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Good-bye Rhee. Hello who?

With Adrian Fenty's defeat in the D.C. mayoral primary, and Vincent Gray almost certain to be the new mayor, the exciting and divisive school chancellorship of Michelle A. Rhee---a boon to bloggers everywhere--is likely to end by the end of this school year, if not before. I like Rhee a lot, and wish her well on what likely will be another intriguing career adventure, but it is time to figure out what happens next with the D.C. schools.

Even without Rhee, what she and a host of energetic and creative educators have done for D.C. school children so far has the potential to teach us much about how to fix urban schools. Monday I will have a column about one Rhee move that so far has worked well, and likely will continue in the new regime.

I think Gray is a good guy with smart ideas about schools. I like his outspoken support of charters. He has the benefit of the support and advice of Kevin Chavous, a former D.C. Council member who knows more about how to make schools better than 99 percent of the politicians in the country.

Gray now has to pick a new chancellor. Chavous would be great, but I suspect he doesn't want to submit himself to such a meat-grinder of a job. I like the idea of inviting back Cliff Janey, who had some success as the head of D.C. schools before Fenty replaced him with Rhee. Janey is available because he was just told that his contract in Newark will not be renewed.

Janey is part of what I call the Education Justice League, or the Super Supers, a collection of energetic, innovative school district superheroes who make good changes as superintendents and then, invariably, run afoul of local politics and don't get their contracts renewed. Between jobs they get cushy research posts at Harvard or Columbia, waiting for another school board to ask them to save their schools.

The most available of the Super Supers at the moment is Rudy Crew, whose last job was Miami, and who has also run the schools in New York City and a few other important places. I knew him long before he became a Super Super, when he coached my son's soccer team in Pasadena, Calif. He is very smart, with a delightful, if somewhat acidic, sense of humor, which he will need if he comes to D.C.

The city's students and teachers have enormous potential. It will be interesting to see what Gray does to help them realize it.

Give us Your Take: What's next for Michelle Rhee? Who do you think should replace her as interim chancellor? How do you feel about Rhee's departure? Use #Rhee to discuss on Twitter and we'll post the best responses on our site.

Read Jay's blog every day, and follow all of The Post's Education coverage on Twitter, Facebook and our Education Web page.

By Jay Mathews  | September 15, 2010; 10:50 AM ET
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags:  Clifford Janey, Kevin Chavous, Rhee gone, Rudy Crew, who does Vincent Gray pick  
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Next: What D.C. schools could learn from the suburbs



I appreciate your calm, detached approach to moving on and surveying the landscape, but it's depressing that your post could have been written 3, 4, 6, or 8 years ago mostly with the same names and issues. It has the feeling of a merry-go-round rather than forward progress.

Posted by: horacemann | September 15, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

"Gray now has to pick a new chancellor."

I disagree. The position of "Chancellor was invented because Rhee was unqualified to serve as Superintendent. The position of Chancellor should abolished and Gray should, like other area school systems, appoint a qualified, experienced, and accomplished Superintendent, ideally one whose qualifications are verifiable. I would think someone would relish the challenge of repairing the damage done by 3+ years of mismanagement and neglect.

Posted by: mcstowy | September 15, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

George Arlotto, a Capitol Hill resident, Scout leader, DCPS parent and all around great guy, is Chief School Performance Officer in Anne Arundel County.

Let's shorten his commute and bring George home to go to work for all DC school kids.

Posted by: Trulee | September 15, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Why does Gray have to replace Rhee?

It's little wonder DC schools never emerge from the shambles, despite having a huge budget. When the leader is replaced every few years, good frickin' luck.

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe | September 15, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

The best political move for Gray would be to keep Rhee and rein her in. Then she'll quit and Gray will be free to pick someone else. This way he doesn't alienate Rhee's supporters and he can still please those who hate her.

Posted by: forgetthis | September 15, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

afsljafweljkjlfe wrote: "Why does Gray have to replace Rhee?"

Because Rhee already stated in no uncertain terms that she doesn't want to work for anyone except Fenty. It isn't Gray's fault that she is being unreasonable. If Rhee were really about the children, she would stay at her post regardless of who was mayor.

Posted by: thebandit | September 15, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

She is a political appointee. She is obliged to offer her resignation.

