Reformers Woo Black Support

I didn't hear about it until after the fact, but Michelle Rhee's education group, StudentsFirst, and Kevin Johnson's group, Stand Up For Great Schools, held a civil rights / education summit in Chicago on Saturday "to engage civil rights leaders across the country in an important dialogue about the education crisis facing  our children."

This was the second such event the groups have held (the first was in Atlanta). Albert Dotson, Chairman of 100 Black Men of America, as was Representative Danny Davis (D-IL) and Kelley Williams-Bolar, Ohio education reformer who was imprisoned for falsifying her residency so her daughters could receive a better education. All this via a press release.  If you were there or know more, let me know.

While minority teachers are understandably concerned about the disproportionate impact of reform efforts on their jobs -- there's been coverage and lawsuits about this -- Rhee and Johnson obviously aren't giving up the notion that minority parents want better schools for their kids and might be impatient.


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    When Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star who is now mayor of Sacramento, was under investigation last year for alleged financial misdeeds and inappropriate behavior with female students, he had an important ally behind the scenes.

    Michelle Rhee, the nationally known education reformer who is now head of the Washington, D.C., public schools, had several conversations with a federal inspector general in which she made the case for Johnson and the school he ran in Sacramento, according to the inspector general. Rhee, who had served on the board of the school and is now engaged to marry Johnson, said he was "a good guy."

    Rhee's position had little effect on the inspector general, Gerald Walpin, who filed a criminal referral to the U.S. attorney on Johnson, a self-described friend and supporter of President Obama. But both the Sacramento police and federal attorneys declined to pursue charges. Walpin, who protested the prosecutors' handling of the case, was ultimately fired by the Obama White House in June.

    Rhee's previously undisclosed role and the Walpin firing are now part of an unfolding drama in which outspoken Republicans contend that the Obama administration has not faithfully adhered to a law designed to protect executive-branch investigators from political interference.

    The White House said Walpin was fired simply because he had lost the confidence of the president and the board of the Corp. for National and Community Service (which includes AmeriCorps), the agency he oversaw.

    Republicans are skeptical.

    "The claim that Gerald Walpin was removed for legitimate, nonpolitical reasons is unsupported and unpersuasive," says a 62-page joint staff report on the firing, to be released today by Republicans Rep. Darrell Issa of Vista, Calif., and Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa.

    Some Democrats are complaining as well. "I think the Obama administration made a mistake here," said Bernard Nussbaum, a White House counsel under President Clinton and a longtime acquaintance of Walpin.

    The report, obtained by the Los Angeles Times, includes previously undisclosed documents and details, including the 30-page criminal referral Walpin prepared for the U.S. attorney in Sacramento in August 2008, and sworn statements from witnesses.

    Walpin, who is receiving free help from a conservative public relations firm associated with the Swift boat ads that opposed Democrat John F. Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, is convinced his firing was directly related to his investigation of Johnson.

    "There is no doubt in my mind," Walpin said in an interview this week. "You'd have to be a babe in the woods not to see the link."

    The White House denies any political motivation to the firing, contending that Walpin, 78, was unfit for service.

    White House Counsel Greg Craig said the bipartisan board unanimously requested a White House review of Walpin after a May board meeting at which Walpin "was confused, disoriented, unable to answer questions and exhibited other behavior that led the board to question his capacity to serve."

    Walpin began his investigation in 2008, seeking to discover what happened to $848,000 in grants and payments to Johnson's charter school, St. Hope Academy, from AmeriCorps, the federally funded national service organization.

    The funds were to be used to pay for tutoring and other community programs at St. Hope. Walpin said he found that there was little or no tutoring at the school, and that many of the young AmeriCorps volunteers who went to St. Hope in lieu of a first year of college were assigned other tasks, including washing Johnson's car.

    The final four pages of the criminal referral discussed three instances of alleged inappropriate actions by Johnson involving a minor, who had reported she was fondled, and two young volunteers, who reported that Johnson went to their apartment and climbed into bed with one of them. The criminal referral notes that the two educators who reported the allegations left the charter school upset with the way the complaints had been handled.

    As federal and local officials declined to follow Walpin's suggestions for criminal prosecution and lifted a ban on Johnson receiving federal grants -- a ban the inspector general had fought to have imposed -- Walpin became only more adamant, irrationally so according to critics.

