October 13th, 2010
01:20 PM ET

Embattled D.C. schools chief stepping down

Washington schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee announces her resignation Wednesday.

The chancellor of the District of Columbia's Public Schools announced she was stepping down Wednesday, after three and a half years as head of the troubled school system.

"The best way to keep the reforms going is for this reformer to step aside," Michelle Rhee said in announcing her resignation.

Her time in office included successes in the form of higher test scores for D.C. students and a win in the second round of Race to the Top, a federal education program that provides funds to states that have innovative plans in education.

However, Rhee also frustrated the school system's teachers with layoffs for those who didn't meet new evaluation criteria. Both local and national teacher unions fought her changes.

The school system in the nation's capital is one focus of the documentary "Waiting for Superman," which features Rhee as a key voice in advocating for school reform.

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Filed under: District of Columbia • Education • U.S.
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. whitekong78

    Why not lay off some of the horrendous parents who are raising mindless violent sociopaths? Teachers can't raise a child and are sometimes expected to. When kids care more about thug culture than they do learning its not the teacher's fault. Some teachers I'm sure should get fired but the DC school district is probably just as bad as Detroit's

    October 13, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jean1968

      To Whitekong78

      My children attend DC Public Schools and as a parent, (I believe) I have raised two very well-adjusted, smart, and non-violent childen. So, for you to say that "some of the horrendous parents raising mindless violent sociopaths", you should get your facts straight before you go off shooting your mouth. Most violent sociopaths do not come from the urban areas that you referred to. As a single mother, I am raising my children the best way possible. All schools in DC are not bad. My children have the good fortune of going to very excellent schools and have some of the best teachers that actually care about the education of the children at their schools. I'm very offended by your statement.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • EarnYourOwn

      Why are you offended? White explained what is the main problem in america today, and that is the lack of sufficient parenting. I have two kids and fortunatly I have not had any problems with them. I see the issues everytime I go out to the mall or movies and I see teenagers wearig all black cloths and black makeup with piercings all over or seeing kids wearing cloths that are 5-6 sizes to big for them and acting a fool in public shows what alot of parents teach there kids.

      My sons know better than to think the ycan get away with anything like that. I have thought both my sons that the most important impression in life is the first one. If you expect anything out of life you need to work for it and strive to be "above the influence" like the new anti-drug commercials say.

      Parents and kids need to relize that until the child is 16 years old the parents are responsible for everything that child does and should be held accountable finacially and legally. And dont try and give me crap about troublesome children. There are plenty of military schools or boot camps that can assist in raising your child to be a productive member of society if you can not.

      Now I appluad you for raising two kids as a single mother in a very large city that has alot of problems, and hope everything in your and your kids dreams come true.


      October 13, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • termlimits

      Any challenge to the almighty govt employee unions and this is what you get. D.C. and other large urban schools are c rap and will remain c rap as long as the teachers union has a strangle hold on them. D amn glad I don't live there.

      October 14, 2010 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. Lisa baby

    I have seen more bad teachers than good they stand up in front of young minds droning on for hours and making no impression and passing the kids grade to grade without a care for the fact that some of the children cant read or write oh well la dee dah! where are the teachers of the 60s and 70s who made learning fun interesting where did all those methods that got kids involved go to they have to have been kept going somewhere if it worked wth did it go

    October 13, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • couldubanydumber?

      Where are the parents of the 60s and 70s who made their kids do their homework, limited TV and phone use, insisted kids be respectful and obey the school's rules, respected teachers and instilled in their children that same respect, and didn't expect teachers to do what should be the parent's job?

      October 13, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • couldubanydumber?

      And as for the teachers who "made learning fun", dear, guess what? School administrators like Rhee don't WANT teachers to be creative. They want teachers who will robotically follow a prescribed curriculum, with no variations among educators, no time for the "teachable moment". The creative teachers have either quit or been fired.

      October 13, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |

    Too bad. She made so much progress with students.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • couldubanydumber?

      No, she didn't. She didn't work with any students and her experience in the classroom before she took this job was practically non-existent. Rhee blames teachers for every ill in the schools. Read her idiotic "manifesto" in the Washington Post. It's nothing but a bunch of "educationese" and jargon, much sound and fury, signifying nothing. Not ONE concrete suggestion at all in the entire piece of garbage. Not a single solution offered except to "use technology"-and then nothing to explain HOW this technology will be used and how it will make any difference at all.

      Don't be gullible. DC is well rid of this charlatan.

      October 13, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. kirk merrifield

    then he was not referring to you

    October 13, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. whitekong78

    Good for you Jean. I live near Detroit. The dropout rate is about 60%. My comment wasn't directed towards you so I'm not sure why you took offense. What a surprise someone is offended. Why is this woman being forced to step down? The teacher's union is upset that she wants to have better standards for teachers. The union is very powerful and often backs political candidates that will maintain the status quo. Being the good parent that you are you must surely know of some bad parents. There were plenty of lazy or no good parents in my neighborhood. Acting like the problem doesn't exist won't fix the problem. You don't think gangs or thugs are sociopaths?

