Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Michelle Rhee resigns as chancellor of DC schools

Michelle Rhee, the controversial Korean-American educator who headed Washington DC's school system, is quitting following the political defeat of her boss and biggest supporter.

From the Washington Post:
After more than three years in the job, Rhee's tenure is the longest of any D.C. chancellor or superintendent in the past two decades. Measures of student performance generally improved during her time in the job but sagged in a round of test results released in August.

Rhee removed most doubts about her future as chancellor the day after Fenty's defeat, when she told an A-list audience at the premiere of the education documentary "Waiting for 'Superman' " that Fenty's loss was "devastating" for the city's schoolchildren.

She quickly sought to recast the comment, saying that it was not a criticism of Gray. But the declaration underscored the expectation that her time as chancellor would soon end.

Rhee's goals - higher student achievement, better teachers and greater accountability for their classroom performance - were generally shared by Rhee's predecessors. But with new powers putting the struggling school system under mayoral control, Rhee pursued the goals with an unprecedented zeal.

She closed more than two dozen schools, fired teachers by the hundreds and spent more than two years negotiating a labor contract that gives principals new control over teacher hiring while establishing a new performance-pay system that ties compensation to growth on student test scores.
It will be interesting to see where she goes next. Her tactics, even if good-intentioned, may make her too radioactive to place her in the Obama administration. Perhaps a private group, like the Bill Gates Foundation or the Clinton Foundation, can envision a role for her.


  1. Rhee's performance has been highly overrated. She is an inexperienced teacher (fewer than 3 years in the classroom) who has essentially acted as a pit bull and front person for the corporate powers that are taking over public education under the guise of "school reform." On her watch, many seasoned and high performing teachers have been replaced by novices, many of whom don't even have education degrees. Don't believe the hype about her rooting out poor performers; this has been a corporate PURGE and make no mistake about it.

    For those who are honestly seeking the truth about this whole issue, do a little investigating and don't fall for the okey-doke, of which there is plenty.

  2. Marsha, thank you for your take. Do you have any online links or news articles you could point to what you see as a more accurate view?

    I'm not from the Washington DC area, but I am interested in improving education (having attended good, bad, and adequate schools in areas as diverse as Compton and Orange County), while Michelle Rhee's status as a prominent Korean-American made her a natural focus for this blog when she did make the news. Most of what I know about her, though, is from resources like PBS Newshour, which usually presents both sides of an issue with reasonable objectivity.


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