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For Rhee, staying in D.C. is a 'hard question'

Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee visited The Post newsroom today and spoke on camera with editorial writer Jo-Ann Armao about her future.

Behold the latest steps in her pas de deux with presumptive mayor-elect Vincent Gray: "I think that what the chairman and I have committed to doing jointly is to sit down and talk about our philosophies of school reform and our theories of change and action, and then at that point we'll sort of figure out what the path forward looks like so that we can set the District up for success," she said.

Jo-Ann proceeded to ask Rhee whether she'd "personally" like to stay in D.C. After a pause, Rhee called it a "hard question," which she answered as such: "What I do know is that I want school reform in the city to continue as aggressively as it possibly can. I can see a scenario in which that happens with me and I can see a scenario in which that happens without me. I think for me the question is really, how do we set this up whether I'm here or not in a way where the good work that we've done over the past three years can continue?"

Us local political wonks have been left to parse these oblique statements for months now, and there's actually quite a bit to parse. First off: If the focus of the conversations is going to be "philosophies of school reform and our theories of change and action," then that does not bode well for any sort of lasting reconciliation between get-it-done-now Rhee and let's-get-on-the-same-page Gray. Nor does the fact that Rhee appears to be "setting up" what amounts to a transition -- an exit strategy? -- "whether I'm here or not."

Also notable: Rhee was asked about her greatest accomplishments and biggest regret. In the former category, she mentioned improved efficiency in the school system's central office as well as the new teacher contract. In the latter, she said this: "We just fell down on communications, both internally with teachers, externally with the sort of broader community. I sort of naively thought if I put my head down and do the work and we produce results then everybody will be happy. ... We didn't have a really concerted proactive effort to figure out how we could be communicating all of these things out. ... If I had to do it all over again, hopefully, we'd be a lot smarter about that."

By Mike DeBonis  | October 4, 2010; 5:33 PM ET
Categories:  Michelle Rhee, The District, Vincent Gray  
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Comments

No, it's NOT a hard question.

Rhee said/implied that she would leave if Gray won the primary and she actively campaigned against him. What's more, after Gray's victory, Rhee loudly proclaimed his win was "devastating," an ugly show of disrespect and contempt. Her D.C. record is one of racial division, arrogance, and self-promotion, not Rhee-form.

Good grief: a majority of voters supported Vincent Gray so he could remove her. If Rhee is still Chancellor on November 3, it will be seen as an act of extreme betrayal by most DCers living outside Ward 3.

When will the Post, and especially Armao, who seems to have assumed -- inappropriately -- the role of Rhee's publicist and chief apologist, finally accept the results of the election and cease the daily attempts to bully Mayor Gray into retaining one of the most divisive figures in the history of DC politics: Michelle A. Rhee.

Kinda curious that, after the Washington Post said Rhee would be flooded with offers from other school systems, to date, to our knowledge not a single major school system in the country, not Montgomery County, Detroit, Newark, or anywhere else, has been reported to have expressed serious interest in Rhee's services, masking tape, racial comedy, or broom.

Again, Rhee said/implied she would leave if Gray won. Well, Gray won and so ... leave already.
__________________

Stay strong, Mayor Gray.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | October 4, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Many hope Vincent Gray will not get suckered into what will undoubtedly be Rhee/Washington Post's Plan B: persuade Mayor Gray to keep Rhee as Chancellor until her replacement can be appointed. Then Post and the Rhee-bots will likely aggressively oppose any person Gray considers so GRAY's person never gets installed as Chancellor, resulting in ... more Michelle A. Rhee-form forever. LOL.

And more masking tape.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | October 4, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Michelle Rhee needs to resign to allow her work to continue and a qualified Superintendent search can take place. It's hard to put your best foot forward when theirs so much division. I agree with (broadwayjoe) too much has happen to turn back.

Posted by: drfields | October 4, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Notice that Rhee's regret is not enough communicating *to* teachers. She doesn't regret not heeding teachers or not trusting teachers or not empowering teachers.

(BTW, I'm neither a teacher nor a union member. However, I believe that teachers in the classroom are our biggest assets in improving public education. It would be a shame to disregard those assets.)

Posted by: imback | October 5, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Jo-Ann Armao is a paid shill of the privatized education industry. Her employer makes most of its profit from snaring local and federal government education grants to the tune of billions per year. The Post should make clear when its writers have a business interest in the topic at hand.


