Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

E-mail Bill | RSS Feed | In-depth coverage: Education Page | Follow The Post's education coverage: Twitter | Facebook

Rhee: D.C. education reform can survive without me

The last time Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee appeared in public with AFT President Randi Weingarten and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, she declared the results of the D.C. Democratic mayoral primary -- which unseated her boss, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty -- "devastating" for the city's schoolchildren. (She said later that she didn't really mean that D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, the victor, would be devastating, just the potential message it might send about the future of education reform).

This morning on "Meet the Press," she said the deluge won't necessarily follow after her.

"Education reform can continue in D.C. whether I'm there or not," Rhee said, provided that elected political leadership steps up to the plate to support tough policy decisions. This came after host David Gregory asked whether she would be willing to stay on as chancellor under presumptive mayor-elect Gray. Still no news here.

"I think that's something we still have to determine," said Rhee, who met with Gray on Thursday and is expected to do so again in a couple of weeks. Still, she continued to sound less like the leader of the D.C. schools and more like a national standard-bearer for school improvement.

"What we need quite frankly is a national movement around this," she said, referring to the new surge of money and interest around education reform.

Local politics swirled around the discussion, which kicked off NBC's two-day "Education Nation" summit. Duncan, who said this week that he regarded Gray as committed to continuing school improvement in D.C., lionized Fenty, saying that when the history of school reform in the city is written, he will be a major figure.

"He can walk out with his head held high," Duncan said.

Also notable was the presence of Robert Bobb, former D.C. board of education president and now emergency financial czar of the Detroit school system, a temporary appointment that will end early next year. His name has surfaced in the early speculation over possible Rhee successors. One wishes Gregory had asked if he was interested. An intriguing glimmer came when Gregory asked how Fenty and Rhee might have pursued aggressive reforms without being consumed by the political fallout.

"You have to be able to communicate these issues," Bobb said. Critics of Fenty and Rhee say they never told their story effectively.

Rhee, Duncan and Weingarten are quickly becoming the Traveling Wilburys of education reform. In the past month, they've also done the ABC Sunday morning show with Christiane Amanpour and a post-screening panel at a Newseum premiere of "Waiting for Superman," where Rhee predicted the apocalypse.

Duncan tends to the big-picture talking points: Investment in the status quo is over, education is the path to a stronger economy, etc. Rhee and Weingarten, who clearly can't stand each other, ping back and forth about the best way to remove ineffective teachers. Weingarten said she's all for getting rid of bad teachers, but that it has to be tempered with more of a commitment to develop educators professionally. And she is not happy with the way it's gone in the District, where the tough new IMPACT evaluation system as launched without union signoff (as Rhee was allowed to do by law). She would not directly answer Gregory when he asked if she considered the new Colorado law that she supported -- one that toughens teacher tenure regulations by tying them to evaluations -- a national model.

Rhee, for her part, complains about getting sued by the union when she actually does remove teachers. In fact, the only pending union lawsuit involves pursuit of details about the financial basis for the October 2009 layoffs, which Rhee said were based on a budget crunch. Today she mentioned getting "slapped with a huge class-action grievance," a non-judicial procedure being pursued by the Washington Teachers Union. The contract approved by teachers in June bars them from legally contesting poor evaluations. The appraisals can only be challenged if there is evidence that proper procedures weren't followed.

Follow D.C. Schools Insider every day at schools. And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our new Higher Education page at Bookmark it!

By Bill Turque  | September 26, 2010; 2:23 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Gray and Rhee finally meet
Next: What Obama said about DC schools


Transcript here:

Words of wisdom from the Chanchellor:
"You know, in terms of the teacher accountability, yes, we've been--we've held a very, very high bar. We've said it's no longer going to be acceptable for teachers who are ineffective to stay in the classroom. And, you know, we've gotten a tremendous amount of pushback about that. And I think--I mean, you said we were going to talk about the election. But if you talk about the mayor's election, a lot of what you heard from citizens was, "Well, they fire teachers." And what you, unfortunately, didn't hear about that was we didn't fire teachers to be mean, because were callous or didn't care. We wanted to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom simply because we think our children deserve better."

"We wanted to remove ineffective teachers."
Maybe's that's why the rapist wasn't removed right away.

Posted by: edlharris | September 26, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I see the reformers are still trying to boost Rhee. She looked and sounded pathetic on this morning show. Her ballon has deflated. She is still polishing her fake resume with the help of the media.

Duncan is a fool and has no idea to solve the problems facing public schools. He lies about the RTTT and everyone knows that DC would be awarded money just in time to lend support to Fenty. Obama needs to send this fake back to Chicago along with Oprah.

