It’s a wrap. Michelle Rhee is leaving her post as D.C. schools chancellor. Though it dispelled weeks of speculation, her announcment is hardly a surprise.
After all, she made it very clear—from her active campaigning for Mayor Adrian Fenty to her public lamenting after his defeat— that her tenure was dependent, motivated, shaped by the absolute control she enjoyed under Fenty- — and likely wouldn’t under political victor Vincent Gray.
No, her ouster is not news to me— though I find her departure timeline a bit surprising. But what really intrigues me about Rhee is how she became news in the first place.
How and why did she garner so much attention? She’s not the first mayor-appointed schools chief, a phenomenon that began two decades ago with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino who scored big when he nabbed former U.S. Secretary of Education Tom Payzant as city superintendent.
Though Rhee and Fenty’s no-holds barred approach has ruffled many feathers, they were hardly the most controversial duo. As a former Chicago reporter, I can assure you Mayor Richard M. Daley and city budget director-turned schools chief Paul Vallas are hardly the warm and fuzzy type … then again, that is Chicago.