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Jay on the Web: Michelle Rhee's Report Card

Post reporter Bill Turque took an in-depth look at Michelle Rhee's first two-years as a chancellor of D.C. schools over the weekend, and Jay weighed in with a three-part sit-down interview with Rhee. For the Post's takeaway, see this item by Jay. Now, reviews of Rhee's tenure are starting to trickle in from around the blogosphere:

Teacher Beat, says Rhee is -- and may always be -- an outsider in D.C. Schools:

At the time she stepped into the position, Rhee was characterized as an “outsider” because she was entering from the nonprofit sector (also because she was young, female, Korean American, and TFA-bred, but the nonprofit angle was easier to explain away). Today, many would say the characterization still rings true, but for a different reason: Rhee makes it a point to emphasize that her loyalties lie only with the students, not with the teachers or the status quo bureaucracy...
And though the news media have been merciful—OK, even fawned and groveled at times—Rhee struggles to gain headway with those education players who’ve been entrenched in the D.C. game for years. It's possible she will continue to remain “outside” as long as she stays pinned to a self-imposed agenda, resists collaborating with stakeholders, refuses to sugarcoat the dismal realities of the system, and aims recruitment efforts at a “new breed” of idealists who are willing to sacrifice their personal lives to make a splash themselves. Rhee seems to believe that outside is where she has to be in order to make changes—and ultimately a name for herself. Others may see it as a futile effort.

D.C. Teacher Chic believes Rhee has made Herculean efforts:

I have no doubt that Chancellor Rhee is thinking nearly every moment of every day on what she can do for the students enrolled in the DCPS. I have no doubt that Chancellor Rhee has nothing but the best of intentions for these students. And I have no doubt, that with her continued hard work and determination, she will succeed in reforming (for the last time, hopefully) the DCPS.
It doesn't take a teacher with 15 years of experience (or a genius for that matter) to see what's wrong with the DCPS. But, it does take someone with bravado and with guts to fight the fight (and to stand up against all odds) for the students of the DCPS.

Eduflack sees some rough sailing ahead for Rhee:

Anniversaries are nice, but the true measure of Rhee's reign will be the student achievement data to be released this summer. This would be the second achievement report for Rhee. Last year, scores were up, and the Rhee administration took full credit. Fact of the matter, former superintendent Cliff Janey deserves some of the credit, as his programs, put in place years before, bear some of the responsibility for improvement. Rhee does get some credit, simply because teachers and students embraced what was new and demonstrated a new enthusiasm for learning in the first year.
Personally, I don't have similar hopes for year two. The closing of schools, the removal of principals, the fights between DCPS and the teachers union, and the lack of "newness" don't bode well for 2008-09 student data. Reformers need to be prepared for the fact that there may be a dip in DCPS student achievement. We've seen it time and time again, where years two and three are the struggle, and the true measure of reform is seen in the out years — years four, five, and beyond — once the reforms have truly taken hold and can have a longitudinal impact on a wide number of students. Here's hoping Rhee bucks the trend, but we need to be prepared for the fact that DCPS scores may not demonstrate the steady rise so many presume is a given.

By Washington Post Editors  | June 17, 2009; 1:39 PM ET
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags:  D.C. Schools, Michelle Rhee  
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Comments

Wow! Thanks Jay for an even-handed column detailing various blog opinions.

DCPS is definitely headed in the right direction, but going through rough patches. My son's old school is finally seeing their principal forced out after 5 increasingly disastrous years. I've heard that about 7 teachers might be fired/retired from that school meaning that about 18 were let go in 2 years. It seems that now almost all the teachers who I identified as problems have been fired.

People called me wrong, but I wasn't wrong- there are much worse teachers in DCPS than any surrounding county, they don't know who they are themselves, and they simply are an impediment to progress. Now that I see just about everyone who I thought was too lazy or uneducated to be a teacher fired... it fills my heart with pride that I was a part of getting them out of the schools.

Rhee and the activist parents are part of a revolution in DC and the conservative old guard can buck us only as long as they have jobs. Once they don't they're simply a PG County resident with an opinion we don't have to listen to.

Posted by: bbcrock | June 17, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

bbcrock, I do not live or work near D.C. or PG County but I am very interested in what is being done in their educational systems. This is simply because if they fail to educate their children, they may one day make it to my neighborhood and commit crimes against us. I want these people to be successful. I want to be able to visit D.C. without the fear of being a victim of crime. D.C. needs more parents like you to get involved. You should not be a minority, you should be the majority. What I've noticed about D.C. schools, the best schools in D.C. are average schools in my neighborhood. The competition for students in D.C. is fare greater than just being proficient in reading or math. We live in an advanced society so D.C. should be more concerned about producing students who are able to perform accordingly. I am thrilled that the Chancellor has children in D.C. public schools because they are directly affected by the educational reform experiment. I believe that's why she is so passionate about what she does. Her children's future are stake. She even stated that D.C. school do not compare to Colorado schools where she came from.

Posted by: shortlady2 | June 18, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

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