Rhee as always fall back on lies she has told for years and media fail to fact check.

Randi is sad.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | September 26, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Arne better watch out for Rhee, the way Obama seemed to learn to watch out for Fenty.

There is something wrong with/about both of those guys.

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

(reference: “knowyourfacts”)

The DCPS decline in test scores
in elementary schools (Reading and Math)
now reflect 2007 levels.
In actuality the drop was 4 points of proficiency.
These drops in elementary reading and math represent an overall drop of 9-10% fewer elementary children
scoring proficient compared to last year.

One of the realities of Rhee’s brand of reform leadership is that our youngest children are not being taught well .
See here =>

If the reforms were having an impact one would expect
that the third graders who entered the school system when Rhee did 3 years ago,
and are taking the DC CAS
tests for the first time, would have shown great promise now. Unfortunately the opposite is true;
the test scores show declining
proficiency rates.

The most difficult thing about being
a parent of a child in DCPS is the
huge lack of analysis in the
mainstream media and the general spread
of misinformation about the nature of
educational gains (or lack there of).
We have a lot to learn from our third graders and owe them a qualified educational leader who can truly enable them to have high-quality learning experiences.

Unfortunately for DC teachers, the greatest beneficiaries of Rhee’s lack of real educational leadership have been the charters — because people have flocked to them for cover as Rhee closed 20 some schools. But perhaps as a teacher you and your colleagues at the charter should ask yourself why isn’t the quality of the schools good enough. Why aren’t all children everywhere being provided with the curriculum rich learning experiences you benefited from at the private school?
What needs to happen next to ensure that goal?

I assure you it is not it has nothing to do with the desperation and other articulate passions expressed by people like Rhee.
It has to do with getting to the hard work of providing children with significantly enhanced academically rigorous curriculum
and learning experiences — including
their families in the process.
Passion (and broom-mongering) aside,
Rhee really didn’t bring it –
nor was she headed in that general direction in my view.

I have heard Gray speak on the educational issue and he has stated that he will move forward with reforms just not with the expansion of testing as Rhee planned. Hopefully that will mean that our children are getting higher quality instruction here in DC, rather than Rhee’s’
‘teaching to the test’ approach which has hijacked meaningful, viable
real education.


Posted by: tellthetruth10 | September 26, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Gray is wholey bought and paid for the WTU. They are hold ing the receipt for 1 million in donations to defeat meaningful reform. If you think that they don't intend to collect you are dreaming and foolishing dreaming at that.

Gray knows that he can't piss off the union and the black middle class who feel blacks are entitled to teaching jobs no matter the result. He will offer position papers and speeches but will be incapable of doing anthing that will possibly offend the union. The union would protect the right of Freddie Kruger to be a teacher.

Result? Back to the "disgraceful" (Sec. Duncan today on Meet the Press) DCPS.

By the way the Race to the Top funds just awarded due to Fenty and Rhee are hanging in the balance. That is 75 mil, plus the private money that flooded into the district to back Rhee. Gray is in quite a spot.

The man actually is not a leader. He wants to be liked by everyone and you can't achieve change with that mindset.

Posted by: getreal17 | September 26, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

There's no question the Business Roundtable, the bankers, the hedge fund managers, and the oligarchs (like their freshest new "facebook" Jeff Zuckerberg) will keep hammering away at the public schools and Social Security and Medicare and government itself. There's just too much money at stake and they need that money too badly.

But Michelle Rhee is damaged goods and will not be invited to Newark or any other urban public school system. Why you ask?

Well we all knew that the story Jay Mathews made up about test scores in Rhee's Baltimore classroom was a crock. But it took Rhee herself to reveal that she is a racist abuser of Black children, which she did a few weeks ago in her presentation to the DCPS' new hires.

Black parents in Newark are like Black parents in DC who voted 4-1 to end the nightmare of Michelle Rhee. They love their children and want the best education possible for them.

Rhee is history!

Posted by: natturner | September 26, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I do agree with Rhee that many people want to improve the schools. Let's hope with Gray and a qualified school superintendent we'll see:

an end to placing the least experienced teachers in the most challenging schools;

excellent preschools for the most disadvantaged children;

help for struggling teachers;

fair evaluation for all teachers;

classroom supports for disruptive children.

Good luck, Mr. Gray. It's about time DC schools got real help.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | September 26, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Why did State Superintendent Briggs leave with a one day notice? Was there fraud by DCPS in obtaining the RACE TO THE TOP grant?

The test scores dropped 4.5% in the elementary schools this year. Special Education stats were flawed. How did DCPS win the money? There should be a federal investigation.