Gray should tell her that there are things she needs to change, communications wise, for her to serve under his administration. If she doesn't like it, she can move to California and head some school system near where her fiancee lives. The Mayor is in charge, not the chancellor. And since she is Fenty's appointee, it is appropriate for Gray to set the ground rules for working in his administration.

Posted by: dsda3731 | September 15, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Rhee likes comparisons to business. She can be the "Chainsaw Al" Dunlop of public education. If your idea of reform is just firing a lot of people who don't deserve it along with some who do, then Rhee is your reformer.

Certainly there must be some place in America that is more deserving of Michelle Rhee's leadership than Washington, DC.

Posted by: blasmaic | September 15, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

@blasmaic School started this year on time, with schedules, with books. That is a major achievement for DC.

That, in and of itself, is all the proof anyone should need that Rhee is nothing short of a miracle worker.

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe | September 15, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Rhee seems to have done some good, if she were all about the kids and the school system the administration she works under should not matter so long as they communicate with each other. So far as charter schools, I don't understand how a separate system of schools does anyone any good. It lessens the money either system can have to improve everything.

Posted by: tojo45 | September 15, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

It's important for Gray to get rid of the "chancellor" if for no other reason than this word has an autocratic connotation and Rhee lived up to its meaning.

Gray should hire an experienced superintendent who has already made significant and positive changes in urban districts. One person who comes to mind is Dr.Carl Cohn, who made Long Beach, CA into one of the most successful urban school districts in America. And he did it without bashing teachers. I know because both my sons got a world-class education in Long Beach schools while Dr. Cohn was its leader. And, I might add, the schools are among the most integrated in the country. The last thing we need is to increase segregation in our schools by establishing all-black or all-white "charters." There are other ways to provide alternatives for parents.

An experienced and successful superintendent might do the following:

Insist on a reasonable standard of behavior at all regular schools. Horribly disruptive students need to be sent to alternative schools;

Hire highly-qualified, experienced teachers with track records of success;

Collaborate with teachers to find ways to improve instruction at all schools;

Support teachers by ensuring enough supplies, books, equipment and other necessary help (e.g. fixing locks) at each school;

Consider mentors or team-teaching to help struggling teachers;

Collaborate with teachers to come up with a fair way of evaluating their peers;

Treat current teachers and principals with respect. Dismiss ineffective educators with fairness and compassion;

Offer infant and parent education to all new parents;

Offer high-quality preschools with the goal of preventing the achievement gap.

And so forth. DC can have excellent teachers but that goal can never be accomplished by mistreating and ignoring the stakeholders.

We've just seen a good example of this bit of written wisdom:

"When the largest stakeholders in any endeavor are seen as the opposition, you will fail."

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | September 15, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Getting rid of Rhee would cause a massive crisis of confidence in the DC school system. This is one thing that Gray can't just wave his want and change without steeping on a lot of toes of those who have a vested interest in school reforms (namely, the students and parents).

Posted by: constans | September 15, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse


Janey was fired from Newark because of a lack of results coupled with a huge salary. Which characterized his DC tenure as well. Why would you ever advocate bringing that man back to head-up DCPS?

Posted by: JMS7 | September 15, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Bring Janey back?

He is being let go because of his inability to do anythig he was hired to do, just like as was done with his time here in DC.

Been there, paid a fortune for that. Why in the world would we hire someone back who just got fired?

You call him a "super super", but nothing in his career illustrates that. He is simply a well educated man whose academic creditals get him through the door. He has a nice couple year honeymoon period, long enough for whatever district that has him to realize they aren't getting what they paid for, and they let him go.

Posted by: Nosh1 | September 15, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Advocating that Janey return? Under his stewardship, it was common for a dozen schools to be unable to open on the first day of school. Roofs and ceilings commonly leaked when it rained. No textbooks or schedules for a few hundred children either.

How quickly we forget that it was Fenty who got the schools open on time and schedules for the kids on day 1.

Some of the comments made about DC school issues lead me to think that many of the commenters (and probably education journalists too) have never actually been in a DC public school.

