenty Administration, Michelle Rhee, and independent David Catania (formerly Republican) on educational reform.

Mr. Catania received $57,500 in campaign contributions from real estate and development interests as of August 3 (latest contribution report on record).  Dr. Schwartzman, as a Statehood Green, accepts no corporate contributions.

After his election in 2006, Mayor Fenty named a Federal City Council employee, Victor Reinoso, as Deputy Mayor for Education and chose Neil Albert as his new Deputy Mayor for Economic Development.  Mr. Albert was CEO for Ed Build, a private education services and construction firm created by the Federal City Council and the New Schools Venture Fund, an investment group tied to the national charter school movement.

Empower DC (http://www.empowerdc.org) has documented the takeover of public schools, libraries, parks, public housing, and parks — most of them in black neighborhoods — and their conversion to high-end condos, luxury lofts, hotels, etc.  In 2008, the DC Statehood Green Party published a list of “public property giveaways to developers” (http://www.gp.org/press/pr-state.php?ID=104).  Among the public schools converted to condos and luxury lofts are Wormley, Gage, Pierce, Lovejoy, Adams Morgan, Berret, Carbery, and Bryan, as well as the Mather Building (University of the District of Columbia).  The Arthur Capper public housing project was emptied and razed to become a parking lot for the new baseball stadium.  The Randall School homeless shelter was converted to an art gallery and luxury condos, and Giddings School became a Results Gym.  Altogether, Michelle Rhee shut down 21 schools in 2008, without holding public hearings or reporting complete
budget figures at City Council hearings.

David Schwartzman noted that Mayor Fenty’s defeat by Democratic voters in the Sept. 14 primary election was at least in part a rejection of the Fenty-Rhee education plan, which excluded and angered many parents.  “Oprah Winfrey and the producers of the documentary ‘Waiting for Superman’ might have been conned by Ms. Rhee, but DC parents know the truth,” he said.

“I encourage our presumed next mayor, Vincent Gray, to remove Michelle Rhee and launch a new effort to fix and save our neighborhood schools,” said Dr. Schwartzman.  “If elected to the Council, I pledge to work with him on this project.  I will also work to restore the DC Board of Education as a democratically elected body, instead a crew of yesmen appointed by the Mayor, and to limit the access of military recruiters and JROTC to our schools.”

“We should have bottom-up, not top-down governance of public education, with real collaboration between teachers, parents, and the community — and with funding shifted from bureaucracy, like the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education, to students and teachers.”


David Schwartzman, Candidate for At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia


3 Responses

  1. […] October 9, 2010 2010 , DC , public education Leave a Comment Tags: David Schwartzman Council David Schwartzman (G): Save DC Public Schools; Overturn the Fenty-Rhee-Catania charter schoo… “We can improve the District’s public schools by pulling together, by welcoming the […]

  2. […] Council David Schwartzman (G): Save DC Public Schools; Overturn the Fenty-Rhee-Catania charter schoo… (www.onthewilderside.com) […]

  3. […] Council David Schwartzman (G): Save DC Public Schools; Overturn the Fenty-Rhee-Catania charter schoo… (www.onthewilderside.com) […]

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