Posted by: grezeldadyson | September 26, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse


You should get real and stop with the BULL that you Rheeformers and union haters are plugging. Please get a new line. This one is truly out dated.

If you live in DC, which I doubt, get on board or MOVE.

Posted by: guylady201001 | September 26, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I copied this from blog and it's speaks to Arnie Duncan marginalizing the voice of DC's African American voters:

"The Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan, wants Vince Gray– who African Americans overwhelmingly voted for in DC’s 2010 mayoral primary– to denounce the electorate that disapproves of Rhee and her divisive approach to implementing school reform in D.C.

Duncan recently told Newsweek that he will talk with Gray about keeping Rhee. Newsweek reported, “Duncan has some influence with Gray, since the federal department recently announced that D.C. was one of the winners of the national Race to the Top school-reform competition, and stands to win $75 million if it implements the reforms Rhee’s administration outlined in its application.”

How dare he attempt to regress this country to the pre-civil rights era when government sanctioned policies “masking taped” the mouths of African Americans and silenced their voice. The will of the people was expressed at the polls on September 14, 2010. It is sovereign, inalienable and even the highest ranking government officials are required to respect it. A presidential appointment doesn’t endow Arnie Duncan with the authority to disregard the democratic process and superimpose his personal wants over the will of U.S. citizens.

To express your concerns regarding Arnie Duncan marginalizing D.C. voters; please contact the White House Office of Public Engagement at 202-456-1111 or via email at "

I don't know how much good it will do contacting the White House, but I gave it try. Let's see come Nov 4th, if the “will of the majority” will prevail over Duncan, Oprah and the minute minority that does not send their children to DCPS.

Posted by: GoldCoast | September 26, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse


I don't get your point about the child molester.

Posted by: educationlover54 | September 26, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse


I wonder if Bill Gates pressured Duncan to pressure Gray to retain Rhee.

Posted by: educationlover54 | September 26, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Duncan, Rhee, Gates and the other "so-called" reformers are going to chase teachers out of education.

Posted by: educationlover54 | September 26, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I do not believe that Gray will cave to Duncan. Duncan just proved my point that the RTTT money is tainted and was a ploy to influence the DC mayoral race.

Duncan, Oprah, Gates, Newsweek and Obama if he approves of this attempted blackmail should stay out of DC politics.

Last time I looked none of these folks have kids in public schools.

Posted by: guylady201001 | September 26, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

The gargoyles won.

Those most hideous protectors of the troughs of corruption so carefully
constructed in our society.

They make up the mob-like networks that use students as their props to maintain their gravy train.

God forbid, someone might actually try to ensure that our children have the excellent educational opportunities they deserve, because this might interfere with job security for teachers or disrupt the illegal drug distribution networks in our schools.

A principal who challenged this in DC, lost his life earlier this year.

And the gargoyles won again.

Its not that there aren't many outstanding teachers in our schools, but with so many gargoyles, schools rising to meet twenty-first century challenges, is just unlikely.

Posted by: inojk | September 26, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

The rapist comment was part of a point I meant to make, namely, the teacher who had sex with a student (and from little I've read, rape might be the better turn) wasn't disciplined by DCPS nor removed until the budget induced RIF.
And then he was used to slander the other teachers who were RIFed.

(I could be wrong on the details. If so, please remind me.)

Posted by: edlharris | September 26, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

While I don't doubt that any big city has a few teachers who have given up, my question is, why not fire them quietly and praise the rest of your staff who is working hard to help kids?

Furthermore, for awhile there the criteria for firing the teachers was not clear, then there was bragging and the broom thing. So, why now are we hearing how nice they are and that it was just a communication problem? I think they thought it was politically advantageous to fire big numbers of teachers and they did. I thought they communicated quite well the general disdain for anyone working in the classroom. I kept reading comments like "collaboration is overrated" and something about not caring how other people feel. Not exactly a role model.

Posted by: celestun100 | September 26, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

If looks could kill, the glare that Rhee shot to AFT president Weingarten whenever she spoke, would result in first degree murder. Rhee really needs to get over herself and go away with that nasty attitude.

Posted by: PepperDr | September 26, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Considering the Wapo editorial board is lobbying Vince Gray for jobs for Rhee's staff, it seems pretty certain that Rhee is not staying, nor is she going to another superintendent job where her hotshot staff could join her.

I suspect this whole waiting game is about trying to get her staff placed before she blows town.

Suddenly looking after adult interests is more important than attending to children's interests.

Posted by: efavorite | September 26, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Linda/Retired Teacher
Thank you for the calm sensible statements that you make. To everyone else can we dial down the histrionics. We are are in the middle of a historic time. Where we go from here will be affected by the substance, tone, and tenor of the debate.

