Mayor Bowser wastes State of the District Address when it comes to public education

The Mayor was supposed to give last evening’s speech at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.  It would have been the perfect symbol for how education reform on the traditional school side has fallen apart.  The building was recently renovated at a cost of $170 million which was $1 million more than its projected budget.  But a trio of calamities, including the finding that more than fifty percent of the students who attend Ellington do so without living in the District while falsifying their permanent addresses so they don’t have to pay tuition; drove the hasty decision to relocate the event to the University of the District of Columbia where it was staged last year.  The Administration put forth the excuse that there was better access to parking, the subway, and buses at this location.

If you are dying to know what Ms. Bowser said about the pressing topics of the forced resignation of her Deputy Mayor for Education and the Chancellor over the school placement of Mr. Wilson’s child outside of the lottery, the grossly inflated graduation rates of high school students, and residency fraud, I will provide a service by saving you the time of having to read her entire remarks before getting to the end where these subjects were discussed.  Here we go:

“In recent months, there have been bumps in the roads – frankly, there have been some mountains. But now the band aid has been ripped off, and we understand better than ever the challenges we face. . . I recognize that there is trust that needs to be rebuilt between our school system and parents, and systems of accountability and oversight that need to be reinforced and reviewed.  Under the leadership of interim Chancellor Amanda Alexander, we will finish this school year strong and be ready to start the next one.”

That is it.  Nothing about the search for a new Chancellor or who will be the next Deputy Mayor for Education, and not a word about steps that will be taken to correct the abject failures of “accountability and oversight.”  But more significantly, not one mention about charter schools that now educate over 43,000 children in the city, a number representing 47 percent of those in our public schools.

The 2018 FOCUS Gala is next week.  What a perfect opportunity this would have been to announce that she was turning over twelve former DCPS facilities for use by charters.  She could have added that she will make room for pupils from this sector in over a dozen other traditional schools that are severely under-enrolled.  The Mayor might have offered that she is the Chief Executive of Equality, and therefore will immediately seek to end the funding inequity lawsuit against the city by providing revenue in the same proportions to charters and the regular schools as the law demands through the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula.  Finally, she could have acknowledged the nationally recognized progress that charters in this town have made by stating that she will seek to emulate management of her schools by studying the work of these institutions and the DC PCSB.

I am so sorry.  It is extremely early in the morning, and I must still be dreaming.

Time to alter Mayoral control of public schools in D.C.

Yesterday’s Washington Post included a long article by Emma Brown, Valerie Strauss, and Perry Stein regarding the recent controversies swirling around District of Columbia Public Schools.  It included this discussion regarding Mayoral control of DCPS:

“Critics of the District’s reform experiment argue that the scandals are a signal that mayoral control contributed to the problem because there is no independent check on the impulse to make the schools — and thus the elected boss — look good. They argue that it’s time for public debate on whether mayoral control should be scrapped or modified.

But advocates for the current system argue that mayoral control has allowed for agile decision-making and an unusual level of continuity of leadership in the school system.

Bowser said that the scandals have revealed weaknesses best fixed with tinkering — not a return to an elected school board like the one that oversaw city schools in their bad old days.

‘We have had two systems. This one works better,’ Bowser said in an interview. ‘Trust me.'”

I guess it was the final statement by Ms. Bowser that crystallized my thinking on this subject.  Yes, Mayoral control is superior to the school system answering to the whims of an elected school board.  However, in simplifying the reporting structure and creating the position of Chancellor that reports to the Mayor, we have not completely removed politics from the equation.  Since the city’s chief executive is chosen by the voters, then politics will always be part of the picture.  To believe otherwise is naive and unrealistic.

D.C. adopted Mayoral control after New York City took the same path.  But I would argue that the results there are also mixed.  There were tremendous improvements and tough decisions made under Michael Bloomberg.  However that progress has been slowed, and in some cases reversed, now that Bill de Blasio is in charge.  With this arrangement there is much too much power in the hands of one individual.

