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Posted at 4:30 AM ET, 07/ 1/2010

Why Rhee's mayoral comments are troubling

By Valerie Strauss

Let’s set aside the question about whether D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee should have taken sides in the city’s mayoral race. Even if she had said nothing, everybody would know she stands firmly with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, the man who hired her and who has given her free rein.

But her all-but-direct threat to quit if Fenty loses to D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray in September’s Democratic Party raises a question about her priorities, not to mention her reluctance to admit that she might not have all the answers to fixing D.C. schools.

My colleagues Bill Turque and Nikita Stewart wrote in a Post article that Rhee on Tuesday said in two separate interviews -- one with WAMU’s Kavitha Cardoza and one with The Post -- that she would not work for a mayor who did not share her education reform ideas, and then she made it clear that Gray doesn’t.

So Rhee is all but saying that if city residents don’t give her her way by reelecting Fenty, she is out of here.

Never mind that she really doesn’t know how Gray will approach their relationship. What political candidates say during a campaign is not always what they do if they win and take office. Considerations change.

What is more important, and of more concern, is that Rhee surely knows the importance of consistency in school leadership. She knows she was the seventh person to head the school system in a decade when she arrived in 2007, and that the constant turnover at the top was disastrous for the city’s schools.

Rhee states frequently that her concern is only for D.C. schoolchildren. If that is so, it seems odd that she would be so quick to suggest that she might abandon them without giving a new mayor a chance to do what she considers the right thing.

Her comments are hardly a great lesson for young people, who need more than ever to learn how to listen to other views and compromise.

Would it not be a far better message for Rhee to tell D.C. schoolchildren that she is here to stay and fight to improve their schools?

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By Valerie Strauss  | July 1, 2010; 4:30 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. Schools  | Tags:  michelle rhee and d.c. mayor, michelle rhee and fenty, michelle rhee and vincent gray, rhee and d.c. mayor, rhee and d.c. schools, rhee and fenty and gray, rhee and quit, rhee's threat to quit  
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Ok,this column is just naive. This election is a referendum on education reform. Fenty said it would be when he hired Rhee. It was either everything or nothing. The idea that Rhee could be effective under a Gray administration is laughable, he is openly hostile to her, lacks any vision for an alternative other than go back to some mythical past that many of us parents in the DC education system saw as a failure. You ask Rhee to be consistent and yet we know that Gray won't be consistent. For better or worse we the citizens of DC have to choose the future of our city.

Posted by: Brooklander | July 1, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee is selfish and egotistical. Since her arrival reporters, columnists, and editorial writers have hailed her as the savior of District public education. They are wrong. Others in the District and public education reform community who care about children and DCPS reform have been ignored and ridiculed. Anyone who dared to criticize Chancellor Rhee was also demonized.

The news media has clearly showed a double standard in reporting about Chancellor Rhee as evidenced by the failure of reporters Mr. Bill Turque, Ms. Nikita Stewart, and Ms. Kavitha Cardoza, in their interviews to ask questions about the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance's full investigation of her. Ms. Strauss appears to go along.

Since Chancellor Rhee's arrival the news media has been protecting her image, overstating, and misrepresenting her accomplishments. Chancellor Rhee is only interested in what is best for Chancellor Rhee over the interest of children.

Robert Vinson Brannum

Posted by: robert158 | July 1, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

I was puzzled and disappointed by Rhee's comments. If she's "for the kids" then she stays in the fight. She's making the election about her and that's inappropriate, seems self-promoting, and makes me question her motives.

I am sure that if Gray won and begun undoing the good things that have been accomplished (yes, among the chaos some good things have happened) enough of us would push back against Gray. And to date, I have not seen an instance where Gray won't listen and reverse course if necessary.

While she's still young, Rhee is old enough to know that threatening to take her ball and go home if she doesn't get her way is childish at best and bullying at worst.

Posted by: dcparkmom | July 1, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Everyone has a right to work under the conditions they choose. But Rhee has consistently said that teachers, principals, and the general public will have to deal with not having everything their own perfect way in order to help the kids. Now she is unwilling to do the same. It's still her choice, but her stance is rather immature and diva-esque, isn't it? It is also an implicit threat with political undertones, and that's not her place.

