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Rhee 'cold-blooded,' says N.Y. Times' Herbert

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, in a tough piece Tuesday drawing parallels between President Obama's political predicament and the demise of D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, slams Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee:

"Mr. Fenty was cheered by whites for bringing in the cold-blooded Michelle Rhee as schools chancellor," Herbert wrote. "She attacked D.C.'s admittedly failing school system with an unseemly ferocity and seemed to take great delight in doing it. Hundreds of teachers were fired and concerns raised by parents about Ms. Rhee's take-no-prisoners approach were ignored. It was disrespectful."

Read the column here.

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By Bill Turque  | September 21, 2010; 1:10 PM ET
 
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Comments

So, because she was "disrespectful" to the Black community, DC voters decided to teach Fenty a lesson...and the kids suffer as a consequence. Really brilliant.

Posted by: biff_t84 | September 21, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

If Rhee had really wanted to improve education for the children, she would have lured fully qualified, experienced teachers to the district. She would have sent representatives to watch these people teach in order to make certain that she was hiring successful instructors. Instead, she hired people right out of college from the organization that she founded. Was this even legal?

Thank goodness the national media is beginning to see the truth. When all this is over, Valerie Strauss and Bill Turque will be credited as among the first journalists to do some real investigating beyond reading the stories of others. Thank you, Bill and Valerie. Much of America's strength depends on freedom and truthfulness of the press.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | September 21, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Bill and these other columnists can provide us with an analysis of how DCPS worked so well when everyone tolerated each other and no one got fired or had their feelings hurt.

Posted by: minhle1 | September 21, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

So, because she was "disrespectful" to the Black community, DC voters decided to teach Fenty a lesson...and the kids suffer as a consequence. Really brilliant.

Posted by: biff_t84 | September 21, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse
====

So because "whites" don't like the way us "black folk" voted, we must be on the wrong side of things. As usual, "you" know what's best for us.

Really typical.

Posted by: dcis1 | September 21, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

So Rhee judged the teachers on their character (competence) rather than the color of their skin. B-I-G mistake these days; I guess the MLK standard no longer applies...at least in DC.

Posted by: JMACSR | September 21, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

"So because "whites" don't like the way us "black folk" voted, we must be on the wrong side of things. As usual, "you" know what's best for us.

Really typical."

So you were satisfied with the DCPS prior to Rhee? DCPs past performance was the best thing for the community. Who is really self-serving here?


Posted by: minhle1 | September 21, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm a black resident of dc and i applaud what michelle rhee has done. Who cares if she was disrespectful to lousy teachers who weren't doing their job? The black community should be ashamed to care more about unqualified teachers holding onto a job instead of bemoaning the state of education of black children in this city. It's disgusting.

Posted by: Tmac09 | September 21, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm a black resident of dc and I applaud what Michelle Rhee has done. Who cares if she was disrespectful to lousy teachers who weren't doing their job? The black community should be ashamed to care more about unqualified teachers holding onto a "job" instead of bemoaning the state of education of black children in this city. It's disgusting.

Posted by: Tmac09 | September 21, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone else read the article in September's Ebony where Michelle Rhee proudly touts the fact that programs like TFA and her 'New Teacher Project' are bringing in teachers from the 'elite' schools? She had to backtrack when
Dr. Julianne Malveaux, president of Bennett College, challenged her.
And, Rhee didn't mention that these programs bring in teachers with no disciplinary skills (like herself -- remember her fond anecdote about "taping shut students' mouths shut") and who are temp. workers not committed to the profession of teaching (ditto).
These programs are NOT designed to develop a professional core of teachers. As a teacher with 15 years experience,
I can tell you, no one becomes an expert in only 2 or 3 years. I don't understand why Rhee (or anyone else) spends their energy trying to build and repair schools with these types of temporary teachers. They are a band aid --
nothting more (band-aids are easily peeled off, fall off) --
a pseudo-reform sham providing cover for a Wall Street-funded
edu-profiteering scam doesn't heal anything and doesn't construct anything
lasting or worthwhile for the children.