Therefore, we must divorce the long-term best interests of the traditional public schools from someone whose job is dependent on votes.  The one way to accomplish this goal is to look at the DC Public Charter School Board as an example.  Here is a body whose members are nominated by the Mayor, and confirmed by the D.C. Council, that has managed through the years to adhere to one goal in mind: to improve the quality of the schools it oversees.  Because its members are elected to a four-year term that can be renewed, its composition extends beyond the control of any one Mayor.  Since these volunteers are not elected, it frees them to do the right thing without having to worry about losing their jobs.  The Chancellor, who the Mayor would continue to select, would report to this new entity.  

We don’t have to throw out Mayoral control of the public schools to fix the current problem-filled situation.  We only need to remove politics from the task of teaching our children.




D.C. four year high school graduation rates clearly show the power of charter sector

With the trifecta of controversies recently experienced by D.C.’s traditional school system, it is easy to miss an obvious point about the condition of public education in the nation’s capital:  we desperately need more seats for children in our city’s strong performing charter schools.  My reasoning behind this conclusion is straightforward and compelling.

Last week it was announced that the new estimate for the DCPS 2018 four-year graduation rate will be around 42 percent.  Kate McGee of WAMU presents the background:

“DCPS says it’s releasing this data for the first time to increase transparency after an investigation found that one-third of last year’s graduates received diplomas even though they didn’t meet all the graduation requirements.

‘We are focused on making sure the students who graduate have earned their diploma and the students and communities feels that way as well,’ said Michelle Lerner [no relation], Deputy Chief of Communications for DCPS.”

The low statistic comes after the Office of the State Superintendent of Education just last November claimed that the four-year adjusted cohort high school graduation rate for DCPS was 73.2 percent.  This figure was only slightly lower than the charter school rate of 73.4 percent.  However, we know now that 34 percent of seniors attending the regular schools should not have been given diplomas.  If we subtract the 34 percent from the originally published OSSE rate we get a true percentage of 39.2, exceedingly close to the recent estimate of the size of the graduating class in 2018.

Moreover, as was documented by the OSSE study looking into this mess, the matriculation scandal did not occur at charters.  If this sector’s four-year graduation rate remains the same this year as in 2017, although we certainly hope it will improve, the astonishing reality is that there will be a 31.4 percent delta between the number of pupils that graduate in four years from a charter high school compared to the number that graduate in four years from a facility that is a part of DCPS.

Charters will therefore graduate one-third more of their students.  In addition, these schools will most certainly greatly exceed the DCPS graduation rates for important at-risk subgroups of students.  When the DC Public Charter School Board released its graduation statistics last year it made the following observation:

“For five consecutive years, public charter high schools have consistently exceeded the four-year citywide averages for: African American (72.6% graduated), economically disadvantaged (74% graduated), and Hispanic (79.2% graduated).”

We now know that the charter board was greatly underestimating the groundbreaking and astonishing achievements of the schools it oversees.  It is therefore not in anyway an exaggeration to state that if you are a parent sending your child to a high school in the nation’s capital the choice of whether to choose a charter or traditional school has become a potentially life-changing event.

The problem is that there are not a sufficient number of quality charter high school seats.  For the 2017-to-2018 school year, the PCSB has estimated that there is a 1,600-student wait-list.

As Miss Bowser selects a new Deputy Mayor for Education and a new DCPS Chancellor, and as the City Council grapples with how to restructure its relationship with the Mayor in order to prevent the recent problems from re-occurring any time soon, it is imperative that charters must expand to serve as many of our kids as possible.  In this case the numbers really do tell the story.


Mayoral control of D.C.’s traditional public schools is in deep trouble

D.C. education observers thought the news could not possibly get any worse.  A National Public Radio and WAMU investigation found that at-risk students attending the city’s traditional schools received high school diplomas despite being absent from class for significant periods of time while recording passing grades for courses they should have failed.  The graduations came as a result of pressure from administrators on teachers to socially promote these kids.  It was discovered that these problems had previously been revealed to Chancellor Antwan Wilson who took no action until the report became public.