Posted by: logosmrd | July 1, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse


It seems like an honest answer to a obvious question. She has worked with Gray for three years. He is a constant critic of hers.

Why would she go to work for him? And, don't just let him off the hook.
He would not keep her.

And, your statement highlights the problem with Gray and Schoo reform.

You say that Gray will reverse course if he recieves alot of pressure.

THAT IS THE PROBLEM!!! 1) the Chancelor is in charge of DCPS. Reform doesn't happen as a result of political focus groups. 2) It is that exact wishy washy kumbaya leadership sytle that got DCPS into the mess that it is.

Fenty lead the charge to fix the schools. If you change WILL change direction. And, Rhee should not and would not be effective under that style of leadership.

Posted by: politicalrealist | July 1, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

DCPS reform requires a solid transformational leader who is able to build and maintain positive relationships with all the stakeholders necessary to achieve that goal. In order to create these followers, this leader, necessarily, has to be very careful in creating TRUST, and their personal integrity is a critical part of the package that they must sell. In effect, they must sell themselves as well as the vision.

Most importantly, although the leader of DCPS reform has to be charismatic, Rhee fails because she is narcissistic and sees success only through a belief in herself rather than an earnest belief in all of the stakeholders required for true reform in DCPS, in this case, the mayor, the city council, principals, teachers, students AND parents.

By aligning success with only herself and Fenty, and not ALL the stakeholders, Chancellor Rhee has threatened the success of the entire effort. She has antagonized others for her own self interest and benefit. In reality, success is not attached to her, it never has been, it is attached to all of the stakeholders who have bought into the vision of reform and who see themselves as positive participants in that effort. Her job was to sell that vision to the stakeholders. This is where she has failed.

The trap that Michelle Rhee has fallen into is mistaking passion and confidence for truth and reality. While it is true that great things have been achieved through enthusiastic leadership, it is also true that many passionate people have led the charge right over the cliff and into a bottomless pit. Just because someone believes they are right, as does Rhee/Fenty ALL THE TIME, it does not mean they ARE right.

Rhee fails to understand that the energy that was required to get people going can also cause them to give up. Understandably, she has large amounts of enthusiasm that has been applied relentlessly and negatively which has worn out those stakeholders necessary to achieve reform.

While Chancellor Rhee may see the big picture of public school reform, as did her predecessor Clifford Janey, she has ignored the details, where the devil lurks. Because she has failed to develop the relationships necessary to take care of this level of information, she is, necessarily, doomed to fail.

If Gray wins, loosing Rhee is not, necessarily, loosing reform. It is an opportunity for a real transformational leader to implement REAL leadership that includes everyone required to make reform possible.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | July 1, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

She is just blunt and honest. Fenty hired her and is on her side. She probably took the job only if she got to run things her way.
She is a manager or CEO type, not the usual educator type. This should be obvious to everyone. She says what she wants to say.

She is good in that she gets things done, not so good in that she has strong opinions and doesn't censor herself. Apparently, she lacks empathy, she has a hard time putting herself in the place of others (voters, parents, teachers).

With a person like this running the school system, you have to hope she is correct about her way to reform. She will get the job done, but is it going to turn out the way that is best for the kids? Can it turn out worse? (Look at Detroit, for example)

She has to get test scores up to "prove" that she is doing better than previous administrations, therefore more tests. She has to get the top area teachers, so therefore higher pay for teachers. She wants to be sure the teachers teach to the tests so she is linking
their evaluations to the test scores.(Because how else is she going to show improvement?) She had to save money/cut waste so she closed schools.

This is my humble opinion after reading many articles about Rhee. I also think she cares about students as a group (DC school children)doing well academically.

She appears to not care or be unaware of the typical reasons people choose to be teachers. All this "teaching is not a life long job" stuff is nonsense. I have been a teacher for a long time, I take breaks, but I love it and I enjoy it more as years go on. I think Rhee didn't like teaching and that is why she has this crazy idea
that people will only stay in the classroom for 3 years or something.