Posted by: LouisTheRogue | September 15, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

it is very tiring to see words like "world class education" used over and over again. there is absolutely NOTHING world class about an education, especially an urban one, in this country. for far too long education has been a political football, with the parents holding the tee and then getting kicked. a "chancellor", a "school ceo" and all that connotes business, not education. d.c. schools are much like the recession - it took years to get there and now all of a sudden a miracle worker is supposed to come in a set things right. if it took 20 years to destroy the system it will take AT LEAST half that to get it back. And most things termed "world class" really are not. given the intelligence of man as a species in this country, especially as of late, that "world class" education is nothing to brag about. Michelle Rhee needs to go in the same manner as cabinets change when a new administration comes in. She seems to have done more to raise public ire than to raise the level of achievement in the school system and that is a terrible shame. D.C. deserves someone who will put the kids first - textbooks, teachers who care, safe and clean schools - not someone who is more interested in how she seems to look on television news. The parents, teachers and children need to say to Rhee "goodbye michelle...we wish you well..go somewhere else...and create this education h e l l......

Posted by: drum7591 | September 15, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I agree that most of the commenters on this subject probably haven’t been inside a DC public school in years, if ever. Having had kids in DCPS for the past 18 years and having seen numerous superintendents come and go, having seen horrible principals and great ones, horrible teachers and great ones, Chancellor Rhee is the only one who had the necessary sense of urgency to realize that things needed to change and change quickly. Jay – your story about how Rhee quickly changed principals after meeting with only the teachers at a school – no administrators – is what I’ll miss about Rhee if she leaves. Janey would be the absolute wrong choice – he spent his tenure here locked inside his office – even the principals couldn’t get a meeting with him. I agree that Rhee is not a glad hander or a people person and doesn’t suffer fools well at all. But she is getting the job done by, among other things, putting first class principals in schools that badly need them. It’s easy to accuse someone of bashing all teachers when a few get fired, but believe me, there are still many in the system who have no business in a classroom. Many of these got hired in the days when some viewed DC govt and DCPS as the employer of last resort. Unfortunately and ironically, these are the teachers who usually get shunted to the schools where the parents are the least knowledgeable and least organized to complain. Rhee has done more for the schools in the lower income neighborhoods in this city than any superintendent I’ve seen.

Posted by: tyty1 | September 15, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Jay, I've read and admired your work for years and I am going to assume you were sleep deprived and overworked when you wrote this. I know you care about kids and education and I am sure you didn't mean to sound so flip and off the cuff. But I am going to encourage you before posting silly opinion pieces like this one to talk to some real DCPS parents about the issues we are facing without waxing so callously about the situation we are in.

Cliff Janney? Really? I'm taking deep breaths. No, that is NOT in my kids best interest. We need Michelle Rhee to finish what she started. Please support progress not regression.

Posted by: alauriam | September 15, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I will offer this name, Maria Carstarphen. she was the chief academic Officer under Janey that is currently superintendent in Austin, Tx. She developed many of the plans under Janey, and knows DC.

The Janey endorsement was a shock. I don't think Janey should have been fired but Gray can't hire him. Gray needs to find a young articulate person with knowledge of education and instruction. Passion and a strong sense of community and team building would be essential. Janey does not communicate, much like fenty. he has an arrogance about himself too.

Isn't Rudy Crew the name that was floating around as Fenty's 1st superintendent after janey was canned? He was a top candidate when janey was selected too. He withdrew due to the politics of DC.

I would not refer to these guys as the Super Friends or Super Supers, but mercenaries. These guys are special ops, placed in no win situations deep behind enemy lines and they are wiling to do it for the right price.

Posted by: oknow1 | September 15, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

If Michelle Rhee met an ultimate demise on tomorrow, would DCPS still be destined to fail?

The comments from Fenty/Rhee supporters characterizes part of the exact reason why Fenty was fired. He tied himself to a rather unqualified individual who ran the schools like a science project. At this point, we're hopeful for what we "think" the outcomes of Rhee's efforts will be. Yet, Janey is thrown under the bus when it was his master education and facilities plan that Rhee eventually implemented.

Michelle Rhee did not birth Jesus. Gray should do a broad search and find the best possible fit for this city. The fact that Fenty lost proves that she does not fit that bill. Many voted against Fenty because of Rhee.

Posted by: dcis1 | September 15, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

@afsljafweljkjlfe, the school year began on time, but its chief "reformer" had already pledged that there would be no continuation of her miracle working if the voters did not deliver the miracle she demanded at the polls.

