Hearing We Go Again: Rat Terrier Edition

Instead of our mayor testifying before our city council about all the stuff happening of late in our public schools (you know, because she’s in control of our schools and therefore responsible or something), YOU are on the hot seat!

City council education committee chair David Grosso has scheduled a roundtable for the public next Monday March 19, starting at 10 am. Sign up is here.

The roundtable is, according to Grosso’s website linked above, “to focus specifically on improvements to the D.C. Public Education Reform Amendment Act and other cross-sector issues. It will be an opportunity for the public to review the following: mechanisms for greater Council and public oversight and engagement, a more transparent school budget system, analyzing teacher and student evaluations, cross-sector issues, and highlighting ways to put a greater distance between politics and the education of our youth.”

To be sure, a review of school governance seems only natural now that the FBI, the city inspector general, the city attorney general, AND the board of ethics and government accountability are currently investigating our schools for lottery, residency, absence, and graduation problems.

And having the public testify instead of public officials avoids our city’s long track record of public officials saying outrageous things without apparent concern.

For instance, at nearly 4 hours into the DCPS performance oversight hearing on March 1 before Grosso and his committee, DCPS personnel did not have on hand a list of students subject to “involuntary transfer” in the last school year–which may sound pretty deep in the weeds until you realize that Grosso held a ten-HOUR hearing just weeks earlier for all manner of discipline issues in our schools, where such involuntary transfers might naturally be a part of the conversation.

That happy nondisclosure mirrored the moment 3 hours into the recent charter board oversight hearing (see here, starting at 3:15:50), when the executive director noted that the nonpublic disclosure of the board’s re-voting on expanding a charter school was really nothing as untoward as a violation of the law, but just a little matter of a board member changing her mind. (Naturally, there was no mention of the public being left out entirely.)

Then there was the unbelievable exchange, near the end of the March 1 DCPS oversight hearing, about the fact that the rats running around in DCPS’s School Within a School at Goding are apparently so resistant to ordinary abatement that a pack of rat terriers was released in the school at night–to great effect (well, not for the rats, who were killed by the dogs in large numbers in what is truly a mixed blessing).

So, it seems it’s up to us, people:

Make like a rat terrier and give the council all the dead rats you can muster out of our public schools and their (non?)governance next week.

Because it sure doesn’t look like our mayor (and maybe the folks serving under her) will.

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