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Prof. Matt Fraidin Among Local Leaders Proposing New Year’s Resolutions for New Mayor

Monday, January 03, 2011   (0 Comments)
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UDC-DCSL Prof. Matt Fraidin was one of several DC local leaders asked to provide a proposed New Year's Resolution to DC Mayor Vincent Gray. See Prof. Fraidin's and other community leaders' comments below or read the full article at The Washington Post:

From D.C. community leaders, a to-do list for Mayor Gray

By D.C. Community Leaders

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Open up Family Court.

Let the sun shine on Family Court by opening hearings and records to the public.

More than 20 years after a court-ordered reform plan for D.C.'s Child and Family Services Agency, and after recent tragedies such as Renee Bowman's 2007 murder of two adopted children, it is clear that the city can't run D.C.'s child-welfare system on its own. With closed courts, children's fates are decided secretly. Lawyers, caseworkers and judges are unaccountable. With open courts, we can learn why the Child and Family Services Agency and D.C.'s Family Court missed Bowman's financial problems and criminal history. With open courts - such as those in more than 20 states - children have more eyes watching out for them.

Opening Family Court would show that a Gray administration has nothing to hide and that you trust judges and caseworkers. And open courts would show respect for the public. These are our children, after all, and we are their village.

- Matthew I. Fraidin, associate professor of law, University of the District of Columbia

Reform school admissions.

Building top schools that will attract and retain families is the unfinished business of the past two Washington mayors. Nothing should loom larger than following through on your promises to advance school reform.

You should start by centralizing school admissions. Through the state education office, set up a clearinghouse for parents to choose public schools - district or charter - through a single application and a single lottery, instead of our current patchwork of dozens of lotteries held at different times without meaningful oversight.

Under the current system, a fraction of the coveted slots at popular schools are filled by lottery. The rest are filled by pre- and post-lottery maneuvering by savvy parents and school staff members, with deserving kids possibly left behind. The system burdens schools, whose admitted applicants may never enroll because they applied to so many other schools, and parents, who can be overwhelmed by options.

With one-stop shopping, parents can apply once and rank their preferred schools. They can mix out-of-boundary district schools with charter schools as they like, and officials can use this information to run a super-lottery - with many more winners than the current system.

- Steven Glazerman, a research economist and a charter school co-founder. The views here are his own.

Make the federal govern ment work for you.

Even though you have spoken of your vision of "One City," D.C.'s mayor will in one sense always be the mayor of two cities - the District itself, with all the challenges of any urban area, and the nation's capital, with a different set of challenges.

Unfortunately, the District cannot afford the infrastructure necessary to make Washington a great national capital, one with modern public schools, transit, roads and bridges, water systems and public safety facilities. (That is the finding of our recent report, "Building the Best Capital City in the World.") This is due primarily to the revenue limitations that the federal government imposes on D.C., and because the federal government does not support the District in the way that other countries support their capitals. As a result, the Government Accountability Office has estimated that the District has a built-in annual shortfall of up to $1 billion.

You should ask the president and Congress to help address the District's urgent infrastructure needs. President Bill Clinton worked with Congress to pass legislation that relieved D.C. of some of its expensive state-like functions, such as financing the courts and managing the prisons. President George W. Bush worked with Congress to transfer federal land to the District for use in economic development. You should work with President Obama and the new Congress to continue this tradition and make building the best capital city in the world part of their legacy.

- Walter Smith, executive director, DC Appleseed

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