Posted by: 4therecord | September 26, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Bill Turque continues the Washington Post staff writers' tradition of imprecise wording when characterizing Rhee.

Turque describes Rhee as acting "like a national standard-bearer for school improvement".

A more precise way to frame the thought would be, "a national standard bearer for the Washington Post Corporation's business plan of diverting public education funds to its hidden Kaplan K12 financial subsidiaries."

Turque was also needlessly vague in the phrase, "the new surge of money and interest around education reform."

The surge of money isn't directed "around" education reform, of course, but THROUGH education reform, and straight to the Post Corporation's profit line.

Rhee sees we need a national movement to further the Post's bullet-proof scam to capture profits from the public per-pupil funds for phantom students, who "never even walk through the door".

Posted by: mport84 | September 26, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Hon. Scott D. Shellenberger
State's Attorney
Baltimore County, Maryland

Dear Scott D. Shellenberger:

The statute of limitations may well have expired in this matter but I feel it is a matter of conscience that this be reported to your office.

Sometime between the year 1992 and 1995, a teacher at Baltimore's Harlem Park Elementary named Michelle A. Rhee, placed masking tape over the mouths of students in her charge in order to quiet them. She herself reported that several of the children cried and were bloodied when the tape was removed.

Recently Ms. Rhee, who now serves as the Chancellor of the Washington, D.C. Public Schools, made a stunning public confession of her abuse of the children, albeit nearly two decades after the fact. This is conjecture on my part but possibly Ms. Rhee is aware of the statute of limitations in a crime of this nature. Or that because these were Black children living in poverty, Ms. Rhee feels they could be abused with impunity and the whole thing could be made into a joke.

Ms. Rhee testified to this before an audience of hundreds of people who will serve as teachers in the District's public schools. Have you been contacted by any of them? Many inexplicably laughed at Ms. Rhee's cruelty.

The following link to a Washington Post audio recording of Ms. Rhee's confession is offered as potential evidence at trial.

Yours truly,

Posted by: natturner | September 26, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Michelle Rhee is a disgrace.

She is an autocrat who does not respect the will of the majority. Look at her demeanor at the press conference with Mayor-elect Gray. SHE LEFT BEFORE IT WAS OVER!!

And as you so aptly put it, she showed more disdain for the people of D.C. on NBC Meet the Press.


Posted by: Nicnamibia | September 26, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Fenty never held Rhee accountable for any of her actions and the DC Voters will hold Gray accountable to provide a certified Superintendent for all DCPS students.

If educators are going to be held accountable for their actions, Rhee needs to be held accountable for mismanagement of numerous budgets, test scores to decline SY 09-10, overhiring new employees, wrongfully firing educators and protecting a child molester at Shadd School who raped a female student SY 08-09.

The real important issue is that DCPS will be able to move forward without Michelle Rhee under a Vincent Gray administration.

It is devasting to support an ineffective School Chancellor. All Chancellors are not the same, there are "Good" Chancellors and "Bad" Chancellors. No one wants a lousy Chancellor!!! This is not the right thing for kids!!

Posted by: sheilahgill | September 26, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse


It is devastating to support an ineffective School Chancellor.

Posted by: sheilahgill | September 26, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse


It is devastating to support an ineffective School Chancellor.

Posted by: sheilahgill | September 26, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

After watching meet the press and hearing. That Foolishness and most of all seeing David Pinder in the audience . Is a job that important that he has to follow Michell Rea never the less drive her up to New York now we can see how he was able to keep his job after John Davis fired him not once but TWICE dam Pinder get your head out of her Rear end . Buddy a change has come get your resume ready along with a lot of others in 1200 First st start listening to Sam Cooke A Change is Gonna Come we told you all God doesn't like ugly and he's not fond of the pretty it's a new day in time Gray let her go and please please have David Pinder Escorted out by MPD

Posted by: Darksecrettt | September 27, 2010 2:09 AM | Report abuse

The anti-reform crowd is just upset that "veteran" Black teachers have been fired for incompetence and have been replaced with young TFA kids, who tend to be whiter. Moreover, Gray's supporters care more about protecting their own hides than the education of DCPS kids. No one is entitled to a job! I have actually read comments in these blogs expressing anger at Fenty for surrounding himself with non-Blacks, like Rhee and the Police Chief.

Finally, the AFT poured money into the election because they were afraid that Rhee's reforms might actually work; God forbid that poor-performing teachers are held accountable and bad schools are closed. We wouldn't want more successful charters, now, would we?

