Michelle Rhee Resigns: What’s in store for DC schools now?

The sudden resignation of Michelle Rhee actually makes perfect sense.  It was inevitable, so why wait around?  It’s easy to imagine Ms. Rhee coming to that conclusion once she recognized that she and the next Mayor, Vincent Gray, would not be able to work together the way she did with the current Mayor, Adrian Fenty.

Michelle Rhee ResignsWhat happens next in Washington is the big story, although most of the attention will be on Ms. Rhee. She’s a national figure, subject of much speculation. Will she go to California if Meg Whitman wins the gubernatorial race?  What about New Jersey?  Iowa?  Funny how the Republicans love her to death now, even though she was chosen by an ardent Democrat and has been praised to the skies by President Obama.

We’ve followed Ms. Rhee closely during the three plus years she’s been in Washington, airing a total of 12 segments on PBS NewsHour about the changes she’s made there. Scores and enrollment are up locally, but, make no mistake about it, she also has altered the national conversation about how teachers are paid and evaluated.  No one can defend the current system, which bases everything on years in the classroom and number of graduate credits, as appropriate or rational.  That approach is history, even though it may take years for it to be removed for good.

What is going to replace the old way is now the question. Continue reading

A New Song for Michelle Rhee?

A few years ago, people were singing “Michelle, My belle, these are words that go together well.”

Today people are singing a different tune, “Should she stay, or should she go?”

Now that Adrian Fenty has lost his bid for a second term, the education world is buzzing about the fate of Michelle Rhee, his outspoken schools chancellor.  Ms. Rhee has become a national figure, much beloved by many outside the district.  At home, however, she is a lightning rod and a polarizing personality.  In her 3+ years she has closed nearly two-dozen schools, fired more than 15% of her central office staff, and let over 100 teachers go for inadequate performance.

Michelle Rhee and Adrian FentyWhile many say that Ms. Rhee has made long overdue changes in a dysfunctional system, others—including both the local and national teachers unions—have campaigned to get rid of her and, by extension, some of the changes she has made.  By some reports, the unions spent over $100,000 to defeat Mr. Fenty and, by extension, Ms. Rhee and her policies.

What about Michelle Rhee herself?  Would she want to stay on and report to Fenty’s probable successor, City Council Chairman Vincent Gray? Continue reading