Obama Admin. To DC Voters: STFU
In case you missed it, last week DC Mayor Adrian Fenty was primaried by DC council chairman Vincent Gray. Gray won a decisive victory over Fenty, and the race fell on racial lines:
In the District's most racially homogenous neighborhoods, Gray won by 4 to 1 margins in black areas and Fenty won by 4 to 1 in white areas.
While race seems to be a factor in the DC race, it's important to note that race and income are tightly linkedin DC:
Although white households had a median income of about $101,000 in 2008, the median income of black households was about $39,000.
Relatedly, also linked is public school attendance:
Fenty decisively lost the black vote and decisively won the white vote. D.C. public schools are about 5 percent white, so it is a reasonable supposition that the anti-Fenty vote was fueled to a large degree by parents of children in the public schools.
Pre-election polls suggest Fenty's school chancellor, Oprah's "warrior woman", Michelle Rhee is at least partially to blame for Fenty's loss:
A recent Washington Post poll indicated that 54 percent of black voters said they would not vote for Fenty because of Rhee, while 68 percent of whites said Rhee’s reforms were the reason they were voting for Fenty. Both Fenty and Gray are African-Americans.
Rhee has been a controversial figure in DC. During her brief tenure she's fired hundreds of teachers, closed schools, and ignored the concerns of parents. After Fenty's trouncing, before an elite group of Washington A-listers attending the premiere of Waiting for Superman:
Rhee said she would not "mince words" about Tuesday's Democratic primary defeat of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.
"Yesterday's election results were devastating, devastating," Rhee said. "Not for me, because I'll be fine, and not even for Fenty because he'll be fine, but devastating for the schoolchildren of Washington, D.C."
She recieved a round of applause.
So the voters have spoken. Rhee has taken to her soapbox. And, now here comes Arne Duncan, publicly urging Gray to retain Rhee:
Duncan acknowledged that he has already spoken to Rhee once, and will talk to her again when she returns from her honeymoon with new husband Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento, Calif. He also said he has repeatedly tried to reach Gray by phone to discuss the matter with him. “We’ve been trading calls the last two days, but we will talk,” Duncan said.
Asked if he was considering adding Rhee to his team, Duncan said he was a “big fan” of the schools chancellor but said he thought her “leadership” was needed in her current job. “I’d like to give this thing a chance to improve over time,” he said.
Unbelievable. Apparently, the voters of DC were not clear enough for the Obama administration. I don't know if this willful ignorance of the voice of the voters on the part of Duncan, and seemingly endorsed by Obama, is racist, classist, or both, or if the administration is just made up of such true believers in their own ideological approach to education reform that they literally can not hear the voters, but this disrespect for the DC electorate is simply stunning.