All she said was that she wouldn't work for someone who didn't support education 100%. Ironically, when I heard that I thought, she is like me, I wouldn't work for her, she wouldn't support me 100%. I agree with her on that. Ironic, I think.

I strongly believe she was trying to answer the question "for the parents" as Ms. Cardozo put it. I do not believe she was trying to get people to vote against Gray or for Fenty, as you say, Valerie, everyone knows she is pro-Fenty.

I dislike her take on so-called ineffective teachers and wish she were promoting more anti-burnout stuff and dislike her comments about teachers. However, it is not fair to imply that she is trying to undermine the democratic process. She is just blunt.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 1, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

"Never mind that she really doesn’t know how Gray will approach their relationship"

The author simply has NO IDEA what kind of conversations Gray's people have had with her. This comment and the supposition has no place in journalism.

This author must be the first person in the entire city to presume that Michelle Rhee is not a partisan politician. All of Fenty's cabinet are campaigning for Fenty.

If the DCPS teachers are so upset about this election they should move into the city from Maryland and vote in it.

Posted by: bbcrock | July 1, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Where are the "grown-ups" in the Fenty Administration? We all know that Fenty is, among many, many other things, immature and now we have Rhee behaving like some second-rate diva. Sorry Rhee supporters but her actions are inexcusable. Anyway you spin it, this is boorish behavior and sets a bad example for children and her staff. It's interesting how folks want to make this election about Rhee and school reform only. We have many pressing issues to address in DC and the citzentry should not be held hostage by a "city employee" who appears to be more interested in getting her boss re-elected than maintaining continuity in DCPS leadership. Its foolish and dangerous to place your hopes squarely on one person. September 14th can't come soon enough!

Posted by: roscoedc | July 1, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Celestun100 - I appreciate your thoughtful response, even though I don't share your conclusion that Rhee is being her usual "just blunt" self.

True, she has often been blunt, but don't forget her $100,000 media consultant who has put a leash on her. Her statements since hiring the consultant have not been spontaneous, but rather they are carefully crafted. This radio interview was planned in advance and you can bet Rhee's response was rehearsed and vetted before she was allowed out in public.

My opinion is that Rhee's statement is a sign of how desperate the Fenty campaign is. As I commented on today's front page article:

"They are so desperate that they are pinning their hopes on getting the supposedly sophisticated voters in certain high-income DC wards to believe that school reform or any government program hinges on one person and that that person is more important than the head of government.

The Fenty campaign hopes these voters will not notice or care that Rhee is being presented more as a deity than as a civil servant, who like all mortals is subject to the voluntary and involuntary vagaries of life-- She could stay, she could leave on her own, she could be replaced, she could die or become incapacitated. The Fenty campaign and Rhee herself seem to expect that people well aware of transition-of-power issues at the highest Federal and international levels will forget that they live in a democratic society and will quake in fear at the very prospect of losing her."

The Fenty campaign is hoping that these voters, many of whom have children of their own, will not be able to see that anyone who says she puts children first, but threatens to desert them unless she is assured of total and absolute power, is a fraud and a despot."

Posted by: efavorite | July 1, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Brooklander, you say, "[Gray] lacks any vision for an alternative other than go back to some mythical past that many of us parents in the DC education system saw as a failure."

This is not accurate. Gray's vision of education for DC children ranges from birth to age 24. He has talked about it many times and he is officially rolling out his education plan this afternoon from 2-3pm at Thurgood Marshall Charter school at 2427 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE.

He's making copies of the plan available to the press before the event, so maybe, just maybe, the Post will report on it.

In any event, I hope you will make a personal effort to learn about Gray's plan so you will not pass on any more misinformation about it.

Posted by: efavorite | July 1, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Chancellor Rhee's comments are absurd.

Where are her priorities? If you love children and education, you continue to fight for what you think is best for them.

There is something very wrong with this type person being named a Chancellor of schools.

