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WaPo’s McCartney: Kaya Henderson, Gray’s Approval Rating, and Dulles Rail

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Council approves Henderson as schools chancellor

Interim Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson breezed through a confirmation hearing for the permanent position Jun 21, prompting questions about whether she truly has managed to build consensus in a district that has been sharply divided for several years. Henderson's mentor and predecessor, Michelle Rhee, rubbed many constituents the wrong way.

"Henderson has managed so far to satisfy the constituents on both sides," McCartney says. “Those who adored Rhee and those who detested her."

Those that supported Rhee are comfortable with the fact that Henderson is still using the "controversial" impact teacher evaluation system, according to McCartney. And "the people that didn’t like Rhee are at least satisfied with her so far because she has a much more collaborative, solicitous style than Rhee. She doesn't court confrontation, such as going out of her way to talk about how bad some teachers are."

The happy medium could shift as the District has to make some hard decisions down the line, though, McCartney says. About 500 D.C.P.S. teachers are about to find out whether they’ve received a second negative evaluation in a row, something that is grounds for firing, and the system may still have to close some schools.

Gray popularity may decrease over school closures and teachers

The possibility of teacher firings and school closures could also force Mayor Vincent Gray's approval rating down even further, McCartney points, out, as satisfaction with the schools is one thing the mayor has had in his corner.

McCartney was surprised that the numbers weren’t even worse. Forty-seven percent had a favorable view of Fenty, versus 40 percent who view him unfavorably.

"That's about the same approval rating as President Obama has nationwide, and no one seems to be talking about him in as dire terms as they seem to be talking about Gray."

According to McCartney, things could become a little more difficult for Gray and Henderson, as tough decisions have to be made going forward. There are about 500 teachers that will learn whether they are going to receive a second consecutive negative evaluation, which are grounds for dismissal. “There could be some teacher firings coming, and they’re likely going to have to close some schools.”

According to McCartney, another issue in Gray's favor is that a lot of the scandals aren't his fault.

"He's not directly responsible for them," says McCartney. "The hiring scandals, yes, the nepotism, excess salaries, Sulaimon Brown, a lot of the stuff that's gotten most publicity doesn't directly touch on Gray."

LaHood meets with key people to discuss Metro funding

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and several key people and stakeholders are meeting to discuss how much funding can be used to build Metro’s Silver Line out past Tyson’s to Dulles Airport.

The most controversial question is whether to spend additional money to build the Dulles Metro station underground.

"It would be more convenient and aesthetically appealing than an above ground station. So I think there could be some movement on that spending issue today, and if not today than quite soon."

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