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Rhee Passes on Bonus

Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, who hands out cash bonuses to teachers in schools that show big jumps in test scores, was eligible for a bonus of her own last year. Rhee's contract with the District calls for a performance bonus of up to 10 percent of her $275,000 base salary.

According to the contract terms, it's based on effectiveness in "Student Academic Achievement and Improvement; Financial Systems and Management; School Facilities Maintenance, Improvement and New Construction; Student and Staff Safety and Security; Staff Improvement; Communications with Community and Families; and Technology." Mayor Adrian M. Fenty decides.

Standardized test scores grew significantly on Rhee's watch last year. But Fenty might get an argument on some of the other criteria. For openers, school construction chief Allen Y. Lew, not Rhee, oversees facilities. Student and staff safety and security have been enough an issue that the chancellor is revising the disciplinary code. One middle school, Hart, needed an emergency intervention last fall after assaults on teachers and over-the-top student behavior.

It's apparently all moot. Dena Iverson, Rhee's spokeswoman, e-mailed: "Considering this difficult fiscal climate at this time, the Chancellor has decided to forgo her earned bonus."

By Marcia Davis  |  January 29, 2009; 1:42 PM ET
Categories:  Education  
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Will the Mayor release his evaluation to support a determination DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee earned a bonus? In the spirit of openness and transparency, her evaluation should be made public.

Robert Vinson Brannum

Posted by: robert158 | January 29, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Will Mayor Adrian Fenty release his evaluation to support a determination DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee earned a bonus? In the spirit of transparency and open government, shouldn't her evaluation be made public?

Robert Vinson Brannum

Posted by: robert158 | January 29, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Where is the data substantiating an earning of the said "foregone" bonus to begin with? I live in Virginia but I want to know how long people in DC are going to continue to sit on this woman's bandwagon and ride without being answered to. Why is it that DC municipal officials -- i.e. the mayor -- do not realize they are elected/appointed by the people, of the people and for the people? Moreover, why is the chancellor accountable only to the mayor without the Council being able to question her? Why is she consistently allowed to disrespect and circumvent questions and accountability measures from the elected city council who are, again, elected by the people, of the people and for the people -- at least in most cases? Finally, since we all know that since former superintendent Janey, who was credentialed and experienced as No Child Left Behind says an educational leader should be, created the plan she continues to use, why is it so difficult to provide data that supports the theory that she has been successful? I mean after all, they did plagiarize (steal) another district's master plan at the beginning of the new administration's tenure through the deputy mayor for education's office. How hard is it to follow someone else's work?

Aren't public service/attorneys also punishable for stealing and other examples of dishonesty?

Mr. Brannum is right on the ball: why can't everyone see their evaluations, in the sense of transparency? This is supposed to the accountability mayor. Transparency is a key element of accountability. Be accountable. What are you afraid people will see?

Posted by: southyrndiva | January 29, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Rhee shouldn't be getting a bonus. There are vacant school staff positions in DC Public Schools across the City because downtown does not have enough money to hire teachers and other needed staff members. The children are the ones who are suffering as a result.

Also, I think having a personal driver is enough of a bonus.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | January 29, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Chancellor Rhee says she chose to forgo her bonus, but who knows? Perhaps the Mayor cautioned her against it, considering her record - or perhaps her lawyer suggested it wouldn't look good.

As much of a publicity seeker as she has been, I'm sure someone, if not she herself,realized that taking a bonus at this point would not serve her well. No, it's much better to publicize that she humbly determined NOT to take the bonus.

Perhaps her next move will be to donate the amount that she could have received to pay the electricity bills for all the disadvantaged students who can't do their homework at night because their parents can't pay the bills. But then, perhaps not, because she doesn't think that something like that really should interfere with student learning.

“As a teacher in this system, you have to be willing to take personal responsibility for ensuring your children are successful despite obstacles…You can’t say, ‘My students didn’t get any breakfast today,’ or ‘No one put them to bed last night,’ or ‘Their electricity got cut off in the house, so they couldn’t do their homework.”

Posted by: efavorite | January 29, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Letsbereal2, I agree with you on her not taking the bonus. Your post makes me think about whether there is enough money to hire additional school-based staff or whether the money has been spent in other ways. DCPS is the only agency that is not having its budget cut. After so many schools being closed and with salaries being the highest cost to a system, why is DCPS still "hollering broke?" But letsbereal2, I'm with you!!

Efavorite, you're exactly right. It seems like there is blame for every stakeholder in DC except the "illustrious" chancellor. The quote from The Atlantic speaks volumes. She wants no excuses for teachers but school based staff faces obstacles that would make central administrators' heads hurt. Why are there still six assistant superintendents with 26 less schools? Those salaries reallocated could at minimum provide the reading and math coaches most schools except the rich schools lack. I'm thinking of Oyster which I'm told has nine additional staff members this year. Is that a coincedence?

Posted by: southyrndiva | January 30, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I'll give her a lot of credit for this. She's the first politician I've EVER heard of who didn't take a bonus.

Good for her! Thank you Chancellor Rhee!

Posted by: pfish | January 30, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

The best thing about Chancellor Rhee is that she is willing to make all the right enemies! FINALLY someone is in this job for the children instead of the schmoozing.

Posted by: pfish | January 30, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Pfish - could you list the "right enemies" that the Chancellor was willing to make in order to get her job done?

I assume you think that making enemies is a good example for the children. Did your superintendent teach you this by example when you were a child?

Do you know of other jobs where the boss is praised for making enemies?

Posted by: efavorite | January 30, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

oh good, she did not accept a bonus...where is her evaluation supporting that she earned one? as a public employee, i agree that her evaluation should be public. i also think that the parents of the schools should have an input as to whether she earned a bonus. my child attends a DCPS, but no one asked for my opinion regarding "how is Rhee doing?"

Posted by: tb1965 | January 30, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

No one asks for anyone's opinion about rhee or her boss. That's because people are afraid to speak out about how things are really going because they'll be fired, discredited or blackballed. Look at the record of what's been going on. People need to rise up, ask questions and demand answers. This mayor is supposed to the accountability mayor. Can he define the word?

Since when have leaders been unaccountable to the people they serve? As Abraham Lincoln and President Obama have said, leaders are accountable to the people they serve. Leaders are public servants, the public should not have to serve as their maids and butlers. Gone are days when Marie Antoinette said "Let them eat cake!" There is a new President in town. Let's hope he saves our nation's capital and that some conversations about appropriate behavior take place at future lunches, dinners and visits because the mayor could learn a lot from President Obama and our wonderful first lady as well as from the magnificent Bidens!

Posted by: southyrndiva | January 31, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Given how much more she is getting paid than any superintendent in the area, and more than Janey, after a third of his responsibilities were moved to Gist, she is more than already getting a bonus.

Posted by: qazqaz | January 31, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

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