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  • Michelle Rhee Leaves A Legacy of Reform

    Today, Michelle Rhee is expected to announce her resignation as D.C. Schools Chancellor. While speculation had been growing about her fate as the D.C. public schools head in the wake of Mayor Adrian Fenty’s primary loss last month, some who had their ear to the ground expected Rhee to stay in her chancellorship for some time.

    Since taking office two years ago, Rhee has fired hundreds of ineffective teachers and administrators, closed poor-performing schools, and reworked contracts to include performance pay. Not surprisingly, union opposition to Chancellor Rhee’s reforms has been strong.

    In the nation’s capital and throughout the country, education unions have worked to thwart attempts to reform the failed status quo, seeing any opening for children to escape monopoly public school systems as a threat to their power. While Washington, D.C. still has a long way to go to improve the school system, Chancellor Rhee has worked to place the well-being of children ahead of the demands of special interest groups such as the education unions.

    And district children have been the beneficiaries of Rhee’s efforts. While still below the national average, D.C. fourth-graders led the nation in reading improvement on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

    But Chancellor Rhee’s efforts to do what’s best for children have meant that many adults are finally held accountable for poor performance. Jay Greene of the University of Arkansas notes that whenever the boat is rocked, the people who have taken cover under the safety of the status quo are sure to get angry.

    Rhee was probably pushing for many good reforms, but the more she pushed for them the more incentive the edublob had to win the next election, remove her from office, and undo her efforts. And eventually they did.

    What is certain is that Chancellor Rhee was working to significantly remake the underperforming and unsafe D.C. public school system. And early indications suggest that her reform plan was getting results. Indeed, her efforts are the antithesis of the lip service many other elected officials have given to education reform.

    On Monday, President Obama met with the five children taking part in a charter school lottery featured in Waiting for Superman. His meeting with the children – a symbolic effort to paint the administration as favorable to reforming the abysmal public education status quo detailed in Davis Guggenheim’s new documentary – comes on the heels of his remarks about school reform to Matt Lauer during NBC’s Education Week:

    You can’t defend a status quo in which a third of our kids are dropping out. You can’t defend a status quo when you’ve got 2,000 schools across the country that are dropout factories — and they really are — where more than half of the kids are dropping out.

    Yet, just outside the doors of the White House, the best drop-out prevention program in the country has been in place for the past five years: The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. In fact, 91 percent of students who used a scholarship to attend a private school of their choice graduated high school. Just 49 percent of children in D.C. public schools graduate.

    But, because of pressure from education unions, the administration and some members of Congress are working to phase out the successful voucher program, which provides scholarships of up to $7,500 to low-income D.C. children to attend a private school of their choice. At a fraction of the more than $18,000 per-pupil spent in D.C. Public Schools, the Opportunity Scholarship Program has been an unequivocal success.

    If the Obama administration really cared about results, they would work to get more than photo ops with children hoping for a bright future. Instead, the administration would stand-up for school choice and other proven reforms – as Chancellor Rhee has stood up for reform so successfully during her tenure – and would ensure every child has a chance for a safe and effective education. And they would do this at whatever cost – even if it means losing the support of “big” education.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to Michelle Rhee Leaves A Legacy of Reform

    1. E, DC says:

      This is very one-sided. Perhaps the author should read "Something to read While Waiting for Superman". There is always more than one side of a controversy. Rhee is not alone in wanting change for public schools. In my opinion, she has a jaded sense of how to best achieve it.

    2. B, Out West says:

      E, DC

      Typical progressive response.

      Your wrong and this person says so, I'm right cause I think so!

      Maybe you could point to the reforms that Rhee instituted that were ineffective and didn't put children first? No? Can't do it can you!

      Maybe you could point out what wonderful bits of reform "Something to read While Waiting for Superman" suggests as palliatives for what currently ails our public educational system.

      Maybe you could do anything other than disagree without citing any examples or reasons for your disagreement.

      Unlike you, the author points to specific actions, the reasons for them and the fact that there is evidence of improvement. Something the last several DC School Chancellors can not claim.

      This is what happens when ideologues put politics ahead of results. When policy is based on how people "wish" the world worked verses how it really works.


    3. Billie says:

      Break free from your ignorant mindset. It's what the parents want. Chancellor Rhee and the like minded, made a difference to advance. It's what the CHILDREN WANT! it's what they need! obama refuses to acknowledge, it's what works. Stay focused and refuse compliance to this incompetence.

    4. king says:

      woman is more strong.do you think so ?

      writed by king from emarketingshooping.com

    5. Ken says:

      If the evil, corrupt, teachers union makes it so hard to fire teachers, how did Ms Rhee fire so many so easily?

    6. Jo Las Vegas Nev. says:

      I worked in the schools and I have seen with my own eyes that the teachers are part of the problem, a lot of the problem. They feel that they can do what they want when they want especially when they have corrupt principals that are the head of the schools.

      I found that the system that is in place is complacent and that most teacher only do what they must and seldom do any thing more.

      If you don't come from a family of money then they really don't care. I think that what Miss Rhee has done is right and we need more like her, people with a back bone.


    7. kevin, san rafael says:

      yes, there are a small percentage of bad teachers with tenure, but if you visit schools you will soon learn that the vast majority are between good and excellent. Please check the research on charter schools to public schools and then write the blog next time, Lindsey. This sounds like it was written for a high school newspaper, by a high school student. Half of it is true, and the other half simply is not. No real media outlet would pay somone to write this, Im afraid. You would be better off having guest article writers. I wil even volunteer to be the first one.


      Kevin Seeley

      San Rafael, CA.

    8. kevin, san rafael says:

      Yes, someone does need to make tough decisions and fire a few people. But you need someone who was a successful teacher prior to being a chancellor/ superintendent. having someone evaluate you who has little teaching experience (and well documented that Rhee was below average for the limited time she taught) makes very little sense. DC needs to hire someone tough who has also taught successfully for many years in a tough situation.

    9. Pingback: L.A. teachers union won't accept pay cuts, 'value-added' evaluations

    10. love2teach says:

      Please consider these facts:

      1) Teachers do not set instructional objectives. The state department of education does.

      2) Teachers do not decide where educational funds are spent. The state, local school board, district office, and school principals make all the decisions about educational funds. Teachers may get a little left over money to divide on grade level for some supplies. The teachers I know spend at least $200.00-$400.00 or more of their own money for their classroom.

      3) Teachers do not have control of their instructional time. The teachers may have input on the daily schedule, however, their input is overlooked by the principal.

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