She demonstrates to children what they should not be like. If I don't get my own way, I don't work to cooperate, collaborate, I just bash the opposing viewpoint, take my ball and go home or in her case, abandon her duties.

Preposterous--is this a product of instant gratification who will produce more like her? She doesn't belong in the position.

Posted by: rsolnet | July 1, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

"This is not accurate. Gray's vision of education for DC children ranges from birth to age 24. He has talked about it many times and he is officially rolling out his education plan this afternoon from 2-3pm at Thurgood Marshall Charter school at 2427 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE."

Efavorite, some of us are smarter than to believe that document. That is why you see the questions.

It appears that you drank the Kool-Aid.

I didn't.

Posted by: bbcrock | July 1, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Please go away Rhee!

Its not about you.....

Where ever Rhee goes next , they will put a lid on her.

Posted by: gordonbundy | July 1, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse


You are probably right about spontaneity vs. carefully crafted.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 1, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Rhee is an immature, incompetent, incurious, uninformed, dishonest, inarticulate narcissist. She was overpaid and under qualified when she was hired. She never spent a single day in a public school as a student, teacher or principle before she was hired. She has never done any educational research, nor has she READ any based on her obvious lack of knowledge and understanding of that research. In fact everything she “knows” about education is wrong according to the research. (link: She had never held any job outside of the TFA intern recruitment cult, and has learned nothing since her appointment by the equally incompetent and immature Fenty. In fact she is incapable of learning either from research or her own experience because her "reform" agenda is based on either faith in disproven TFA cult dogma or, worse, fealty to her corporate puppeteers and their money. How can anyone be surprised that she is now campaigning for the only politician, east of Sacramento, who would be stupid enough to hire her?

Posted by: mcstowy | July 1, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Count the number of "I", "me", "my" statements that come from Rhee. This is about children's education, not about her political likes or dislikes.

Rhee's talk is adversarial, almost war-like it seems, hardly fitting for a Chancellor.

The children, oh yes, the children, well, they will suffer collateral damage, I suppose. Something you must accept in times of war.

Posted by: rsolnet | July 1, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Rhee may know suspect Fenty is going to lose. She may be counting on this as a way to bow out before an investigation into her influence with the contributors to the union contract brings up negative information.

Posted by: aby1 | July 1, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

OK, Brooklander - here it is -- hot off the presses. Vince Gray's education plan:

Posted by: efavorite | July 1, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

This is one of the most pathetic attempts at journalism I've ever seen.

"Never mind that she really doesn’t know how Gray will approach their relationship."

Have you even attended a single Council hearing where she has testified? Have you read any of your colleague Bill Turque's articles on the hearings? Clearly you don't read your own newspaper.

Gray hates Rhee. Do some real journalism and read a Council hearing transcript before you write this crap.

Posted by: RL67 | July 1, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I think Rhee is tactless and prone to saying what she thinks. Clearly she has a high confident opinion of her own thoughts.

Truthfully she gets credit for being transparent. She's not going to stay and try to do what she thinks should be done if she doesn't have management support from the highest levels. If you read the newspapers you know that Gray isn't going to agree with her approach or support her. There isn't any reason for her to think that and she'd do everyone a favor to hand in her resigination if Fenty is voted out.

I have no doubt that other school systems that would like to get a turnaround going would be happy to take her on - lack of diplomatic skills and all.

Posted by: RedBird27 | July 1, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Can we not get column on the following.

NYC is revamping their prekindergarten tests for their gifted program.

The city is using the Bracken School Readiness Assessment, which judges early childhood knowledge like shapes and colors. It is not a gifted measure, but rather a measure of school readiness, as its name indicates.

The city uses the equivalent of 120 I.Q., or the 90th national percentile as the cut-off scores for gifted programs.

Apparently in our democratic society everyone will agree it is fair and best for education of gifted children to separate children before they enter public school based upon scoring the equivalent of 120 I.Q. on a test.

Why would it be so wrong to use a test on all children entering public schools and separating them into classes based on this test? Is it really fair or best for education in NYC to haphazardly place children into classrooms when tests are available for children? Is it not obvious that it is not helpful to education to place children that score the equivalent of 119 I.Q. in classes with children that score the equivalent of 75 I.Q.?

