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D.C. School Chancellor Targets Teachers, Angering Union

Chancellor Michelle Rhee's mission to reform D.C.'s troubled schools -- by firing ineffective teachers and offering a new pay system for those who increase students' results -- has met resistance from the teachers' union. Special correspondent John Merrow reports on the growing tension.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And finally tonight, fixing Washington, D.C.'s, troubled public schools, year two.

    The NewsHour's special correspondent for education, John Merrow, has been chronicling those efforts. Tonight, the battle between the teachers' union and the district's chancellor.

    MICHELLE RHEE, chancellor, Washington, D.C., Public School System: OK. People all the time say to me, "Oh, my gosh, you have the hardest job in the city." And I say, "No I don't. The hardest job that I ever had and the hardest job in my mind that exists is being a teacher in the classroom every single day."

    JOHN MERROW, NewsHour correspondent: In August, three days before schools opened in Washington, D.C., Chancellor Michelle Rhee addressed the city's 4,000 teachers and principals.

  • MICHELLE RHEE:

    We are going to change the face of public education in this country.

  • JOHN MERROW:

    It had been only 14 months since the rookie superintendent accepted the job of turning around one of the worst public school districts in the country.

    And in her whirlwind first year, she closed 23 schools, replaced 58 principals and assistant principals, fired nearly 17 percent of her central office, and began a process known as restructuring in 27 schools that had failed to make sufficient academic progress.

    Michelle Rhee's next target? Teachers.

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