Then the once highly respected Deputy Mayor for Education Jennie Niles, founder of the high performing E.L. Haynes PCS, was forced to resign after it was found that she colluded with the Chancellor to have one of his children transferred from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts to Woodrow Wilson High School without having to participate in the school lottery.  The discretionary enrollment violated a new rule preventing this type of action by the head of DCPS, a policy that Mr. Wilson created and signed.  The school to which his daughter was moved has a waiting list of over 600 students.  The Chancellor was asked to leave his post last week.

Yesterday, a new bombshell broke.  City officials looking into the student body at Duke Ellington have found that more than half of the pupils live outside the District of Columbia, with their parents or guardians falsifying their permanent addresses to show they reside in the city so they don’t have to pay the $12,000 a year tuition to attend the school.  Now here’s the part that makes me sick.  The Washington Post article by Peter Jamison, Valerie Strauss, and Perry Stein includes the following accusation:

“That finding was shared in December at a meeting attended by representatives from the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education — which was managing the investigation — and the office of the D.C. attorney general, the officials said.

Shortly after that, a lawyer in the state superintendent’s office told those handling the case in that office to slow-track it because of the risk of negative publicity during a mayoral election year, said the officials with knowledge of the probe. It is unclear how far the investigation has progressed since then.”

So now we have the third and final position comprising Mayoral control of the regular public schools, the State Superintendent of Education, shoulder deep in scandal.   At a news conference yesterday Ms. Hanseul Kang, the State Superintendent, and Mayor Bowser denied that anyone had been asked to delay the review.  But even if this is true, why didn’t anyone know about these findings for almost three months?

Following the resignation of the Chancellor I questioned whether Mayoral control of the traditional public school should continue, a viewpoint that upset the editors of the Washington Post.  I wrote:

“We need to replicate the success that the charter sector has had on the regular school side.  Perhaps there needs to be a DC Public School Board composed of volunteers named by the mayor.  The board would then open and close neighborhood schools based upon a charting system mirrored on the PCSB.  The timing could not be better, as the Office of the State Superintendent of Education is rolling out a five-star rating system for all public schools under the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Schools scoring lower than at least a three could be shuttered.  I’m not sure if this new organization is the answer. Maybe all schools should simply report to the charter board. But I do know that with so much power in the hands of the Mayor, priorities become one person’s prerogative. When it comes to the future of our children, I’m afraid we need something more.”

Now I’m especially convinced that those responsible for our public schools, the DCPS Chancellor and the State Superintendent of Education, need to be independent positions that act as a check and balance to the power of the Mayor, similar to our three branches of government established under the U.S. Constitution.  Perhaps these individuals should report to a non-partisan organization in the model of the DC Public Charter School Board.  Whatever the final structure looks like, inaction is no longer an option.

Now what? Structural changes needed atop D.C.’s traditional schools

The Chancellor and Deputy Mayor for Education are gone, and in the Chancellor’s case he lasted only a year in his position.  It appears that pressure to increase high school graduation rates exerted on school leaders by the person who preceded Mr. Wilson resulted in kids receiving diplomas who did not attend class and who were given passing grades in classes they should have failed.  Mayor Bowser could simply name new individuals to fill these spots but we really cannot go through anything like this again.  It is simply not fair to our kids.

Today, the editors of the Washington Post assert that pointing the blame on Mayoral control of the traditional public schools is the wrong place to look:

“Such thinking is shortsighted. The school system that exists today is a far cry from the sorry state of affairs a decade ago when schools didn’t open on time, teachers went unpaid, expectations for students were low and parents fled the system. The seriousness of the problems related to inflated graduation rates can’t be discounted, but that does not negate what has been accomplished under school reform. In addition to building a prekindergarten system, rigor has been added to the curriculum, new instructional strategies have been introduced and the teaching force has been transformed into a performance-based profession. Enrollment is up, and test scores, including on the highly regarded ‘nation’s report card,’ show improvements in student achievement.”