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

Posted by: newmanagement2 | October 5, 2010 7:27 AM | Report abuse

RESEARCH Michelle Rhee’s ongoing
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST machinations, financial gaming the system, and legal violations — in Washington, DC and also in Sacramento.
Did you know that every time she brings in a new inexperienced, unqualified “Teach for America” intern that she pays her ex-husband’s organization (he’s the “TFA” Communications Director) a fee of several thousand dollars for each recruit — which goes toward his salary and he then repays back to her as child support ! — that’s self-dealing. ======= Investigate the rattling skeletons in both Michelle Rhee’s and Kevin Johnson’s closets, while they’ve been protected from consequences by their big-money financier and corporate backers (including — deliberate prevarication, budgetary machinations & financial scandals (including misappropriation of over $400,000 in federal grants), sexual misconduct with students (teen minors)
and staff subordinates, cover-ups and ‘hush money’ deals
behind-the-scenes).
——————————————
Must-read important
news article:
http://www.sacbee.com/2009/11/20/2338165/kevin-johnsons-accuser-says-he.html


See website:
http://sacchartergate.blogspot.com/

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

Posted by: newmanagement2 | October 5, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

a concerned DCPS parent :

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 (”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: newmanagement2 | October 5, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Rhee created chaos in the DCPS workforce, with widespread teacher and principal firings. Michelle Rhee fired experienced qualified teachers and principals. She brought in inexperienced TFA’s (teachers who had 5 weeks of training) and placed rookie New Leaders principals (1 year of training) both had no experienced in the DCPS. For the record, Rhee was never certified as a teacher or met the criteria for a principal’s job.

This year test scores indicated only 8 out of 87 elementary schools met the national targets and 2 out of 34 middle and high schools met their targets. She also over-emphasized standardized student testing and scores and failed to understand the importance of community. She installed a culture of fear with everybody from the principals down to the teachers and our community.

She copied the “Impact teacher evaluation and installed a “subjective” teacher evaluation rubric, under her IMPACT program. It did not emphasize teacher and principal training and curriculum development. She over spent this year’s budget by 35 million and said the statement from the CFO was premature.

Finally, I’m sure Montgomery County Public schools, Atlanta Public Schools, New Jersey public schools and the PG School System would not consider Rhee for their vacant supt’s position. Michelle is not “school reform” she is “incompetent” and inexperienced!

Posted by: hello101 | October 5, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

imback wrote: "Notice that Rhee's regret is not enough communicating *to* teachers. She doesn't regret not heeding teachers or not trusting teachers or not empowering teachers.

(BTW, I'm neither a teacher nor a union member. However, I believe that teachers in the classroom are our biggest assets in improving public education. It would be a shame to disregard those assets.)"
-----------------------------------------
Rhee was thoughtful and sensible with her statements. She felt, accurately, the main problems that plagued the DCPS involved mismanagement and poorly performing personnel (teachers).

imback believes that teachers are the biggest assets to the DCPS when in fact they were/are their second largest liabilities as well.

The biggest liability to the DCPS is unquestionably the Teachers Union.

Posted by: bryanmcoleman | October 5, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Wow! Some folk have given up pot and getting even higher on Ms. Rhee...No need for anyone to worry about her getting another job. She needs now, to put herself, her children and her relationship first!
Going ahead is difficult...going back is easy. Rehire teachers and principals...ask the best teachers who retired to come back and mentor the new kids until they can be fired...change the WTU contract to make the Union happy...kids will be ok...kids have put up with a lot in this system and many Ward 3 parents have been home schooling and public schooling for years..so they don't have to worry!

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | October 5, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

it is true that many of the teachers who were fired DESERVED to be fired!

Posted by: FormerUpstater | October 5, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

We expect our accountants and our doctors to keep up with new and best practices...why do we not expect our teachers to read, study, attend classes on their own...there are plenty of days in our DCPS system for teacher education (the students stay home) teachers are expected to continue their own education in many school systems...why not ours?

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | October 5, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Will ELI BROAD (the Southern Calif. real estate mogul
& rhee-form oligarch, otherwise known as
Sugar Daddy Warbucks) please clean up after your
crews' deep dippity-do & stinking pile of hypocrisy!
Will ELI BROAD & cronies
please arrange (ASAP !)
a consulting gig for his
political concubine & broom-humping pet
rabid MICHELLE RHEE ---

if she's got too many skeletons rattling
in the closet (along with Kevin Johnson,
including financial misappropriation scandals,
cover-up of sexual misconduct with
minor students & teenage staff,
and a range of federal /state /city
illegalities & violations) --
and if no other school district
will hire Chancellor Queen Rhee
(because she's not qualified to actually
be a school-district superintendent)
--- it's not the DC voters' problem !!!