Posted by: honestaction | September 21, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Test scores declined under Rhee and the achievement gap widened

DCPS ELEMENTARY TEST SCORES DOWN --
DECLINES IN READING AND MATH

under the "crappy" regime of
Hedge-Funders concubine
& Walmart family flunky
-- Michelle Rhee,
unaccountable & unqualified
'chancellor' --
(note: she's actually not legally qualified
and does not have certification to be
a district superintendent)

“The DCPS had lower math test scores
in grades 4 and 8 in 2009,
and District African-American
test scores went down”

read & view the
data = />
http://www.examiner.com/ward-5-in-washington-dc/rhee-fails-on-nation-s-report-card

-------------------------------

Posted by: honestaction | September 21, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"I don't understand why Rhee (or anyone else) spends their energy trying to build and repair schools with these types of temporary teachers."

Because there is money in it. There's Money for the teacher recruitment firms that place them (like the New Teachers Project, that Rhee used to run). There's money for the consultants who vet the new grads who enter the program, then train them on how to be a teacher in 5 weeks, and there's money for the new teachers themselves - they get a portion of their college loans forgiven and get a tuition break on their master's degree.

So it's a big win, for everyone but the kids.

Posted by: efavorite | September 21, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Why applaud Rhee who is not qualified, certified or have any Education credentials to be an expert in Education or a Chancellor.

Rhee's salary is higher than Adrian Fenty. Rhee was not held accountable for any of her actions, especially taping students' lips together, protecting a child molester who raped an 18 year old Special Education Emotional Disturb student at Shadd School, manufactured a reduction in force, disrespecting the City Council members, overhiring, overspending, mismanaging a budget, and for being a fabricator.

Now is the time for Rhee to pack her bags and move on. Maybe, Rhee will open a Charter School. Email Bill Gates for open enrollment. All stduents are welcome!!!

DCPS parents, students and stakeholders deserve a respectable, qualified, certified Superintendent with integrity.

DCPS future is about the students. It is not about Rhee's fame and national attention!!!

Enough is Enough!!!
Rhee MUST GO!!

Posted by: sheilahgill | September 21, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Blame Rhee! That will fix the DC schools and the 60% drop out rate. Here is an idea. How about DC parents turn off the TV and read to your kids, check their homework and be involved in the school and the PTA. Its called responsibility, try it instead of hiding behind the race card. Pretty funny when people who give no respect then demand it

Posted by: j751 | September 21, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

DCPSparent:

"re: Michelle Rhee's
"mom friendly" comment,
prepared specifically for the Oprah show, about
moms not tolerating
mediocre teachers being given time to
grow and develop professionally ---
Well... The unqualified, needing-to-grow-professionally
(newbie 'Teach for America') "TFA" principal that Rhee PUSHED on our school, despite protests from a panel of engaged, informed, truly progressive, professional educators
and parents with advanced degrees in education ---
(this TFA principal)
hired and protected even more inexperienced,
unqualified teachers who will take YEARS to
develop into true professionals.
But the TFA principal
and those teachers all know
how to say "yes" to their boss.
Too bad they don't know
the basics of how children learn,
or the nuances of curriculum and instruction.
It is hard, hard work indeed to have to reprogram
my kids every day after school, to get them to embrace
and understand learning again.

Rhee's influential, BAD decisions and practices,
more than ANY OTHER failure of the
DC Public School system, has me on the verge of pulling my kids out of school.
Rhee embarrassed herself mightily at the
DC screening of this film
("Waiting for Wall Street Super-scammers)" --
with her comment insulting DC voters.
My kids. and the 350 others in their school,
will not be devastated at all when she leaves.
We assume she will
head to the business world
for which she may have more
appropriate skills."

------------------

Posted by: honestaction | September 21, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

What's up with these idiots who think that ONLY Rhee can solve DCPS' problems? Just becaue people did not agree with her tactics and nasty attitude does not mean that they are not interested in improving the schools. To assume otherwise is at a minimum condescending and elitist, and possibly racist. The people of DC canned Fenty for a number of reasons and Rhee was one of them. If you don't like democracy, well maybe North Korea will welcome you with open arms.

Posted by: PepperDr | September 21, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

It didn't seem to me that a warm-hearted approach was making much progress in DC schools.

Is the purpose of DCPS to offer stress-free lifetime employment to staff, or to teach children, some who are hard to teach?

I've never met a manager who made substantial changes in an organization who didn't qualify for the "hard hearted" award. Soft-hearted managers aren't who you hire to prod sluggish orgnaizations into better preformance.