Yes, the neighborhood schools are in much better shape than when they reported to the D.C. Board of Education.  But in reality what choice was there?  Charter schools were enrolling students from the regular schools in waves.  In fact, it was not until DCPS lost over 25 percent of its population that Michele Rhee entered the picture to try and turn things around.  If something were not done the neighborhood schools would be a ghost town.

Much more drastic improvements are still needed.  The achievement gap, now at about 60 points, is growing, not shrinking, after 20 years of school reform.  At least a dozen, and in reality many more, school buildings sit vacant that could be going to charter schools.  Many DCPS facilities are significantly under-enrolled.  Charters are receiving about $100 million a year less than the regular schools illegally outside of the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula.  Low performing neighborhood schools are allowed to continue operating in perpetuity, while charters that demonstrate poor academic results are closed.

We need to replicate the success that the charter sector has had on the regular school side.  Perhaps there needs to be a DC Public School Board composed of volunteers named by the mayor.  The board would then open and close neighborhood schools based upon a charting system mirrored on the PCSB.  The timing could not be better, as the Office of the State Superintendent of Education is rolling out a five-star rating system for all public schools under the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Schools scoring lower than at least a three could be shuttered.

I’m not sure if this new organization is the answer.  Maybe all schools should simply report to the charter board.  But I do know that with so much power in the hands of the Mayor, priorities become one person’s prerogative.  When it comes to the future of our children, I’m afraid we need something more.


D.C. Deputy Mayor for Education forced to resign; calls into question Mayoral control of traditional public schools

Last Friday the astonishing news broke that DCPS Chancellor Antwan Wilson skirted the city’s public school lottery to have one of his children enrolled at Woodrow Wilson High School where there is a wait list.  In transferring his daughter in this manner away from the Duke Ellington School for the Arts and bypassing Dunbar, his neighborhood high school, Mr. Wilson violated the new policy that prevents D.C. Chancellors from making discretionary placements.

The individual responsible for creating and approving this policy was Chancellor Wilson.

In his apology for his action, which the Mayor forced him to do and that has now been removed from the DCPS website and Twitter, Mr Wilson stated that “my decision was wrong and I take full responsibility for my mistake.”  But in reality, he has taken no responsibility at all for his behavior, instead throwing Deputy Mayor for Education Jennie Niles so far under the bus that Mayor Bowser forced her to resign her position.  Apparently, as soon as Mr. Wilson’s action was discovered, he explained that he had his wife work with Ms. Niles to make the change.  The Mayor then dismissed Ms. Niles because she should have known it was against the rules.  The student is no longer attending Wilson.

All of this is so sad.  Ms. Bowser has explained on numerous occasions over the years that when she approached Ms. Niles about becoming her Deputy Mayor for Education she was turned down.  The Mayor has bragged that it took four requests before Ms. Niles changed her mind.  The reality is that Ms. Niles should have stayed at E.L. Haynes PCS, the high performing charter that she founded, and not had her fine reputation and integrity caught up with someone who needs an Office of Integrity to tell him that students who cannot read, write, or perform basic math should not graduate from high school.

The entire incident now calls into question the turning over of the traditional public schools to Mayoral control.  Michelle Rhee was fortunate that she resigned because citizens were ready to run her mean-spirited persona out of town.  Kaya Henderson was the reform-minded Rhee with a pleasant demeanor, and she was extremely well respected until it was determined that it was under her reign that there were discretionary placements for politically well-positioned friends which led to the development of the current policy Mr. Wilson ignored.   It was also while she was in office that high school students received diplomas who rarely came to class.  Now we have the Wilson mess.

Alternatively, pundits are pointing to the academic progress that students have made as a plea not to go back to the old days when the Board of Education was running the show.  However, and it really pains me to say this, I’m starting to have doubts about the validity of these results.

