It's been more than twelve months since Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty named a relative unknown as the city's schools chancellor. Hard to believe, considering the tremendous amount of change that Michelle Rhee has wrought in that time. From closing failing schools, to cutting dead weight from the central offices, to hard-ball negotiations with the unions to radically revamp teacher pay, Rhee has done more in one trip around the sun than probably all of her predecessors did over their combined tenures. Equally amazing is the way she has extinguished critical flare-ups. This is due, in large part, to her ability to absorb and outlast the tirades of her opponents (and her stalwart support from Fenty). Last school year, she attended 370 community meetings, at more than a few of which parents screamed at her. An unnamed source told the Washington Post, "Those who scream the loudest were used to winning," but Rhee's position was, "We aren't going to let a vocal minority make a decision for us." And so far, she hasn't. Here's hoping for another successful year.
"Better or Worse, It's Rhee's School System Now," by V. Dion Haynes, Washington Post, August 25, 2008