There are excellent, experienced,
qualified candidates who are ready
to replace her and ready to implement
strategic, viable improvements.

Rhee-move her !


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

Posted by: newmanagement2 | October 5, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully, Michelle Rhee will fire 1500 substandard teachers before she heads out the door. DCPS needs a through cleaning, and she is the only pubic official who cares enough about children to do the right things, for the right reasons. DC is mightily regret her departure; children will suffer, teachers unions will go hog-at-the-trough crazy again. Same old story.....

Posted by: dheller11 | October 5, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully, Michelle Rhee will fire 1500 substandard teachers before she heads out the door. DCPS needs a through cleaning, and she is the only pubic official who cares enough about children to do the right things, for the right reasons. DC will mightily regret her departure; children will suffer, teachers unions will go hog-at-the-trough crazy again. Same old story.....

Posted by: dheller11 | October 5, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

we produce results then everybody will be happy

Well, she didn't produce results.
Look at Hardy MS.

Posted by: edlharris | October 5, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

The opposition to Rhee on this forum is ignorant. Just because someone is divisive(obviously she is) does not mean they are bad.

Michelle Rhee is amazing at her job. She has managed to make substantial gains in the face of monumental opposition (something not one of previous 7 successors has accomplished).

She's closed 23 schools under enrolled schools, slashed her central office staff, pumped $200 million into school modernization, quadrupled spending on teacher training, and replaced about half of her school principals.

Half of elementary school students now test at grade level in reading and math. When Rhee took office in 2007, less than a third passed the test in math. The list goes on and on and on. She did this all in TWO YEARS. Imagine what she could do if we gave her half a decade.

Its perfectly reasonable to say you disagree with her methods (combating the overpowered WTU, firing ineffective teachers and principals) but you simply can't argue with her results.

I graduated from a DC Public Schools in 2007 and went on to Cornell(Rhee's alma matter). I can tell you first hand that one of the biggest reasons DC schools suck is that a lot of the teachers suck. They're old, unmotivated, and they don't know their subject matter well enough. It took me 13 years of DCPS schooling to figure that out. It took Rhee a couple of weeks. She smart and capable. Its going to be a travesty when she gets pushed out. The WTU is going to rejoice while DC student suffer.

Posted by: jps289 | October 5, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

LOL at some of you posters demanding results and accountability from Rhee. You lived with a failing system for decades, whether as parents, administrators or parents, YOU contributed to the failures of DCPS before Rhee. You are the problem and Rhee was the perfect lightening rod to divert away that responsibility.

I am throughly amazed that so many people can talk out of both sides of their mouths, what do you really know about standards and improvements to be critical? You don't because you allowed for one of the WORST school systems to continue on at the same low standards for years.

Posted by: minhle1 | October 5, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

The opposition to Rhee on this forum is ignorant. Just because someone is divisive(obviously she is) does not mean they are bad.

Michelle Rhee is amazing at her job. She has managed to make substantial gains in the face of monumental opposition (something not one of previous 7 successors has accomplished).

Half of elementary school students now test at grade level in reading and math. When Rhee took office in 2007, less than a third passed the test in math. The list goes on and on and on. She did this all in TWO YEARS. Imagine what she could do if we gave her half a decade.

Its perfectly reasonable to say you disagree with her methods (combating the overpowered WTU, firing ineffective teachers and principals) but you simply can't argue with her results.

I can tell you first hand that one of the biggest reasons DC schools suck is that a lot of the teachers suck. They're old, unmotivated, and they don't know their subject matter well enough. It took me 13 years of DCPS schooling to figure that out. It took Rhee a couple of weeks. She smart and capable. Its going to be a travesty when she gets pushed out. The WTU is going to rejoice while DC student suffer.
===

And speaking of ignorance.

So being divisive is a "good" thing? Since when and where is the blueprint for that sort of nonsense? Do you know why the others haven't seen the gains that Rhee has? Well prior to her, no other super had complete control over the schools. The structure was entirely different. The School Board no longer runs the schools and approves the budget.

But I'm sure you didn't know that.

