Thanks to G.F. Brandenburg for alerting me to this important post by Valerie Jablow, public school advocate in D.C.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser picked a bona fide corporate reformer as her deputy mayor for education. Even the pro-charter Washington Post Thought the choice was “odd.” Jablow thinks the correct word was not odd but conflicted.

The new deputy mayor Paul Kihn is a private school parent. He has close ties to the power structure. He previously worked in Philadelphia where Jablow notes some of his less than admirable feats, which make his appointment to oversee the D.C. public schools very odd:

Also odd is how the Post article did not mention a few things about Kihn that are, well, downright strange–if you believe in public schools BY, FOR, and OF the public:

–Kihn apparently made changes in a teacher contract in Philadelphia to eliminate guarantees about water fountains–because teachers wanted to ensure every school would have functional water fountains. (Not to mention what we know this means for kids’ developing brains.)

–Kihn also was apparently behind an idea to increase public engagement in Philadelphia’s public schools by allowing parents at a few underfunded district schools to vote to turn their schools into charters–or accept no additional funding. Now that’s school choice–with teeth!

[Confidential to Paul Kihn: As a DCPS parent, I really don’t wake up at night thinking about how I need to have even less engagement in my kids’ schools by turning them into charter schools that are not subject to FOIA; that can use annual facilities allocations for anything without any public accountability; and whose plans are not a matter of public knowledge until after the fact. But I do think about stranded costs and empty seats and civil rights violations created by the uncontrolled growth of charter schools in our city. Do you?]

–The wife of Scott Pearson (head of the charter board) is the boss of Kihn’s wife–at a think tank started by Pearson’s wife, called JPMorgan Chase Institute (associated with the financial institution of the same name).

Even more odd is that Paul Kihn, his wife, and Scott Pearson are all former employees of McKinsey, which applies business thinking to every activity.

If all of this sounds incestuous, well, it is.

The mayor has controlled D.C public schools since 2007. We are still “waiting for Superman” to land in D.C. So far, the biggest change has been to hand over half the kids to charter schools, most funded by the rightwing Walton Family Foundation and to introduce a failing voucher program. This looks more like floundering than strategy. Abandoning public responsibility for public schools is retreat, not success. Soon, Betsy DeVos is likely to name D.C. as one of her demonstration districts.