D.C. Council members at a hearing today criticized Deputy Mayor for Education Victor Reinoso for a seven-month delay in naming independent researchers to conduct a required long-term evaluation of the school system's new governance.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration, under the legislation that put him in charge of the schools, was required to name a team of evaluators in September to study how the new structure affects student achievement over time. The study will examine changes initiated by Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, including the introduction of new business operations, teacher hiring and training procedures and plans to close and reorganize about 50 schools.
But council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) questioned whether the researchers, nominated in April, would be able to produce a credible report by September. Because they would start so late, he said, they would have to rely on the school system's data rather than their own research. The short time frame "is a source of extreme concern," Gray said. "I don't even know if we can guarantee that the data was gathered in an appropriate way."
"We missed our deadline. That was an oversight on our part," Reinoso said. "We think we can move forward rigorously and vigorously."
Reinoso is seeking to hire Kenneth Wong, chairman of the Brown University school of education and Frederick Hess, director of education policy at the American Enterprise Institute. Reinoso said both have extensively studied mayoral takeover in other cities.
Gray also questioned how impartial the evaluators would be, given that Wong testified in favor of the D.C. mayoral takeover legislation and that Hess wrote an op-ed piece in The Post last September praising Rhee.
Reinoso said the two have been critical of how some cities have implemented mayoral takeover of schools and would bring a "skeptical eye" to their research.