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Posted at 10:02 PM ET, 09/22/2010

What would the D.C. schools be like without Rhee?

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Peter A. Byrd
Falls Church

As a resident of Northern Virginia for 30 years, and as someone who focuses a lot of attention to and does volunteer work on behalf of public education, I have long lamented that the D.C. public schools never seemed to get better over the years — at least as I perceived them. Even a retired Army general, Julius W. Becton Jr., couldn’t get things straightened out after he took the helm in 1996.

Seeing Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee in recent years cut through the stranglehold that the entrenched interests have had on this school system seemingly forever has been a pleasure and a relief. Despite Chancellor Rhee’s rough edges, the improved results of her work, which are just beginning to be seen, probably could not have been obtained without her aggressive efforts.

While I could not understand Chancellor Rhee’s willingness to campaign for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s reelection, the thought that the D.C. schools are probably going to revert to their pre-Rhee ways is more than painful to contemplate.

If the reforms are stopped, the D.C. schools stand to lose millions in federal and private monies that have been pledged to help pay for the changes that are underway. Let’s hope that that looming threat will prevent things from reverting to the deplorable state of affairs we all remember.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | September 22, 2010; 10:02 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., D.C. politics, HotTopic, Vincent Gray, schools  
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Comments

Michelle Rhee is a disgrace and should Rhee-sign.

You say "rough edges"? How about disrespect of the parents and communities of our children...to the point of calling a democratic mayoral election outcome "devastating"! This is a colonial mentality that belongs with Newt Gingrich. We can do better and YES WE WILL!!!

Posted by: Nicnamibia | September 23, 2010 1:43 AM | Report abuse

Peter,

While being a casual observer of the condition of DCPS over the years, as well as the perceived achievements under Michelle Rhee; what you have witnessed the educational equivalent of Enron. Yes DCPS needs to improve for those that have no other option than a public education for their child, but those improvements need to be real...what Rhee did isn't real and not the reform that is so needed for DCPS.

Less than 48 hours after Mayor Fenty lost the election, the State Superintendent, Dr. Kerri Briggs resigned without warning. She obviously doesn't want to be around when this house of cards comes tumbling down. There is some progress being made, but it is small and incremental. The numbers used to grab national headlines are fiction and will be proven as so. And please don't bring up the NAEP scores; you can't take credit for gains when you had only been on the job for six months.

The problem is that there are too many well-intentioned, casual observers that don't know more than what they read in this paper.

Posted by: KwameFan | September 23, 2010 3:02 AM | Report abuse

To Rhee's "people worshipers" I presume the future seems bleak.

However, to the more sane among us, school reform will continue, and perhaps at a more robust pace as it will be in a more open, deliberate and transparent governance structure. Critical stakeholders will be drawn together vs. pulled apart.

Allen Lu will continue with school renovations.

The sky in DC will not begin falling when Rhee leaves DCPS.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | September 23, 2010 6:42 AM | Report abuse

"the thought that the D.C. schools are probably going to revert to their pre-Rhee ways is more than painful to contemplate.'

Then stop thinking about it, Peter. Gray has said and demonstrated all along that school reform is very important to him and will continue. Did you know that?

Please put your unfounded fears away and don't get too excited that the Post printed this -- it plays right into their plan to arouse fear among the populace. I'm just shocked that they couldn't find a reader from DC to express the concerns you have. It would have been much more compelling.

Maybe tomorrow.

Posted by: efavorite | September 23, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Hi Peter and/or Others,

Is it accurate that even w/all of Rhees "reforms," more than 45% od students in DCPS are not reading at grade level? I seem to recall reading that stat in the WP. If it is true, it would seem that a lot of the media's attention to "reform" is propaganda. I am still amazed, even today, of the dire consequences and severe constraints placed on opportunities for adults who are functionally illiterate, which is the end result of a school system wherein, despite loudy boasted "reform" that rides (appearantly) on the personality of a single chancellor, students, by and large, are still not reading at grade level. I want to know if the readers who claim to have followed DCPS reform have ever enrolled in a statistics class at the university level? If so, you will easliy recognize the hype.

Posted by: felicerobinson1 | September 23, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

What would the DC schools be without Rhee?

The DC Schools "without" Rhee will be like many other school systems engaging in reform efforts as it did "before" Rhee with documented success.

The DC schools "after" Rhee will still implement reform efforts "after" Rhee.

Posted by: candycane1 | September 23, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Only 15 schools in the District of Columbia this year met the annual goals of No Child Left Behind, down from 54 in 2009. Gray should have announced that the incompetent Chancellor Rhee and her "experiment" is over and he has accepted her resignation.

Posted by: hello101 | September 24, 2010 7:17 AM | Report abuse

..it's worth noting that the teachers union poured over a million dollars to defeat Fenty - do you think Gray will demand concessions from them, specifically relating to merit pay, or peer review? short answer, No..he is in their pocket, so look forward to most of the reforms Fenty and Rhee championed going out the window - face it DC, Gray won with the votes of union members who liked the old system of once you got your foot in the door, it stayed in - in four years when the DC school system is heading straight to the bottom again, we'll hear some more rationales from union members and other leeches of city government about how 'it takes time' - unfortunately yet another generation of kids will have been lost - way to go DC union members! congratulations...

Posted by: paulserrano | September 24, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

paul serrano - Fenty had raised 5 million dollars for his campaign. whose pocket do you think he was in?

Posted by: efavorite | September 25, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

If the future of our schools and our children is dependent on the efforts and/or vision of one person than we have already lost. For an interesting take on the role of community in teaching, read my blog at teachermandc.wordpress.com.

Posted by: dcproud1 | September 25, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

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