I encourage you to check Dr. Janey's master education plan and then revisit your conclusion on "Rhee's" success. She even admitted that she would build upon Janey's efforts in her school reform plans and that's what she did.

But of course, you think the was able plan, approve, implement, and succeed within two years.

I take it that your parents sent you to school so that the teachers could educate you instead of your parents hunh? but you did graduate out of DCPS and accepted into Cornell even though DCPS was bad. Geez! How did that happen. you mean to tell me tht the lazy, unprepared teachers didn't prevent you from an education?

Posted by: dcis1 | October 5, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I agree with jps289. They were a lot of unqualified people teaching children in DCPS, and Rhee instituted a system of accountability that, if maintained, could have incredibly positive outcomes for students. Student achievement is tied to principal leadership, quality teaching and hard work, all of which Ms. Rhee implemented in her reform efforts. I think if Washington DC is smart, they will encourage Ms. Rhee to stay and proceed with their upward climb of success.

Posted by: mimicarter01 | October 5, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Some of you posting about Rhee having great success don't know what you're talking about, but I see some of the same names from thread to thread cheerleading for Rhee even after someone presents you with numbers to prove that this woman has had no great success.

Just one of you tell me why only 12 schools passed AYP? Down from 50-something the previous year.

Posted by: DC_Original | October 5, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

The standards for the AYP were changed for 2010 according several reports and articles. The scoring system was changed with the long-term goal of 100% profiency by 2014. this was the cause for some schools not meeting the AYP.

With that said, there is plenty to improve upon...you don't go from one of the worst systems to being good overnight.

What i find funny is that these critics of Rhee are the only ones who know the truth...they're the only ones who understand the reports and progress or lack thereof. all these news and media outlets, these organizations that rely on due diligence are all fooled. Only the folks who helped make DCPS terrible in the first place know how to fix it...how's that for irony.

Here's a link to an article that addresses the progress as observed by a law firm researching the matter. I'm sure they know less than some folks here, but what the heck. If someone can link the report the article cites, that would be great.

Posted by: minhle1 | October 5, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

sorry here's the link

http://legaltimes.typepad.com/blt/2010/08/washington-lawyers-committee-dc-public-schools-making-substantial-improvements.html

Posted by: minhle1 | October 5, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Just go. Elections are supposed to mean something and you were on the wrong team. In fact, your nasty attitude was one of the main reasons your team lost!!

Posted by: PepperDr | October 5, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Rhee does not regret working hard to try to get rid of employees who were not helping children.

Nor should she!

Posted by: fredcorgi1 | October 5, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Michelle how did you get the RACE FOR THE TOP MONEY? CHEATERS NEVER WIN!

Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.

Posted by: grezeldadyson | October 5, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Rhee is going to leave. Her husband to be is on the west coast and she has no loyalty to Mr. Old School Gray. The shake up that Fenty and Rhee did for the public schools in DC will evaporate into history. Everything is going to go back to SOS. Just watch.

Posted by: Burkeo | October 5, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Rhee is going to leave. Her husband to be is on the west coast and she has no loyalty to Mr. Old School Gray. The shake up that Fenty and Rhee did for the public schools in DC will evaporate into history. Everything is going to go back to SOS. Just watch.

Posted by: Burkeo | October 5, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

DC remains a "it's ok to for black's to be racist to asains" and that is a sad statement.

Need to get over that chip-on-your-shoulder and recognize superior intelligence and keep the most qualified talent to pull your kids from the swamp of ignorance.

Stay Strong, indeed.

Posted by: craiglivingstone1690 | October 5, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Can we get beyond the simplistic notion that progress depends on a single chief? This is ludicrous. Few can name the head of Johnson & Johnson, Dupont or other leading industry, yet these trusted enterprises change, adapt and succeed. Let's not hold education hostage to the same cult of personality that vaulted a few fascists into office and made the trains run on time.

Posted by: BlackSwan1 | October 6, 2010 12:08 AM | Report abuse

minhle, please remove ANY progress initiated under Janey/Williams/City Council ....THEN tell me what Rhee has done.

5 years is before Rhee.

"The D.C. Public School Schools have shown “real and substantial” improvements during the past five years, but D.C. has “a long way to go” to be on par with surrounding school districts."

Posted by: DC_Original | October 6, 2010 1:25 AM | Report abuse

Get rid of Teacher union (fee collectors) and put in place of accountability just like the private sector then I am sure the teachers will do good job of teaching.

Posted by: drkly | October 7, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

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