    A spokesman for the mayor said it was "sad and unfortunate that these allegations are being rehashed. There is no merit to them, as the Sacramento Police Department confirmed after their review. In addition, the U.S. attorney also has independently verified that this report by [the] inspector general was misleading. Professional prosecutors, the police and federal officials have closed the books on this case and moved on because there is no merit to these charges, period."

    Republicans criticize dismissal of AmeriCorps watchdog
    A GOP report contends that the Obama White House was politically motivated when it fired inspector general Gerald Walpin after his 2008 investigation of Kevin Johnson, now Sacramento's mayor.
    November 20, 2009|By Tom Hamburger and Alexander C. Hart

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    The OIG report states: "Mr. Johnson laid down on [her] bed. [The woman] sat on the edge of the bed to show him the grades, at which time Mr. Johnson "layed [sic] down behind me, cupping his body around mine like the letter C. After about 2-3 minutes or so, I felt his hand on my left side where my hip bone is."

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    Misuse of Grant Funds: Evidence gathered in the course of OIG’s investigation of St. HOPE was presented to CNCS Suspension and Debarment Official William Anderson. After reviewing the evidence collected by OIG agents in the course of their investigation, Anderson ruled on September 24, 2008 that “immediate action is necessary to protect the public interest” and suspended Johnson, Gonzalez, and St. HOPE (collectively, “Respondents”).Anderson notified the Respondents that the decision to suspend was based on evidence deemed “adequate to allow me to suspect that there has been on your part a willful failure to perform in accordance with the terms of a public agreement, and other causes of so serious or compelling a nature that it affects your present responsibility.”The Notice of Suspension also informs Respondents that the OIG’s investigation is ongoing.

  • In reply to JohnKugler:

    Oh my GOODNESS!!! I don't know how this story got past me, this is absolutely awful. The sexual inappropriateness is bad in itself. The financial mishandling makes it that much worse. This is who society feels is a good representative for our students and their future? Because union teachers and neighborhood schools are.... so much worse?
    Thanks for sharing JK

  • to point out the obvious: kugler is representing the teachers union here (he works for CTU now, right?), and if johnson had been convicted of anything he wouldn't still be the elected mayor of sacramento. so you might want to take this with a grain of salt.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    You and your blog have fallen to new lows. Before you rattled off YOUR comment, did you notice the quotes and the references in JK's writing? Are you aware that this means it was taken from somewhere? Did you see anywhere stated that Kevin Johnson was convicted?
    Seriously, maybe you should continue to make your posts as "anony" so that you don't present as such an idiot.
    While you state "the blog is doing great -- more readers than ever. thanks for being one of them"'s definitely not what it used to be. So carry on, and let the "low informational trolls" multiply.

  • In reply to unknown teacher:

    my point exactly - not convicted, so kugler is just smearing a political enemy.

    i point this out, and you try and smear me.

    doesn't work, sorry.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    "Johnson agreed to pay teen girl $230,000, draft of document shows". May 20, 2008. Archived from the original on May 21, 2008. Retrieved May 20, 2008.

    During the summer of 1995, a troubled sixteen-year-old girl living in his home alleged that Johnson had groped her. Johnson apologized to the girl when he was confronted by her with the accusation during a phone conversation recorded by Phoenix police. However, he also stated that "what you're saying happened, I'm not entirely agreeing happened."[62] The Sacramento Bee stated that they had received a copy of a proposed settlement agreement, under which Johnson would have paid the girl's family $230,000.[63]

    [62] "Can Former Phoenix Sun Kevin Johnson Overcome His Past to Become Sacramento's Mayor?". May 22, 2008. Retrieved May 22, 2008.

  • You could probably craft a defense for Jerry Sandusky.

    If you think most episodes of statutory rape result in convictions you are quite naive.

    Perhaps you should light a candle and pray to the patron saint of eduprenuers- yes, St. Hope.

  • Arne Duncan, Barack Obama, and Kevin Johnson. Who would have thought the ability to sink a three-pointer would be a requirement to create educational policy. Will Metta World Peace be our next Secretary of Education?

    I pray to St. Hope that unrighteous are cast out.

  • [comment removed for being gross and repetitive]

  • Alex- "gross and repetitive" is descriptive of 90% of your posts. It is like a car wreck, I just can't look away.

    On another note, which creepy athlete will dive into the education game next? Would you support Ray Lewis? Sean Avery? Kobe Bryant? John Rocker?

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