Posted by: RedBird27 | September 21, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

to RedBird27: You're wrong. Prior to becoming a DCPS teacher 8 years ago, I was the CEO of a non-profit. I took over when it was failing and on the verge of going under. I managed to change the whole staff early on. I didn't fire them. They resigned. They didn't work out for various reasons but mostly because they were unqualified or were not doing a very good job. I offered additional training to them and even offered to sit with each of them one-on-one so I could help them do their jobs better and more effectively. My secretary and I even cried together when she realized she couldn't handle the job and she volunteered to resign--even after I offered to train her myself.

I was a compassionate leader who cared about the mission of the organization but also who cared for the people who worked in the organization.

Yes, it was much smaller than DCPS with only a staff of 6 people but we served over 500 clients.

However, size of an organization does not preclude its leader from being fair and compassionate. Also, fairness and compassion aren't obstacles to change and reform either.

Rhee needs a good course in how to manage people effectively.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | September 21, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Rhee needs to put children first, rather than herself. Like all the self-styled reformers, she is all about herself.

I'm white, and I hate how Rhee treated the black community.

Posted by: educationlover54 | September 21, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for link, Turque.

Posted by: educationlover54 | September 21, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

@minhle1,Tmac09 and biff_t84

I'm not a Rhee supporter nor am I against her, in fact I kinda like her. Other than firings within the last few years, what exactly was accomplished? She did what was needed to be done in shaking up the system, but after all those firings the gap between races has increased. Have not heard a peep about test scores from ANY school (Not even from the district as a whole) For this "blacks" must be grateful?? Your whole argument (and it seems her plan) begins and ends with firings... what has been step 2?? and if she came through the door with guns ablazing and replaced those teachers everyone hates (but no one knows) with her type of person/teacher why no improvement in 3 years?? but hey, there were firings!!! all is right with the world!!!

Posted by: earlofduke1 | September 21, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Don't people remember how shabby the DC schools were for decades before Rhee...school supt. after school supt. got nothing done mainly because of the teachers union that continues to protect unqualified teachers...Just because a teacher has been in the system for 10-15yrs is no reason to reward incompetence...

With a weak school supt. it will be business as usual but don't worry, you will hear howls from whites who are moving back....

Posted by: pentagon40 | September 22, 2010 1:24 AM | Report abuse

Raising the bar, and expectations for blacks is considered cold blooded? Somebody tell Herbert the plantation gate is open, he's free to leave..

Posted by: wewintheylose | September 22, 2010 4:02 AM | Report abuse

If some of the stupid drivel people preach about what job security the government should offer were done in the private sector, then the whole country would be in shambles.

Posted by: slydell | September 22, 2010 5:00 AM | Report abuse

Lo tiene exactamente.

I'm a black resident of dc and i applaud what michelle rhee has done. Who cares if she was disrespectful to lousy teachers who weren't doing their job? The black community should be ashamed to care more about unqualified teachers holding onto a job instead of bemoaning the state of education of black children in this city. It's disgusting.

Posted by: Tmac09 | September 21, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: gmuhokie2009 | September 22, 2010 6:40 AM | Report abuse

There was a way to bring forth school reform without 'disrespecting' the very stakeholders that you will depend on to keep school improvement moving. It is a raw fact, parents don't like being disrespected, teachers don't like being disrespected, principals don't like being disrespected and the chancellor don't like being disrespected. All of these, are critical stakeholders in public school reform.

A transformational leader would have immediately recognized this and moved to sell the mission to each of them. They would have gotten each of them to see how the mission will benefit them thereby getting them to take ownership in that mission. The reform becomes systemic.

Instead, Michelle Rhee took a paternalistic polarizing stance. Wrongly believing that a take no prisoners approach to an improving, though yet still poorly performing system, would create an environment where in fighting would somehow create a threatening environment wherein fear will generate positive results.

Instead of recognizing that the new governance system of DCPS that she enjoyed over her predecessor, would make it easier for her to build those positive relationships, she took the most negative approach which alienating the stakeholders one from the other, loosing her precious support among them. Particularly among African American parents.

DCPS students deserve the best. Chancellor Rhee just isn't it. We need someone wholly qualified with education credentials and experience in urban school administration. There is not a highly performing urban school system in the nation that is led by someone without both.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | September 22, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

@earlofduke1

It wasn't just firings; she negotiating a new contract that enabled the best performing teachers to get salaries on par with doctors and lawyers. In the long run, this will attract top talent and help retain the best teachers.

