Michelle Rhee Out as DC School Chancellor
Sad if entirely expected news: Michelle Rhee is stepping down as chancellor of DC’s school system by “mutual consent” with the newly elected mayor.
Rhee survived three contentious years that made her a superstar of the education reform movement and one of the longest-serving school leaders in the city in two decades. Student test scores rose, and the teachers union accepted a contract that gave the chancellor sweeping powers to fire the lowest-performing among them.
But Rhee will leave with considerable unfinished business in her quest to improve teaching, close the worst schools and infuse a culture of excellence in a system that has been one of the nation’s least effective at educating students.
Rhee will be replaced until at least the end of the school year by Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson, a close associate of Rhee’s from their days at the New Teacher Project, a teacher recruiting nonprofit group that Rhee founded and ran before she was appointed by Fenty in June 2007. Henderson was a vice president for the group and is scheduled to be at the news conference Wednesday.
Rhee and Gray recently reached a “mutual decision” during a phone conversation that it was best for her to step down instead of serving in a Gray administration, said sources close to both, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They both agreed the sooner they could put this to bed, the better for the kids and the community, ” a source close to Gray said.
Rhee will find another job the instant she wants one; she’s a rock star in her field. The District’s school system, on the other hand, will almost assuredly move back into mediocrity before settling into its customary position of truly awful.