Like most large cities that are plagued with the problems of Title 1 poverty public schools, NYC has enough resources to separate children based upon test results in class rooms where children will have the best chance of obtaining the most from education.

Is it not time for this country in urban areas to stops looking for quick fixes and simply start placing children in class rooms based upon their capabilities and not haphazard chance.

New York Times
New Gifted Testing in New York May Begin at Age 3

Posted by: bsallamack | July 1, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Please read gray's plan for education listed above and again here. It sure sounds like Gray is ready to work with the Chancellor:

It's the chancellor who doesn't want to work with Gray. Listen to what she said about testifying before City Council:

"There's this crazy dynamic [at City Council meetings] where every agency head is kowtowing. They sit there and get beat down. I'm not going to sit on public TV and take a beating I don't deserve. I don't take that crap.”

Posted by: efavorite | July 1, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

If Rhee wants to go, that's fine with me. There were three situations she bungled which showed her to be way too inexperienced to run a large school system effectively. 1) The circus around the budget negotiations, where Rhee was unclear as to how much money she even had. 2) She did damage to Hardy Middle School by removing its highly effective principal. 3) She explored moving Ellington to a substandard facility without consulting anyone at Ellington.

With regard to 1, Rhee resisted the advice of her first CFO who told her she was spending too much in the Central Office. Then she pressured Gandhi to hire the guy she wanted to replace the old CFO and that guy gave her the wrong information about teacher pay scales. She used that wrong information to lay off teachers after the school year had started. Then later she says she was wrong about the pay scale and she can use that money to give the current teachers raises. Then Gandhi tells her that the Central office has spent all that money. Then she says she can get money from donors but it's unclear how certain that money is because we don't generally run a city on donations. Does anyone see a pattern here?

With regard to 2 and 3, let's suppose that they were good ideas. An effective leader would have known how to carry out these changes without making it look like she was beholden to rich white people in Georgetown and Palisades. I'm really trying to be charitable about her motivations on this one but what kind of leader doesn't understand that it is foolish to needlessly alienate your constituency? And it was completely unnecessary. Rhee could have removed Pope without throwing the whole of Hardy into an uproar. She could have avoided antagonizing the Ellington community by just consulting with them rather than shutting them out. Instead she allowed it to look like she was trying to take over those schools to serve rich white kids.

This is Leadership 101, not rocket science. Rhee isn't a tough uncompromising leader -- she's a novice who is still figuring things out as she goes along and can't admit when she makes mistakes. We deserve better.

Posted by: oldmh | July 1, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

This sounds like a sign that the Mayor is desperate.

First, he knows from the polls that he "never pays any attention too" that Rhee HAD something like a 50% or maybe even 60% approval rating among voters while the same poll says he had a 30% approval rating. What does he do? He tries to get more votes by getting her to come out and say she qiuts if we dont elect him (well Bye-Bye)

Then he and his Chief publicly comment on rumors that have been around since he ran for Council making the rumors headline news for the few who may not have heard them already? BAD IDEA!

Lanier says its not true, I would never cover up anything for him and Rhee says Im quitting if you dont elect him again. Let see what "other" agency directors will come up with next to try and "save" his political career.

Oh, and Rhee, I WAS one of those 50 or 60 who approved of you despite my misgivings... well now I'm part of the 40-50% who dont approve of you. Since you are drawing a line in the sand "for the sake of the kids" I will say goodbye NOW rather than have them get attached to you so you can just walk out. Peace!

Posted by: tformation1 | July 1, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

You may not know how Gray will work with Rhee, but let me tell you: Gray is more of the same complacent, me-first DC madness that has plagued that city for generations, only served those who work in the city, and led us to where someone like Rhee could at least shine an ugly light on what's wrong. Gray has fought Rhee from the beginning, and if this guy gets into a power struggle, he may win in the short-term but once again the students loose. Gray is a caretaker: no vision, no deep or thoughtful articulation of ideas, and what has he done? Gray as mayor will take DC back to the plantation days, and only the house hands such as he will benefit.