I think you expressed the heart of the matter when you said:
"...but after all those firings the gap between races has increased."

DCPS should be a higher priority than a few hundred jobs held by under-performers, IMHO.

Posted by: biff_t84 | September 22, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Whoever the next one is and I hope it's a Superintendent, DEMAND an audit of the system before you step through the door. You need to know what you are really inheriting.

Posted by: candycane1 | September 22, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

candycane1--

Maybe that next one will be Robert Bobb.

Posted by: gardyloo | September 22, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

pentagon40 has it right.
Reformer after reformer came in and were defeated by the intransigence of the teachers union. Nothing got better. They opposed every single change, from merit pay, to weeding out unqualified teachers, to charter schools.

Rhee ruffled some feathers and perhaps fired a few too many. But the system was broken, and incremental fixes were easily batted down by the teachers union. The improvements in the DC public school system are tangible, and Rhee rightly ought to take credit.

Posted by: krickey7 | September 22, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

dcpsparent : ---
"re: Michelle Rhee's "mom friendly" comment, prepared specifically for the Oprah show, about moms not tolerating mediocre teachers being given time to grow and develop professionally. Well. The unqualified, needing-to-grow-professionally, TFA principal that Rhee PUSHED on our school, despite protests from a panel of engaged, informed, truly progressive, professional educators and parents with advanced degrees in education . . . (this TFA principal) hired and protected even more inexperienced, unqualified teachers who will take YEARS to develop into true professionals. But the principal and those teachers all know how to say "yes" to their boss. Too bad they don't know the basics of how children learn, or the nuances of curriculum and instruction. It is hard, hard work indeed to have to reprogram my kids every day after school, to get them to embrace and understand learning again. Rhee's influential, BAD decisions and practices, more than ANY OTHER failure of the DC Public School system, has me on the verge of pulling my kids out of school. Rhee embarrassed herself mightily at the DC screening of this film with her comment insulting DC voters. My kids, and the 350 others in their school, will not be devastated at all when she leaves. We assume she will head to the business world for which she may have more appropriate skills."

Posted by: honestaction | September 22, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

The improvements in the DC public school system are tangible, and Rhee rightly ought to take credit.

Posted by: krickey7

DC test scores, Rhee's holy grail, had been improving steadily for nearly 2 decades, until Rhee arrived, and within 2 years she had ceased to improvement and scores dropped for the first time. By all means, Rhee should take credit for halting improvement and beginning descent in DCPS.

Posted by: mcstowy | September 22, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

The main problem with Michelle Rhee is her complete lack of qualifications for the job.

Fenty chose someone in his own likeness with non-existent interpersonal and management skills, as well as woefully limited communications skills. Fenty’s choice of someone with merely three years of teaching experience demonstrates his poor judgment and lack of due diligence.

For the diehard Rhee fans I provide this analogy -- if you were a patient or a doctor at a hospital, which would you prefer to see appointed chief of surgery?

a)someone who practiced medicine (but not surgery) for three years after medical school; or
b)someone who held the requisite credentials: medical school; internship; residency; surgical rotation followed by substantive experience and success?

Well Fenty gave you option a) with Michelle Rhee. Would you not want an experienced surgeon who could perform surgery himself (or herself)? Fenty essentially hired someone who is unqualified to perform surgery to evaluate those who can.

During her three-year stint at teaching, Michelle Rhee figured out a new hustle and founded a teacher placement organization. Another medical analogy here -- a nurse or doctor who burns out and decides to parlay their medical training by starting a locum tenens agency. I specifically use that analogy because these TFA folks are strictly temporary. Many took the jobs to repay student loans or obtain forbearance on those loans.

Apparently, just like Adrian Fenty, Michelle Rhee cannot think things through for the long-term. She comes onboard and essentially uses the master education plan which was developed by her predecessor. Rhee, however, adds a twist by firing “underperforming” teachers, counselors and administrators, then replaces them with TFA neophytes.

Rhee’s “slash and burn” type of reform is highly questionable on the face of it. When you add in TFA, you have a direct conflict of interest and her motives become more suspect.

Posted by: sheridaw | September 22, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

I am very close friends with a fabulous DC public schools teacher who benefited from Rhee. Why were stories like hers never told?

Posted by: Wallenstein | September 22, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

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