Posted by: blasmaic | September 15, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

No, not Dr. Janey. He did well w curric dev, but not too well in a plan to execute it. Further, was not bold enough to get schools closed, text books out of the warehouse, school infra. fixed, and not audacious enough to actually carry off evaluation of teachers. He might have been suitable for another time, but not for DC now. And we need to know why Newark dropped his contract extension. He should go elsewhere, with the city's best wishes.

Posted by: axolotl | September 15, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

You like her a lot?? What do you like about her? Really?

Michelle Rhee taught for only three years...without an education degree. Then she quit teaching. She never ran a school...she has no clue how challenging it is to be a school administrator.
Here she is...rudely telling people what they should do when she has no experiences and credentials at all.

I am not defending DCPS. It has a lot of problems that need to be addressed and fixed. But someone who is knowledgeable, experienced and capable should be hired to do the work. Not some Ivy League graduate who thinks she or he has answers to everything while all he/she has is just arrogance and ignorance.

Posted by: salukiindc | September 15, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Bring Janey back?

He is being let go because of his inability to do anythig he was hired to do, just like as was done with his time here in DC.

Posted by: Nosh1 |


He was let go because the Republican Governor thought giving equal resources to Newark was "costing too much" and wanted to go back to the old system of separate but unequal education that existed in New Jersey before. The fact that Newark has the highest graduation rate in the nation for black males was all the more reason to remove Janey as soon as possible. After all, if the high school graduation rate remained that high, they might start competing for college slots and jobs with the rich white kids.

Posted by: mcstowy | September 15, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Typo: That should be "False."

Posted by: mcstowy | September 15, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Suggestion: Dr. Deborah Jewell-Sherman, former Richmond, VA Superintendent.

Posted by: mcstowy | September 15, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

*But someone who is knowledgeable, experienced and capable should be hired to do the work*

Look how well that worked out for DCPS before. Face it: people were angry with Rhee for what she symbolized-- an "outsider" coming to fix DCPS, which was effectively rubbing it in DC's face that they couldn't fix problems themselves and had to depend on someone else to do it. The worst thing for Rhee and Fenty was that they were succeeding, which was a slap in the face to longtime established DCPS employees and parents, and the voters decided to stand up and punish them for the crime of doing what they couldn't do themselves. Because nothing's worse than having someone else succeed at what you can't do yourself.

Posted by: constans | September 15, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

DC schools need Mr. Kotter.

Posted by: rpcv84 | September 15, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

drum7591 & dcis1 very well put.

Posted by: missboo | September 15, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Great suggestions, including Mr. Kotter. Keep them coming. I share the despair of D.C. parents who would like to see some consistency and longevity in superintendents, but that is not usually possible in a constitutional democracy, so we have to get over that. Gray can't keep Rhee because a substantial number of the people who voted for him did so to get rid of her, and he can't alienate so many people so early in his administration. We Rheeites should be happy that Gray is an intelligent man with good political sense (at least more political sense than the current mayor) and obviously wants D.C. schools to thrive.
I was reading up on Grover Cleveland this morning because it seems to me we have a talented and young D.C. mayor who just lost an election, and a talented and young president who might lose one in 2012. Both have many accomplishments to be proud of, at least in the minds of many voters, and could come back for a separate second term, as Cleveland did. People may come to miss Fenty's stubborn aggressiveness if Gray fails to get much done, just as the American people, who voted Cleveland out of office because they wanted more tariffs to protect American business, got tired of the high prices the Harrison administration tariffs produced and voted Cleveland back in.
The above shows why the Post will NEVER let me write a political column, but still, it is possible.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | September 15, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Gray should not kneel down to Rhee. If she goes so be it. Fenty got down on his knees and sold his soul to the devil and look where got him.

Posted by: guylady201001 | September 15, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

*Gray can't keep Rhee because a substantial number of the people who voted for him did so to get rid of her, and he can't alienate so many people so early in his administration.*

I would have more confidence in a Gray administration if I felt he was the kind of person who was willing to take the votes and money of many of his supporters and then ignore them to do what needed to be done anyway. The problem is that Gray is ultimately a people-pleaser and will prioritize being liked over keeping DC on the right path. Gray unfortunately allied himself with some bad eggs in order to get elected, and Gray doesn't have the heart let them down.