If the Mayor want to keep her schools she better move fast.  Mr. Wilson and anyone associated with the recent scandals need to go as quickly as possible.   Then Ms. Bowser needs to bring in someone who has a proven track record who the public can trust.  Someone like Jennie Niles.







Trajectory of D.C.’s traditional schools is heading south; charters rising

Last week, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education released the audited student enrollment for the 2017 to 2018 school year and the news for DCPS complimented its recent accumulation of negative press.  The total number of pupils going to neighborhood schools dropped by about 0.9 percent from 48,555 to 48,144.  The last time that DCPS actually experienced a decrease in enrollment from the previous fall was the 2011 to 2012 term.

Charter schools, alternatively, continued to demonstrate a strong improvement in demand.  The number of students in this sector rose by 4.3 percent compared to a year ago, going from 41, 506 to 43,393.  The figure means that another percentage point has been added to the symbolically important market share statistic, with charters now teaching 47 percent of all students attending public schools in the nation’s capital.

Overall in the city the total number of those attending all public schools grew by 1.6 percent compared to the 2016 to 2017 school year.

But there was also groundbreaking news coming out of the DCPS Central Office.  In the wake of the controversy swirling about high school seniors being given diplomas who never should have graduated, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation joining the investigation, the Chancellor has taken the bold move to create, and I’m not making this up, an Office of Integrity to handle concerns or questions by teachers about the system.  The new Chief Integrity Officer (CIO) named to head the OOI is Dr. Arthur Fields.  Mr. Fields was DCPS’s Senior Deputy Chief of School Culture in which he was “responsible for ensuring that schools have the necessary supports to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for students.”  But I have to ask.  What supportive learning environment did Mr. Fields offer to the cheated kids of Ballou, Anacostia, and other high schools when they were deliberately socially promoted?

Sorry, one more question.  Isn’t integrity supposed to everyone’s job in DCPS, including the Chancellor’s?

Over at the charters the picture is much different.  We recently witnessed the DC Public Charter School Board voting to shutter Excel Academy PCS, as well as agreeing to close Cesar Chavez PCS’s Parkside middle school campus, and Seed PCS’s middle school.  In addition, the long-term future of Achievement Prep PCS is unpredictable.

Herein lies the most significant difference to our children, families, and community between charters and traditional schools.  Charters are held strictly accountable for their performance.  When they don’t meet established goals they are closed.

However, the regular schools, no matter the quality, just get to keep on going.








Significant number of D.C. traditional public school high school diplomas last year should not have been awarded

The final report from the State Superintendent of Education regarding the scandal around Ballou High School giving diplomas to high school seniors who did not meet graduation requirements is out and the findings are devastating:

“. . . of the 2,758 SY16-17 DCPS graduates, 937 (34.0%) students graduated with
the assistance of policy violations.”

In fact, the only DCPS schools not tied up in this mess are the selective high schools School Without Walls and Benjamin Banneker.

How was this injustice accomplished? Here you go:

“Most DCPS schools violated credit recovery program requirements, by:

1) Offering credit recovery courses to students who had not yet failed a
regular instruction course (i.e. credit recover offered concurrently or in
place of regular instruction).

2) Awarding credit for courses which do not meet 120 seat hour requirement
under the Carnegie Unit definition in 5-A DCMR § 2299.1 (“seat hour”).

3) Failing to enforce attendance requirements in credit recovery courses

4) Creating school-developed credit recovery programs that do not comply
with the Evening Credit Recovery Operations Manual (“ECR Manual”)

At most DCPS high schools, students have been allowed to pass courses despite
excessive unexcused absences, at times missing the majority of the course. Grade
reductions and failures due to absences are rarely enforced by DCPS high school
teachers or administrators.

A lack of support and oversight from DCPS Central Office contributed significantly
to policy violations system-wide related to grading, credit recovery, excessive
absences, and graduation of ineligible students. Specifically, training,
communication, tools, and monitoring were inadequate.

