Obama Park Proposal Might Be A Little Early

By Tim Craig and Bill Turque
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 16, 2009

D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) introduced a resolution this week to rename Girard Park in Columbia Heights Barack Hussein Obama Park.

The recently renovated park, at 14th and Girard streets NW, features a basketball court and play equipment.

"The park is a jewel," Graham said. "I think the overwhelming point of view that has been expressed is that the park should be renamed in honor of our president."

But it might be harder than Graham thinks to rename the park. It's against the law.

According to the D.C. Code, "no public space in the District shall be named in honor of any living person, or in honor of any person who has been deceased less than 2 years, unless the deceased person was a President or Vice President of the United States, a United States Senator or Representative, a Mayor of the District of Columbia, or a member of the Council of the District of Columbia."

Because Obama is alive, the council would have to change the law before it could move forward on Graham's resolution.

If the council approved the resolution, the park would be the first D.C. facility or asset to be named in honor of Obama. Last month, the Prince George's County school board voted unanimously to name a new school in Upper Marlboro Barack Obama Elementary.

In recognizing Columbia Heights's diversity, Graham emphasized that Obama's middle name be included in the park's name. (During the presidential campaign, Obama shied away from highlighting his middle name, but he used it when he was sworn in to office).

Graham said he hopes Obama will visit the park if it gets renamed in his honor.

"It has a great basketball court," Graham said. "Hopefully the new president will use it."

Test Preview Doesn't Pay Off

An unspecified number of students at a District school have had their DC-CAS test scores invalidated because they apparently got an advance look at the test, according to a June 18 letter from Kerri L. Briggs, acting state superintendent of education.

The letter, from which all names and other details have been redacted, says multiple school staff members were dismissed after an investigation. The document appears as a public notice of a "test security violation" on the "Assessment and Accountability" page of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education's Web site.

Stories of cheating, many impossible to confirm, surface every testing season. This looks like the real deal.

Briggs's letter, addressed to "Name Redacted," said the office "commends the leadership" of Name Redacted "for promptly responding to the allegations of a test security breach during this year's administration of the DC-CAS. The [office] further commends Name Redacted's leadership for conducting a thorough investigation of the allegations and producing a detailed report. . . . Finally, I wish to express my support for the swift and decisive actions imposed by terminating the parties found guilty of test security violations."

Briggs said it was "unacceptable for teachers to copy and share assessment forms with students before the testing window has begun," adding that "the scores for the students who were provided with practice test materials and/or who participated in instructional activities using these materials have been invalidated. This means that these students will be counted as performing Below Basic in the computation of the Adequate Yearly Progress for School Name Redacted, the Local Education Agency, as well as the District of Columbia."

Officials to Hit the Road

Nothing brings city officials together like a road trip.

Tomorrow, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), who have been at odds over the budget, are scheduled to travel to New York to meet with credit-rating agencies.

Leading them on Wall Street will be Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi and council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue.

Gandhi and Evans have been the consistent faces before representatives of Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch. When Fenty was on the campaign trail in 2006, he was criticized for being unable to name all three agencies. He could name one, Moody's, when he was put on the spot during a forum.

Staff writer Nikita Stewart contributed to this report.

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