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Kaya Henderson is interim D.C. schools chancellor

In picking Kaya Henderson as interim, the presumptive D.C. mayor, Vincent Gray, has selected someone completely in tune with Rhee on the fundamentals of education reform, especially the belief that teacher quality is the most important determinant of student success. She was Rhee's first appointment, named top deputy the same day Rhee was introduced to the District as its first schools chancellor. At the time, Rhee made it sound as if they came to D.C. as a package.

"I told Kaya, 'I can't do this without you.'" Rhee said at the time. "She's everything you'd want in a leader. She has an ability to motivate people. She's a critical thinker, and she's an innovative thinker."

Henderson followed Rhee from the New Teacher Project, where she served as vice president for the teacher recruiting nonprofit that Rhee founded and ran. Henderson ran the organization's D.C. operation, which had contracts with D.C. public schools to supply teachers. Prior to that Henderson worked for Teach for America--where Rhee began her educational career--teaching middle school Spanish in the South Bronx.

Henderson recounted her first impressions of D.C.'s struggling school system and her aspirations for change at a 2009 D.C. Council hearing:

"I was stunned at the lack of commitment to ensuring the highest quality educational force in the country," Henderson said "The District tolerated people and practices that other school systems would never accept. This administration has been and will continue to be incredibly aggressive in our efforts to improve the quality of our workforce because our students can't afford to wait until the adults get it together."

At an August meeting of school principals, Henderson offered a football-coach-style motivational talk, reinforcing Rhee's core message: that poverty and other conditions outside the classroom are not an excuse for poor academic achievement.

"Our responsibility is to deliver the goods, no matter what the situations our students are in. The reform is in the schoolhouse. You are here because we believe you are the right people to deliver this reform. The election is not our concern; the election is not your concern. Go hard, or go home!"

As deputy chancellor for "human capital", Henderson was a key figure in the controversial firing of 98 central office staff in 2008. She was also lead District negotiator on the marathon contract talks with the Washington Teachers' Union, which led to a labor pact that establishes classroom performance--rather than traditional seniority--as the main factor driving job security. The talks were at times deeply contentious, and teetered on collapse before the appointment of former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke as mediator. But Henderson was known to have a decent relationship with teachers' union president George Parker--a point probably not lost on Gray, whose primary campaign benefited from heavy union support.

While there is little daylight between Rhee and Henderson philosophically, her political and presentational skills might be better than those of her boss. That was the judgment of at least one senior education adviser to Gray in an interview several weeks ago about possible replacements for Rhee.

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.


--Bill Turque

By Terri Rupar  | October 12, 2010; 8:22 PM ET
 
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Comments

I was sickened when the AFT got Gray elected.

Vincent Gray, I underestimated you.

You chose someone just as insistent, if not more so than Rhee herself, that the adults drawing a paycheck simply MUST do better.

Kaya Henderson is incredibly good. She has every positive quality that Rhee has, and on top of that, she's the right color. (Let's be real - in DC, that matters.)

Ha! Candi Peterson wrote on her blog that teachers were jubilant, even going as far as dancing in the hallways, when Gray won the primary. They thought IMPACT was gone, and along with it, any sort of accountability.

My man Gray got the votes of all these disgruntled, chips-on-shoulders ne'er do wells, and then chooses a schools chancellor that doesn't give two shits about pleasing the union.

Vince, I stand corrected. You have my FULL support.

Posted by: alertcitizen1 | October 12, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Henderson follows Rhee like a lap dog. She is just as clueless as Rhee and has less credentials than Rhee.

The key here is INTERIM. Hopefully, she will follow Rhee and leave soon.

Posted by: guylady201001 | October 12, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

@alertcitizen1

Your support may be premature. Henderson is a suck up and she will not be around for long. She will soon get on her broom and follow Rhee.

PS, do you work in the central office?

Posted by: guylady201001 | October 12, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

I've worked with Ms. Henderson.
She's as good as they come.

Posted by: hawaiiandc | October 12, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Vince Gray did not disappoint. I have been advocating for him to choose someone from within and I expect that Chancellor Henderson will be in the "front running" for the permanent appointment. She is a better politician than Rhee and she will continue the reform. This is very, very good news!

Keep it coming Mayor Gray!!

Posted by: teacher6402 | October 12, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Please let her. Go soon as you find a quailfied person that doest have her head stuck in her fanny.She is. Just as bad as Rea come on Vince let's keep looking. She. Can not get it. Done. Bring Arlean Ackerman back please. She has done wonders in Philly and she. Still has a home here in the city

Posted by: Darksecrettt | October 12, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

"I was stunned at the lack of commitment to ensuring the highest quality educational force in the country," Henderson said "The District tolerated people and practices that other school systems would never accept."
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I hope all the bigots at WTU will try that quote on for size.

Bravo, Mr. Gray. Spend that political capital for the betterment of all our children!

Posted by: confounded | October 13, 2010 2:09 AM | Report abuse

Dear Rheeformers of Central Office:

Interim. Don't redefine this word in some misguided hope that the resumes and recommendations you have been compiling during your working hours downtown will not be essential to your future employment.

Definition of 'interim':
In or for the intervening period; provisional or temporary

And let us be clear ... the most important actions of the interim administrator will be a rollback of some very controversial personnel appointments and policies that will clear the deck for Mayor Gray's search for, and selection of, a new Schools Chancellor.

Mayor Gray will not want to encumber the next Schools Chancellor with cleaning up the legacy of an extremely under-qualified and misdirected central office staff whose purpose was to support Rhee's often deceptive and failed efforts to manipulate standardized test data to support unsustainable reform policy.