DCPS teachers and school leaders are subject to a variety of institutional and
administrative pressures which have contributed to a culture in which passing and
graduating students is expected, sometimes in contradiction to standards of
academic rigor and integrity. Pressures contributing to this culture included:

1) Empathy for the extreme needs of the DCPS student population (high
poverty, English language learners, and special education)

2) Aggressive graduation and promotion goals

3) Increasingly burdensome documentation required to fail students.”

The Washington Post’s Perry Stein revealed some of the greatest abuses:

“At Anacostia High School in Southeast Washington, nearly 70 percent of the 106 graduates last year received their diplomas despite violating some aspect of city policy — the worst violation rate among comprehensive schools in the city. At Ballou, the school whose mispractices spurred the investigation, 63 percent of graduates missed more classes than typically allowed, or inappropriately completed credit recovery, according to the report.

One of the most damning findings came from Dunbar High School in Northwest Washington. Teacher-centered attendance records at the school were modified from absent to present more than 4,000 times for the senior class, which numbered fewer than 200.”

According to Ms. Perry, the principal of Dunbar, Abdullah Zaki, who was named DCPS principal of the year in 2013, was removed from his job, based upon this study.  He becomes the fourth employee of the traditional public schools to lose their positions in the wake of the controversy.

The Post reporter’s article quotes DCPS Chancellor Antwan Wilson as finally showing the slightest bit of emotion over this mess.  ‘Are you telling me that they didn’t know they were supposed to go to school?’ They know that they are supposed to go to school. You can have an attendance issue and not miss 30 periods of a class.’”

He needs to be the fifth person to go.  We need to start over.  D.C.’s charter schools did not cheat while teaching the same population of students.  Perhaps they should be given the chance to turn this situation around.


D.C. charter board manager placed on administrative leave for alleged support of alt-right

In a perfectly written article by my friend Martin Austermuhle, the WAMU reporter tells the tale of John Goldman, currently the DC Public Charter School Board’s senior manager, finance, analysis, and strategy, who has been placed on administrative leave after allegations have been made that he is a supporter of the alt-right, a group that is a proponent of white nationalism.

First, some background.  I know John Goldman.  It was news to me that he was working for the PCSB.  I first met him about a decade ago when he was hired to be the business manager of the William E. Doar, Jr. Public Charter School for the Performing Arts (now renamed City Arts and Prep PCS) and I was the board chair.  The school served predominately African American students.  I also know that he played a prominent role in the turnaround of IDEA PCS, a charter serving black children living in poverty in Ward 7 that the PCSB almost closed.  If you asked me, I would state that there is no way on earth this man could be racist.

However, Mr. Austermuhle provides another side of the story.  It turns out that Mr. Goldman writes a blog under the pseudonym Jack Murphy.  The WAMU piece states:

“And in March 2017, he [Mr. Goldman] weighed in on what was then reported as a rape of a teenager by two undocumented immigrants at a high school in Rockville, offering his views on immigration and so-called sanctuary cities: ‘Is it worth educating, protecting, and defending illegal immigrants if it means our daughters will be raped while they are at school?’

That same month, Goldman described his transition from ‘Democrat to Deplorable,’ saying that he voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but cast a ballot for President Trump in 2016 after ‘Democrats created a new environment in which normal beliefs are heretical.’ (He says he is writing a book about his political conversion from ‘Democrat to Deplorable.’)

‘A man and woman are different you say? We all have different aptitudes? We should spend our money on Americans instead of aliens? We should lift ourselves up before we lift up others? You are [N]azis now, says the left. Racists. Bigots. Terrible vile people!’ he wrote.

Goldman called Trump ‘unabashedly masculine, unafraid to violate the fascism of political correctness, and willing to take on the issues of the 21st century.’

In earlier writings, Goldman identified himself as a father of three who is divorced. He wrote that going through a divorce made him change. He identifies, as inspirations, Mike Cernovich, an alt-right personality himself, and Roosh, who refers to himself as a ‘pickup artist’ and writes about his exploits with women. (In July, Goldman posted a picture of himself alongside Cernovich.)

