Council members who opposed the education measure did so largely because they could not agree on a definition of high-quality education and worried that promising students a level of education that the system is struggling to provide would open the city to lawsuits.<sarcasm>You have to love the soap opera that is election year politics.</sarcasm>
The vote came as the council considered a stack of other proposals, including 41 emergency bills, during the last meeting before the summer recess. The panel will not meet again until after the Sept. 12 primary election.
Iris Toyer, co-chairman of Parents United for the D.C. Public Schools, a group that had lobbied for the education bill, could hardly speak after the vote. "What just happened in there, I have no words. I can't tell you the level of disgust that I am feeling right now," she said.
Toyer directed her anger at council member Vincent B. Orange Sr. (D-Ward 5), who moved to table the legislation after colleagues rejected his amendment to require the school system to set standards for third-graders, eighth-graders and high school seniors. Orange said he did not believe the bill had gone far enough.
"He's going to pay," Toyer said of Orange.
Council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large), the dissenter in last month's vote, said that approving the measure could invite lawsuits. She noted that the District has 2,143 lawyers per 100,000 residents. "Isn't that something? I can see the lawsuits now, and so will you," Schwartz said.
In an interview, Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large), who cast the deciding vote, said he began to wonder what the bill would achieve. "I looked at it and said, 'What's this going to do for kids?' I couldn't bring myself to say yes."
Orange, Schwartz and Brown voted with Sharon Ambrose (D-Ward 6), David A. Catania (I-At Large), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) to table the bill.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Change to Home Rule Act rejected
In a somewhat surprising move the DC Council last night reversed an earlier vote and defeated the motion to put amending the District's Home Rule Act in front of the voters this November.