Posted by: pdfordiii | July 1, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

I find it intriguing that Rhee is almost taking the District back to the times before Hobson v. Hansen and hypersegregation. She, along with, “Bald Boy,” are sending Black children back to the Southeast and other ghettoes rather than allow them to stay in the arts and music curriculum at Hardy. Unfortunately, Rhee hasn’t noticed that Ozzie and Harriet are dead and it’s not 1953.

Many White, savvy parents who have visions of their children acting on the international and global stage, understand that their children need to become comfortable with children of color, since their White children are about to become a minority in the U.S. demographics. Many of the White, “Teach for America” teachers that were supposed to replace the fired Black teachers, are leaving the DCPS in droves. They are what I call “Peace Corps” teachers; short term assignments and a walk on the “wild” side in urban and inner city schools.

As for the right-wing foundations, like the Walton Family Foundation, the Robertson Foundation the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Broad Foundation, their goals are to educate the wealthy (certainly not poor) White children and groom them for their supposed leadership, meaning colonial roles.

The children of color are to be indoctrinated, such that, like the Texas textbooks have been revised – slave ships were really Carnival cruise ships. Such a shame that the foundations have their own “Nurse Rivers” in Rhee. Still a further shame that the DC children are kept as the experimental subjects, even when the cure for the disease of ignorance has been available.

Kathleen Rand Reed

Posted by: therandreedgroup | July 1, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

@pdfordiii...listen up, paid Fenty staffer, your shift is over, just go to bed and try this mind game one is buying it here.

A "caretaker" as you so appropriately described Mr. Gray is EXACTLY who I/we need in charge of school reform, Mr. Gray is a man that has always given physical and emotional care and support to this city's children; Mr. Gray has always been one oversees and takes special care of the property and land of of the Distirct of Columbia and finally, Mr. Gray for the past seven (7) years has been fulfilling the function of this District government, i.e., acting as it's caretaker. So, I know that you didn't not mean your statement to be taken as a compliment, but as my bible tells me, God will always turn your evil around for good to them that love him, so again, Thank You!

Posted by: lacairaine | July 1, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

I resent the fact that the school board was pushed to the side and that Fenty picked and inexperienced person to run a school system a system this large. Fenty fired the last person in charge on the system Janey because he did not like him. He is responsible for much of what that is positive as far as test scores. He brought in the standards and other programs. He was not allowed to stay to make the real reform that is needed. Arlene Ackerman a former supt that was ran out of town by our council had a plan and two years into it she left because of all the micro-management of the council. She said that it would take about 5 years or so to bring the school up. She suggested new curriculum and summer and after school enrichment and remediation. This summer parents in Northwest have to send their children to northeast for summer school. My grandchild that has a disablity has to attend. I called Rhee's office and asked why my grandchild class did not have a teachers assistant and the teacher has a number of children in the class with disabilities in the class. I was givin the run around of why it was not possible.This is inclusion with out the supports. My daughter wanted to have her child stay in the class because she was reading above her grade level. The very manner which I was talked to was very condensing.My granddaughter and the other students with disablities in her third grade class needed supports. The teacher in that class needed it also. The grades from those students will be held against that teacher even thought her children did not have the supports. I voted for Fenty last time around but I will not vote for him this time because of the sheer arrogance of his people in the schools and the other areas of government. Educational reform is not about attacking and firing teachers and people who want to see viable change in this city.This system has many social problems that have never been dealt with correctly. Reform is talking to the community and getting their ideas. It is not about decided and then have public information sessions after you have made all the decisions. We need a seasoned education with a background or track record in reform not and aloof leader that lacks people skills. This person should have spent at least 5-10 years in a classroom. Rhee lacks the personality and the background for real reform the children of DC serve better than what they have received. Reform is for the children and the city. One person does not stop real reform.She can leave because the drama is draining and I don't care if Fenty should win again . If Gray wins she should be willing to work with the next mayor . The arrogance of this woman. The children are what is important. We deserve a leader that is able to communicate with parents teachers and the community.