Posted by: constans | September 15, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Suggestion - Larry Cuban, Stanford, Master Teacher, Director of Staff Development, DCPS. Cardozo Project in Urban Teaching - joint project with Howard University, former Superintendent of Arlington Schools. Even if you have to Scape him in 2 days a week to listen and offer ideas.
I like the City Paper description of Michelle Rhee: When it comes to reforming a failed school system, you either go monomaniacal or you go home. Make nice all you want...but bad schools = child abuse! Enough!

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | September 15, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Ask the talking heads edu-wonks. TNR just quote “Anyone you talk to in the country about urban school reform will tell you that it takes at least five to ten years” If he can name a "reformer" who got things done after five years, D.C. could hire him or her.

Seriously the RttT that had looked so dangerous now looks like an opportunity. IMPACT is a tool. In the hands of Rhee, it had to be fought. In the hands of a collaborative leader, it could be beneficial. Test score growth in the hands of management to evaluate teachers is inherently dangerous. Test score growth in the hands of peer review could work.

Its a shame because Rhee could have done well at the nuts and bolts of the job, but she was hired for a position that she wasn't remotely qualified for. Keep some of her people who can concentrate on "blocking and tackling" in running the central office. Back off from the idea of a single person running the district.

Why not use the RttT, philanthropy, and the networks of educators that have been started to make a longterm investment in human capital. BUT tell those new "reformers" that they don't have a monopoly on talent. Don't impose litmus tests and try to create clones. Consider the possibility that those of us with hard earned experience in the inner city might not just be a corrupted "status quo." Listen to the social scientists and maybe "eformers" might enventually learn from them.

Payzant or Crew might take the job for a shortterm and train/discover their successor. just hoping on that.

Posted by: johnt4853 | September 15, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

@Constans: You are so wrong. Successful school districts like FCPS and MCPS are doing just great with people who actually know about education. I don't know where you get the idea that DCPS is doing much better under Rhee. The achievement gap is getting wider. Fewer schools are meeting federal requirements.... you don't know all these?

Posted by: salukiindc | September 15, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

* I don't know where you get the idea that DCPS is doing much better under Rhee.*

Things have improved, though things did take a downtown in line with the economy. What is clear is that the "knowledgeable" people within DCPS made a mess of the system. What was deeply insulting for many people in DC was the fact that an "outsider" came in to fix it, and there's nothing people hate more than being forced to face the fact that they can't do it themselves. Had Fenty appointed an incompetent local who had kept on all the incompetent teachers and administrators, he would likely be cruising to re-election. Bringing in Rhee who obviously did not have any patience for the widespread incompetence within the system and tolerance for failure was a huge insult to the people in DCPS who had turned it into that state in the first place.

Posted by: constans | September 15, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

If Rhee is fired, the message is: "don't fire teachers" (or possibly, "don't fire black teachers if you're not black"). It's bad news for the new liberal consensus that achievement scores can be raised by improving teacher quality.

Posted by: qaz1231 | September 15, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Jay, please put the crack pipe down, what are you talking Janey, coming back....please.

Gray, should do everything in his power to keep Rhee.

Posted by: weaverf | September 15, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

@blasmaic School started this year on time, with schedules, with books. That is a major achievement for DC.

That, in and of itself, is all the proof anyone should need that Rhee is nothing short of a miracle worker.

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe
People have a short memory. It was last year when the entire school system was disrupted because too many teachers were hired with not enough money in the budget to pay for them.

Posted by: bsallamack | September 15, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

People: Please stop saying that Rhee is a miracle worker. There many more people that are highly qualified to do the job and ten times better. She only taught for three years in Baltimore and announced to new teachers in DC this year that she had students put tape over their mouths because they made to much noise in the hallway on their way to lunch. If any teacher in DCPS had done this they would have been fired. Mind you when the students took off the tape in the cafteria their lips started to bleed. Also, she let new teachers know that she had a field trip with her students after school and she did not get emergency numbers. One student had know parent at home when they returned. She left the student with a neighbor. This is who you want to run our school system. For all of you who think she brought the test scores up please go to and check out the scores. Only 12 schools in DCPS made AYP. Schools west of the park did not make AYP. Oh and by the way many teachers who received mimimally effective had never received that rating before. Many good teachers have been let go. Reason - so that inexperienced teachers could come in. Your so called great new teachers come to DCPS for the money. They get a free masters and their student loans paid off. They have no invested interest in BLACK CHILDREN. Good bye Rhee and go to Calif. and save some one there.

