Articles tagged with District of Columbia

Rhee’s departure from D.C. schools almost certain (public domain image)There were numerous stories to follow in last week’s primary elections, but the big story was that D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee is now near-certain to leave her post after her boss, Mayor Adrian Fenty, lost his bid for reelection in the Democratic primary.

Rhee has attracted national attention for her tough reforms and clashes with D.C. teachers, and she became a central and polarizing figure in the mayoral race. But assuming she does leave—and finds another job as schools chief or in the education reform arena—she may take with her a valuable lesson from her experience in D.C. That is, communications—and the community–matters.

Rhee was grilled about her plans at a D.C. preview of the new “Waiting for Superman” documentary on Sept. 22, taking the spotlight away from other education notables who attended. (Rhee is a central figure in the film, which promotes charter schools and will be discussed in the cover story of ASBJ‘s November issue).

Rhee called the election results “devastating for the schoolchildren of Washington, D.C.,” then later sent a letter to the Post stating that, by the way, she had not meant to imply that Vincent Gray, the presumed winner in November, was devastating.

Naomi Dillon|September 20th, 2010|Categories: Governance, American School Board Journal|Tags: , |

DC schools chief approval ratings down, but customer satisfaction is up

Photo courtesy of Stockvault

Photo courtesy of Stockvault

What am I to make of a recent Washington Post poll that says D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s popularity has fallen—yet people are happier with the state of their schools?

It makes no sense to me that her “performance rating” has fallen from 59 percent last year to 43 percent this year. Or that her disapproval rating is 62 percent among African-Americans.

Test scores are up. Violence and crime are down. The quality of textbooks and other instructional materials has improved. Bad teachers are being taken out of the classroom.

This is exactly the progress that Washington, D.C., residents have wanted to see for the past 30 years, a period when a revolving door of superintendents and a variety of school governance models ensured that every step toward improvement was disrupted by political infighting and a sharp turn in policy direction.

Certainly Rhee is no saint. She’s made some questionable decisions. She’s also made her share of public relations blunders. She’s challenged the politically powerful teachers union and annoyed some parents with her willingness to make unpopular decisions, like closing their low-performing neighborhood schools.

But if concrete results are being seen, do people have to approve of how she’s doing things?

Naomi Dillon|February 4th, 2010|Categories: Governance, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |
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