Posted by: leeshato | July 2, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

@ lacairaine: I don't work for Fenty, or anyone in the District. As a native Washingtonian whose parents were DCPS teachers for almost 60 years (combined) from the 60s - 80's I have vivid memories of the tribulations of DCPS throughout so many chancellors and mayors. There are some things Rhee has done with which I disagree, but the status quo that Gray represents hasn't worked for our children for generations.
More insidiously, I've watched adults for years use education as their political stepping stone, in DC specifically. I agree with those who criticize TFA folks, and I have many of them who are educator colleagues of mine; many of them represent the newest twist on the 'education as stepping stone' paradigm. Change takes time, and if the city chooses Gray as the next mayor I hope they see the consequences this may pose towards education over the next 4 years.

Posted by: pdfordiii | July 2, 2010 3:13 AM | Report abuse


leeshato brings up a good idea for a column (hope you don't mind the suggestion),students with disabilities who are mainstreamed in regular classrooms without support.

That is one of those issues that in the classroom it is so hard to meet everybody's needs and then "accomodations" are supposedly taking care of everything. I think that happens everywhere.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 2, 2010 6:10 AM | Report abuse

pdfordiii - please read Gray's education plan, just released yesterday.

It does not seem like going backwards to me. It seems like using and improving upon what we have now.

Also, I realize you're expressing your opinion about Gray and wonder if you have any data to support it. Remember, Gray voted for mayoral control over education and intends to keep it if he becomes mayor. Fenty voted against it for Mayor Williams when Fenty was a councilmember.

Posted by: efavorite | July 2, 2010 7:21 AM | Report abuse

Rhee's comments are both grandstanding and unnecessary (which is par for the course with her).

I mean, really ... are there any DC voters out there who are thinking "I really hate Fenty and don't want to vote for him, but man Rhee is doing a great job?"

Seems to me that they are joined at the hip, and if you like one you like the other.

Posted by: bermanator34 | July 2, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I downloaded and read Gray's plan; standard political statements that seem to say the right things. I am very concerned about his repeated desire to have so many groups involved with schools. As an educator it's always curious to me how so many people think they know how a school should be run, possibly because we all went to school and think we know everything about it. Even though we are public schools, we still provide a product and are beholden to our customers, who are primarily parents and students. I'm very leery of regular 'town hall' meetings which historically become soap boxes for people once again looking to climb the back of education towards their own personal gain.

Do we bring a 'collaborative approach' to health reform, or a 'collaborative approach' to air traffic control? We teachers are to blame for this, because we have not been as resolutely professional about what we do and who we are, thus others want to 'help' us with our challenges. More humorously I wonder if these folks who want a 'seat at the table' have ever been in a middle school for a day or two, because anyone who's ever done that quickly realizes they want NO PARTS of teaching, and become our biggest supporters, and sympathizers!

Gray says he wants to 'get involved' with the Chancellor. A true leader 'gets involved' by saying simply, "Tell me what you need, and I'll do what I can to support you." If this is going to be Gray's approach, I applaud him; I don't sense that from his education plan.

The best way for a mayor to support the schools is fixing the neighborhood around the school. Mayors can keep the streets safe and clean, keep the libraries stocked, staffed, and open, as well as the recreation centers. If Gray becomes mayor and does little to deal with those issues but gets into a public spat with Rhee, it will be DC 'same-ole, same-ole' once again.

Posted by: pdfordiii | July 3, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Rhee's statement is another lie like her Baltimore Miracle.

Otherwise, c'est moi!

Posted by: edlharris | July 3, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse


As a native Washingtonian you should no that DC has never had a Chancellor before Rhee. She is a Chancellor (like Klein in NYC) because she is not qualified to be a Superintendent under NCLB.

As a child of teachers' you should know that what has happend in DCPS under Fenty's reform has become a nightmare. If steady leadership is key to the success of this reform effort, why has Rhee continue to fire her hand-picked principals and other administrators?

You may night work for Fenty but I believe you work for Rhee.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | July 4, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

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