And, in the words of President Richard Milhous Nixon, let me make this perfectly clear... The OSSE will be reformed also, with special attention to developing appropriate measures and standards for evaluation of student achievement and teacher effectiveness. The current system is rife with unproven and misapplied statistical tools and analysis.

The tipoff will be in the title used to describe Ms. Henderson at the press conference, not as interim Chancellor, but as the interim administrator of DCPS.

Bye bye sycophants.

Posted by: AGAAIA | October 13, 2010 4:32 AM | Report abuse

@ AGAAIA

You're absolutely wrong. Read between the lines. Kaya Henderson wouldn't continue as Interim Chancellor if Gray wasn't seriously considering her for the position. Also, Gray indicated that he will not be appointing a "career superintendent" to the position...hint, hint...the days of the old and corrupt DCPS are over. Gray recognizes this and his first decision to appoint Henderson as Interim Chancellor makes it clear that he intends to continue the reform initiatives implemented by Rhee. You're in denial! Gray recognizes that his legacy will be in improving schools for kids--not for adults and the union.

Posted by: teacher6402 | October 13, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

For all you complainers...I say look at the students test scores. Rhee was wonderful for our school system. And I am hoping Ms Henderson continue what Rhee started.

Posted by: CrimeRiddenDC | October 13, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Bring back Arlene Ackerman? Come on now. Perhaps she's done well in San Fran and Philly but left DC before making any real change at DCPS. (I was a DCPS teacher during her tenure). Incremental change at best. Kaya Henderson is hardly a "Yes" (wo)man - she is tough,savvy and fiercely committed to kids. I'm hopeful for Gray's administration after a move like this one, and hope it is a sign of what the future holds.

Posted by: momofthree3 | October 13, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

MICHELLE RHEE is a
MENDACIOUS, MEGALOMANIAC FRAUD

(reference to post
by thooker65):

Read about the scam testing procedures,
described below ! ---

"My daughter participated in the D.C.
Saturday Scholar program for nearly two years.
After I found out that she was only 1 of a few students from each school that had above average skills in learning, (Talented and Gifted), were asked to participate in that program. She along with other students that processed that higher level of learning were in this class to take the test (the NAEP exam
a national assessment, deliberately administered to only a selected 'sample group' of DCPS students) --which was then manipulated to artificially bolster DCPS test score ratings, as a whole district.
So how does that make the school system
better (?!), if only this selected group of smarter kids bring up the school standings (via a clandestine process)?
After I found out what was going on, I removed my daughter from that program. I’m pretty sure that Michelle Rhee would like to take credit for the
better scores, but did anyone really look into that smoke screen of what was really going on, I can only imagine -- and when I found out about the program I felt sick to my stomach.

=========================

Posted by: newmanagement2 | October 13, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Wow, way to go Vincent. Maybe I underestimated you. Hey AFT, looks like you lose! And it won't be interim--clearly Obama and Duncan have been leaning heavily on Gray. He had to get Rhee to leave (she'll do what she did here somewhere else... watch for that announcement) but he clearly had to bring in Henderson. It looks like the combined weight of Obama, Duncan, and Winfrey were too much for Gray and the special interests. I can only imagine how sad all those fired incompetents must be right now. In the words of the bully from the Simpsons... Ha-ha!!!

Posted by: purpledog | October 13, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

MICHELLE RHEE is a
MENDACIOUS, MEGALOMANIAC FRAUD

(reference to post
by thooker65):

Read about the scam testing procedures,
described below ! ---

"My daughter participated in the D.C.
Saturday Scholar program for nearly two years.
After I found out that she was only 1 of a few students from each school that had above average skills in learning, (Talented and Gifted), were asked to participate in that program. She along with other students that processed that higher level of learning were in this class to take the test (the NAEP exam
a national assessment, deliberately administered to only a selected 'sample group' of DCPS students) --which was then manipulated to artificially bolster DCPS test score ratings, as a whole district.
So how does that make the school system
better (?!), if only this selected group of smarter kids bring up the school standings (via a clandestine process)?
After I found out what was going on, I removed my daughter from that program. I’m pretty sure that Michelle Rhee would like to take credit for the
better scores, but did anyone really look into that smoke screen of what was really going on, I can only imagine -- and when I found out about the program I felt sick to my stomach.

=========================

Posted by: newmanagement2 | October 13, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

To all the central office personnel who are celebrating Ms. Henderson temporary position do not start unpacking your boxes.

She will not last because she is Rhee in black skin. She has done just as many underhanded acts as Rhee and perhaps more. She has no respect for teachers and truly believes that teachers are useless.

Posted by: guylady201001 | October 13, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Newmanagement, I've noticed you've re-posted this story about the Saturday program.

I just wanted to provide some insight b/c I had similar concerns about it. It's an effort designed to target kids on the "cusp". These are youth who are performing just on the cusp of being Proficient or Advanced who with some extra coaching can get there. It's a controversial approach b/c it is basically focusing effort on a group of kids who are statistically most likely to improve their performance on the test with extra practice.

There's nothing scandalous about providing extra resources to kids. But, it can become disheartening when supports aren't put in place for all students. They do allow any parent to register for the program, but they only formally invite those on the cusp.

Just wanted to share some clarity on this b/c I have done a lot of digging on it.

Posted by: GetOuttaHere | October 13, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

please update your news articles
with the following fact:

Ms. Kaya Henderson completed & earned her
MASTER'S DEGREE
in 'LEADERSHIP'
from Georgetown University in the year 2007.


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

Posted by: honestpolicy | October 14, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

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