    October 13, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dixie Austin, Texas

      Gangs and thugs are sociopaths??????? With adults out there like you know wonder.

      October 13, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. whitekong78

    Here's a quote from one 2008 report.
    "In 2006, the study found, the D.C. graduation rate fell to 48.8 percent, down 8.8 percentage points from the previous year. The figure did not include public charter schools."
    Now tell me that is only the fault of the teachers. These kids are being failed by everyone in their lives. The student has some personal responsibility of course but most kids are set up to fail from the time they're born. That's a fact sorry if it offends you. Our culture needs serious work.

    October 13, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |

    I am so sad about her leaving. She was a sane voice among all the insanity in public education. She will be missed.

    October 13, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. wendy

    I attended schools in DC back in the 80's. The public school system in DC apparently hasn't changed much. I attended a school from k-9th. There were two white girls that attended the school, myself and another girl who was my complete opposite, however, for some reason the teachers could NEVER tell us apart...hmmm I'm 5'8" she is 5'2" dark headed vs. red headed. But EVERYDAY at least one of my teachers would ask me which white girl are you......then when it was report card time, every single teacher except for one actually asked me... Well, what grade do you want? I was like are your serious... and they were. So I walked out of that school with all A's. Now, NOT every single school in DC is like this because the next year I was enrolled in School Without Walls and that was and still is an EXCELLENT SCHOOL. Just about everyone I attended school with at SWW has gone on to become Professionals. So it really does come down to the teachers..sorry but its true.

    October 13, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. whitekong78

    @ Dixie: that statement was illegible. How does pointing out the facts make a person a sociopath? I'm saying we all need to change. Eminem, Lil Wayne, and other celebrities are raising the kids that aren't being raised by their parents. This isn't a black or white issue. Everyone with half a brain can see what's going on.

    October 13, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. DC educator

    As a DC educator and parent I think there can exist a disparate world between the school and the home. Some parents like me who try desperately to find DCPS where the office personnel are not incompotent or rude. Or as an educator parents who simply refuse to admit their child has some sort of a problem so their child can get the help they so desperately need. In either case if their is any kind of disconnect the child is always going to suffer. We must always think about the best interests of the child no matter what that means.

    October 13, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Newly minted, unemployed teacher

      "Incompotent?" "if THEIR is any...?" Are you still a DC educator?

      October 13, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carl

      I hope you aren't an English teacher.

      October 13, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. phil

    A few yrs. ago, a study of Ivy League graduates revealed, that on the average, they simply could not pass an 8th grade final from the yr. 1901. Back then it was just " readin', writin' , and 'rithmatic" The " 3 R's" it was called. The idea that American students recieve premium education these days is rediculous. I recently hired a young man. He had a HS diploma, yet was unable to spell! He spelled house "howse". He actually had to sound-out words when spelling. And he would answer the phone " hull-oh". I had to let him go. I don't know how this happened to our youngsters, but my hunch is there are problems at home. "Big monsters make little monsters"...in other words, this could have never happened to our youngsters without full complicity on the part of parents. ( disclaimer: I know there are exceptions, and i'm happy you raised a bright child.)

    October 13, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • couldubanydumber?

      "Rediculous"? Your employee isn't the only one who can't spell.

      October 13, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MissMe

    It boils down to this...the PARENT must ALWAYS be the child's best advocate, to the best of the parent's ability: Even if your own education was not great, even if you have little money, even if the school is crappy and the teachers are incompetent. It will take perseverance, determination, outside help and thinking outside YOUR BOX. If the school curriculum is weak and the programs lame, then you'll have to look for free or low-cost programs and activities outside of the school or outside of your area. Strike up a partnership with other like-minded parents and take your kids to free enrichment activities in area libraries, college campuses, museums, science centers, county recreation centers, and civic clubs, etc. All of these places run weekend and summer programs, camps, after-school programs and short-term workshops to help parents expose kids to educational and creative opportunities they may be missing. Yes it will take some research and extra time, but it can be done and your child will thank you for it at some point. Don't rely on schools alone to educate your child. YOU are your child's first, and sometimes, best teacher. Probably the 3 best FREE things my mom ever did were to read to me a lot, take me to get a library card and take me to museums. Children who are exposed early and often to reading naturally develop a curiosity and love of learning outside their little boxes and almost always carry that into adulthood.

    October 13, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. phil

    @ couldyablahblahblah...Typo? And I wasn't taking a test nor trying to impress a new employer. You strain the gnat while gulping the camel.

    October 13, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • couldubanydumber?

      Nice try, bozo. You don't know how to spell any better than the kid you fired.

      October 13, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • couldubanydumber?

      On further examination of your post, it appears you haven't learned much about punctuation, either. Time for YOU to go back to class, hon.

      October 13, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. couldubanydumber?

    And it's strain AT a gnat, genius.

    October 13, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. phil

    @coulblahblahblah...iv thit iz yer reel nayme....still straining I see.

    October 13, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
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