Posted by: biff_t84 | September 27, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Rhee did whatever she wanted for her three plus years here. Fenty never managed her and that is part of the reason that he is on his way out. The Mayor must hire competent people but he must also manage them since in the end he will get the credit or the blame. Fenty's arrogance coupled with his teflon attitude lost him the respect of the majority of the citizens on DC.

Posted by: oakiedokie1 | September 27, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Bill Turque has been irresponsibly biased for months on this topic. I hope Gray finds a way to keep Rhee on. While there are a lot of people that think she's not nice, it actually doesn't matter since they don't have to interact with her. I don't care if the mayor or the president or whomever is mean as nails, I just want someone to get the job done.

I am glad Rhee has made many needed school closings and gotten the building quality to a higher level. Textbook distribution, student tracking, and not paying dead people have all improved. She really sliced down the number of administrative staff, and gotten the system to reward performance in addition to age. It is nonsensical for teachers to have tenure and be paid strictly on the basis of how long they have worked. I don't think firing is often the right answer, but there are a lot of teachers that need to improve and not just have a guaranteed raise plan.

Really though, we need Obama to continue his recent line of thought and emphasize that we need a cultural change to improve the dedication of students. We need parents to let their kids know how much they care, like Obama's mom spent all of that time with him at 4AM before work every day while they were in Indonesia. It doesn't have to be that though, just make a sacrifice for your kids' education. It's really a cultural change that has to occur for parents and kids to see a value in education, and act upon it.

The race-obsessed amongst us complain about the achievement gap, but never look at the homework gap. When you have kids that aren't working, they aren't going to learn. When you use the egregiously idiotic blended-ability classrooms, you make the weaker teachers stuggle to teach kids at a wide variety of grade levels- with kids reading at a first grade and fifth grade level in the same class. Social promotion is devastating to a kid who needs a strong background in a building subject, like mathematics.

Even Rhee doesn't have the courage to blame the parents and the lazy kids, but the evidence that shows those who work get ahead is there. Kids that don't speak English arrive here at the age of 9, with non-college-degreed parents, and are in the advanced classes two years later, getting straight As. How do they do it? They spend about three hours per night studying, and are happy about it because in Korea or wherever they would have to study five hours to get an A.

Motivation is key. If you can get away with less than an A, you will. Parents need to lean on kids to make them work, but they have to prove how much they care as well. Maybe this means moving to a smaller, older apartment in a better school district. Maybe it means taking a second job to hire a tutor since you can't help your kid learn French or Pre-Calc. Just do something. Make it matter to them. Motivate.

Instead, parents show up for basketball games and sporting events. Cancel them until every kid in the school can read Shakespeare.

Posted by: staticvars | September 27, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Darksecrettt, didn't rumour have it that Pinder was heading off to Chicago but turned down the job? The firing of white male principals at the high-school level by the white instructional superintendent would not be too good amongst those in Caucasia. As you see white on white crime does have its drawback. Let's take roll call for a minute Wilson has Cahall, McKinley has Pinder, SWW has Trogich and Woodson had their white principal. So in essence if Pinder would have bitten the bullet that would have had diluted the percentage of white males at the high-school level. We can't have that or can we? Considering the DCPS principals just got their back pay...maybe this was just coincidental and most deserving vacation. Chuckle!!!

Posted by: PowerandPride | September 27, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Remove ineffective teachers?
How about seeing that effective teachers in place full time for those students in DCPS who STILL do not have permanent, full-time qualified teachers for some of their classes, and are tended by baby-sitters.

How about it Turque? Find out about the prevalence of this neglect. I'll bet that no principal would leave a sympathetically chronically ill teacher in charge of a class one of the Chancellor's children was enrolled in.

Posted by: incredulous | September 27, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

"Gray is wholey bought and paid for the WTU. They are hold ing the receipt for 1 million in donations to defeat meaningful reform. If you think that they don't intend to collect you are dreaming and foolishing dreaming at that."

Posted by: getreal17
And Rhee and Fenty were bought and paid for by Wal-Mart and the Post's Kaplan Diploma mills and test-prep rip-off to0 the tune of $5 million in outside money. The corruption was obvious. Rhee, and the phony "reformers" have no interest in improving urban schools, and if they did, they don't have the intelligence to understand the research as to how to do it. The phony "reformers" only goal was to steal education funding from poor kids and put it in their own pockets. Given the choice, I'll take the union.

Posted by: mcstowy | September 28, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse


Let's can either side with the opinions of Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Oprah, Geoffrey Canada, etc OR with the same DC voters who elected Marion Barry to the council.

Maybe you're the one that lacks the understanding.

Posted by: biff_t84 | September 28, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company