Daily Video

May 6, 2009

D.C. School Reformer Rhee Remakes Public Image

In less then two years D.C. Public School Chancellor, Michelle Rhee, has closed 23 under-enrolled schools, fired more than 15 percent of her central office staff, replaced over 30 percent of the city’s principals, and gotten a lot of national media attention.

The dynamic Chancellor Rhee has her cheerleaders and her critics.

After a 17 month lobby for a controversial new teacher’s contract that would allow teachers to make much more money in exchange for tenure flopped, she has tried to remake her image reaching out to teachers in a listening tour and holding small meetings after school.

Recently, both the chancellor and the teachers union agreed to work with a mediator, former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, to try to resolve the dispute and create a new national model of school reform.


“We can actually begin to shift the dynamic in the city and eventually in the country of who should go into teaching.” Michelle Rhee, Chancellor, Washington, D.C., Public School System

“It created a culture of low morale, one that was lowest that I’ve seen since I’ve been in D.C. public schools, and I’ve been here for 25 years.” George Parker, President, Washington Teachers’ Union

“These schools are dysfunctional. The current dialogue that’s going on or the current discourse, rather, about education is being monopolized by people who are showcasing.” Randy Brown, teacher

Warm Up Questions

1. Who is in charge of your school? Who is in charge of all the schools in your community?

2. Why do people become teachers?

Discussion Questions

1. What is tenure? Do you think teachers should have it? Why or why not?

2. Who do you think should make the decisions about teachers pay? The chancellor? The principal? Teachers? Students and parents?

3. What do you think of Chancellor Rhee? How does she strike you in this report?

4. Do you think you would want to work for Chancellor Rhee? Why or why not?

5. Why do you think Chancellor Rhee has gotten so much national media attention? Do you think it is good or bad?

Additional Resources

Read this trasncript

Washington Post Op-Ed: The Toughest Job

Learning Matters

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