‘I am unashamed to be masculine. I see myself holding on to something which is under attack. There is a war against men and boys, being myself and holding strong is an act of protest,” he wrote. ‘The world always needs a villain and today, that villain is the white straight male who knows what he wants and is unafraid to get it.'”

Mr. Goodman flatly rejects the charges.  He asserts:

“A photo recently surfaced where I appeared with Chelsea Manning, the whistle-blower, and a diverse group of media personalities who support Donald Trump including a latina, a homosexual, a jew, an immigrant, and a transgendered person. I myself am Jewish.

I was the unknown person in the photograph. Because various political advocates were upset that Chelsea Manning appeared with Trump supporters, they investigated and discovered my identity for the express purpose of a public shaming.

Lacy MacAuley, an admitted member of known domestic terror group Antifa, libelously spread false information about me in an attempt to get me fired. She tweeted that I was a white supremacist and known associate of Richard Spencer.

She then notified my employer, the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board (DC PCSB), and they’ve placed me on administrative leave pending an investigation.

I 100% deny any association, affiliation with, or support of the alt-right, Richard Spencer, racism, fascism, or anything else other than a liberal Democracy where each citizen has equal protection under the law.

Any notion I am a white supremacist is a complete fabrication, while the opposite is unquestionably true: I am open minded, I love everyone, and I wish nothing more than for our country to come together.

I have written a book on these very subjects, called Democrat to Deplorable. And it will be released this spring.

And today, I am the victim of a vicious smear campaign indicative of the nasty times we live in.

I believe everyone has equal rights and should be treated fairly. I believe we should come together and find unity. I believe we all need to find a way to live together because that’s our best future.

But now I am being libeled as a white supremacist when in fact, I am anti-hate and abhor the alt-right.

I have been openly critical of the alt-right, Richard Spencer, and ethno-nationalists in general. I wrote several articles against Richard Spencer and the alt-right here, and here.

On January 20th, 2017 I even confronted him in public as documented here by the Atlantic.

Rosie Gray of the Atlantic, Oliver Darcy then of the Business Insider, and Andrew Marantz of the New Yorker all witnessed my altercation with Spencer.

I don’t just disavow Richard Spencer, I’ve openly fought him.

I have worked to shine the light on Spencer’s disgusting views and ensure there was no perceived association because there is none.

The New Yorker wrote about my condemnation for white supremacists and my public disagreements with them here.”

It is a highly confusing and weird situation.  But let me just offer one criticism of Mr. Goldman.  If you are going to write an opinionated blog then you need to use your real name.  Over the years I have received my share of compliments on my posts but I’ve also been called horrible names.  Whatever the response, I think it is important to identify yourself so that you are held accountable for your public thoughts.

I hope the PCSB resolves this issue quickly.

Things not going well at District of Columbia Public Schools

The fallout from the Ballou High School student graduation scandal continues unabated.  Today, Perry Stein of the Washington Post reveals that Jane Spence, the DCPS chief of secondary schools, has been placed on administrative leave.  There was no indication of when she will return to her job, when this action was taken, or whether the leave is paid or unpaid.  Yesterday, WJLA NBC7 reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been interviewing current and former teachers at the high school, along with the United States Department of Education and the D.C. Office of Inspector General.  According to the story:

“Sources add the topics of the investigation include allegations that teachers were pressured to change grades to pass students, allegations that administrators altered grades or attendance records, and whether students receiving special federal funding had grades or attendance records altered.”

Principal Yetunde Reeves has been reassigned and assistant principal  Shamele Straughter has also been placed on administrative leave.  The big question is whether Chancellor Antwan Wilson will survive the controversy over whether students received diplomas who should not have due to poor attendance and low academic performance.  There is evidence that administrators pressured teachers to graduate students and that complaints to Mr. Wilson about the situation at the school were ignored.  The chancellor’s response to all of this is that he will hire an ombudsman to investigate problems at DCPS going forward.  But of course, isn’t this his job?