Local observers have mixed view of Washington, D.C., school chancellor

Dec. 8, 2008
Despite national attention focused on Michelle Rhee, some question her actions
With an appearance on the cover of last week's Time magazine, Washington, D.C., Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee has cemented her status as the national standard-bearer of tough-minded, no-excuses urban school reform. For many, Rhee's narrative has elements that are irresistible. A slight, young Korean American woman with no big-city school leadership experience is plucked from the nonprofit world by a reform-minded mayor to fire bad teachers, face down their union and take on hidebound bureaucrats. Closer to home, Rhee has inspired a mix of praise, puzzlement and resentment. Boosters say her high profile can only help Washington overhaul its schools. Others see a message that is hostile to older, experienced teachers and partial to younger instructors from nontraditional training programs such as Teach for America, where she started her career.To read The Washington Post article, click here. FROM AUGUST 2008: After a tumultuous year of unprecedented change, the fingerprints of Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee will be found all over Washington, D.C.'s 120 public schools as students return Monday. The schools will reflect her undaunted approach to reorganization, her sense of urgency and her desire to address students' emotional as well as educational needs. The direction of the nearly 50,000-student system could be determined by the decisions she made in her first year: closing 23 underenrolled schools; finalizing overhauls at 26 academically ailing schools; and firing 150 people she considered poor performers. To read The Washington Post article, click here.

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