Posted by: bubbles3863 | September 15, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Rhee was a blank page that a lot of people projected their ideas onto. Nothing more, nothing less.

Posted by: mamoore1 | September 15, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

I'll add to the chorus of readers shocked at your suggestion to bring Janney back. Janey was the one who shoehorned in the adoption of Everyday Math and Connected Math Program without hardly any notice. There was a public hearing held at rather quick notice. Mr. Janey very skillfully led the school board to an adoption of two math programs that are questionable at best, and disastrous at worst. See for further details.

Posted by: BarryGarelick | September 15, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Keep Rhee on to make sure door locks get changed.

Posted by: edlharris | September 15, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Rhee must be replaced with a leader capable of understanding and working the teacher's union. The leader should have a large, out-sized personality that will galvanize the attention of the community. Preference should be given to a black woman of known character, worthy of DC.

I nominate Ms. Barbara Bullock.

Posted by: wagtdn | September 15, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

I recognize the good arguments made by the many here who doubt the effectiveness of Cliff Janey, but I also recall that the NAEP results showing D.C. kids on the upswing included part of the Janey years. He didn't have much time to show what he could do. He made a great effort to win the school professionals and the community over to his side, which many have wished Rhee had tried harder to do. He obviously now knows the city and its education problems well. He might be the best person to save the best of what Rhee has done, and work on fixing the rest. Other than Chavous, he seems to be the person with the most stature who knows best all the little secrets of DCPS.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | September 15, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully Mayor Gray will select a well qualified superintendent to lead DCPS. Will Jerry Weast be available?

Posted by: lacy41 | September 15, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

According to Colbert King and many other long time DC residents the new Chancellor just better be African American, everything else is secondary. So, if offering names please list a racial code of some sort so we know whats acceptable to the local polity.

Posted by: mendelsonmustgo | September 15, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse


"Had Fenty appointed an incompetent local who had kept on all the incompetent teachers and administrators, he would likely be cruising to re-election."

Well, USA is a huge country. Why does the mayor have to hire a 'local'?? There are great leaders all over United States. Any of them is more experienced and knowledgeable than Michelle Rhee. It's actually pretty hard to find a leader less qualified than she is.

DCPS is really bad. It needs to fire lazy staff. It needs urgent reform. But only by someone who is competent. This person doesn't have to be black white Asian or red.....he/she doesn't need to be from DC. He/She just needs to be qualified. Period!

Posted by: salukiindc | September 15, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

@ Constans:

Read carefully before you comment. I never said DCPS doesn't have bad teachers. I never said DCPS doesn't need to be fixed.

I am Asian and I teach in Fairfax County. Whoever leads DCPS really doesn't matter to me. I just hate to see people who have no idea about education do whatever they like to harm education and children.

Posted by: salukiindc | September 15, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

What is the future of DC public schools?

I predict 7 years of bad luck.

Posted by: millerroberta | September 15, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

I have been living in DC for 10 years and only in the last couple of years have I seen this much improvement in DC Schools. Before now,( i.e. Rhee' era) if I told anyone that I am thinking of staying in DC for my kid’s education they would look at me strangely. I am disheartened to see that people are thinking of race instead of looking at the best person for their children’s education. I think many parents will think twice about staying or moving to DC if the momentum is lost in the improvement of the DC improvement system.

Sometime when things are so bad, you need someone tough to make a difference. This position should be judged by results not by popularity, race or likability.

Posted by: komala1 | September 15, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

komala and others, whether we like it or not race was a key issue to the voters. See the summaries from respected WaPo writers Colbert King and Courtland Malloy here:


Posted by: mendelsonmustgo | September 15, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse

I had three kids in DCPS when Clifford Janey was at the helm. PLEASE do not advocate his return.

There is more to schooling than test scores. Janey did not have the guts to close the small schools that were a blight on the entire system. Overenrolled schools did not have proper staffing, no specialists, librarians, asst. principals, counselors, etc., because of the high costs to run the under-enrolled schools (no urban jursisdiction in the country had so many of them.) Now, my neighborhood school is staffed appropriately.

Textbooks didn't arrive on time. Air conditioners were broken or nonexistent. You couldn't get a light bulb replaced in the gym for months, sometimes years. Janey signed an illegal contract with the teachers union that designated about 10 half days as "full instructional days." It would have given us the shortest academic calendar in the country -- until parents (in ward 3) complained and Victor Reinoso got involved. And bad teachers? It was the dance of the lemons, rotated from school to school. The union does what it needs to do for its members, but the kids need a strong voice on the other side of that bargaining table.

Yes, the man adopted a curriculum -- largely based on Massachusetts standards. He did not create the thing from whole cloth.

But he could not run a school system.

Also, Jay, please check WPost reporting when Janey was hired in DC. DC wanted Crew or Cohn, both declined because of the governing structure in place at the time. Also, Janey left Rochester under controversy and a financial cloud.

Please. Not Clifford Janey.

Posted by: trace1 | September 16, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse

One more thing. Please don't confuse adopting standards with implementing them. It was incredibly frustrating having kids in the system under Janey. I would look at the standards and see what my kids were supposed to be learning (e.g., essay writing, Greek and Latin roots) and then realize that they weren't taught any of it.

Adopting curriculum standards does not amount to a hill of beans without accountability.

Posted by: trace1 | September 16, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

to trace1, thanks for the good comment. My memories of the effort to recruit Crew and Cohn are still vivid. I accompanied Tony Williams and others to Long Beach (the place of my birth) to cover their attempts to recruit Cohn, and I did talk to Rudy at the time. I sensed they both thought the governance situation in DC was too crazy for them. I wonder if a mayor-run system would change their tune. I will step back a bit from my mentioning of Janey, since many of the points made about him here are well argued. But I think he would have done better if he had had Rhee's powers, and the unshakable support of the mayor.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | September 16, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Umm I feel the need to remind folks that Janey had to go through an Elected Board of Education!!!!.... Of course he could not just close schools the Elected BOE had to vote to do it!... Rhee only had to answer to Fenty, who gave her the green light for everything!!!

Lets see how he does without all the red tape!!!!

Posted by: CedricCS | September 16, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Why should we get someone Newark doesn't want?

Posted by: alarico | September 16, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I think Rhee should go. She'll be fine, as Fenty made her a star (for doing absolutely nothing but abusing power and spreading a lot of sheer rhetoric)...Besides, she has a millionaire husband. The District can do much better.

Posted by: rasheeedj | September 16, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Usally, when new elect personnel come in they bring ,there people with them and trust me this will not be different,also is Michelle the only person that can do this job people act if she leaves the city will close their doors.She is not going to stay and work under this adminstration what other chancellor openly campaign for the mayor.

Posted by: annettecovington35 | September 18, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Michelle will leave,she will not work under this adminstration when she returns from her vacation also is she the only person that can do this job,Im sure there are other qualified people ,if she leaves will Washington still stands and someone made the comment that sistas were mad because she is marrying Kevin Johnson I dont think any one really cares who she is marrying,it is suppose to be about the children.

Posted by: annettecovington35 | September 18, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Michelle is an example of someone who doesn't have the training and capacity of a well rounded individual. We live in a democracy and social skills of which Michelle has none is the most important pillar of success. She would do well in North Korea where my 'way is the only way'. She clearly has a cultural disdain for black people regardless of her personal partner. Good people like you who truly agonize about how to fix urban schools keep missing the elemental truth that it takes a good village to create a good school. When this country starts treating blacks like whites the black middle class will grow and their communities will flourish and the schools will naturally follow. Fenty too has a disdain for blacks. That may sound strange to you but would not if you were to examine the history of race in this country. Not one black appointee among his top aides. Let you and the next Mayor and the President be very careful about Charter Schools and attacking teachers. It is just another scheme that avoids the real problems. Charter Schools is a business model that will be here today and gone tomorrow seeking profits else where. You teach our kids from year one to year three to read and write and speak and think and guess what - you have great students and teachers and schools.

Posted by: vjturn | September 19, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Rhee-form, edu-profiteers & sleazy HYPOCRISY ==
What was helicopter-in Michelle Rhee’s ‘Damage Control’ for (boyfriend) Kevin Johnson?

note: Michelle Rhee was on the
board of directors of Kevin's
privatized High School charter
-- during the time when there were financial illegalities
& misappropriations of federal grants and also a pattern of outlandish sexual misconduct perpetrated by school director Kevin Johnson involving minor teens & subordinate
(Americorps) school staff.

(must read) ==>


Posted by: honestaction | September 20, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

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