Lessons from Michelle
"Michelle Rhee did mostly what she was hired to do: shake up the system, be a bull in a china shop," said Mike Petrilli, vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a nonprofit education think tank.
Really? A bull in a china shop? I guess if you think slash and burn is ed reform, okay then.
Larry Cuban, a former D.C. public schools teacher who wrote a book about education reform in Texas, says Rhee took the "sledgehammer" approach of many new schools heads: trying to force reform through quickly. In her first year, she closed more than 20 schools and replaced nearly three dozen principals. Cuban said that approach doesn't work.
"It fails because it often alienates the very groups you have to cooperate and build partnerships with, and those are teachers and parents," Cuban said.
Feeling kind of wistful here because I'd love if our district was trying to build partnerships with teachers and parents. That the Board and the Superintendent have never said anything publicly about the 99% vote of no confidence against Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's leadership is troubling. Do they not take it seriously? Are there no fences to be mended? (I do know that at least one School Board member has reached out to teachers to understand the vote.) Saying things like you think some TFA training is better than what current teachers got doesn't help.
George Parker, president of the Washington Teachers Union, said he wasn't bothered by the pace of change under Rhee but rather by her approach.
"There was a certain degree of impatience that caused her to overlook the human element of this," Parker said. Had she "exhibited a little more sensitivity," he added, she would have fared better.
Who does the above statement sound like? It certainly isn't about being "nice" but realizing that you can't just steamroll over people.
In the end, Rhee, a former Teach For America teacher, didn't last much longer than many urban school heads. According to a 2008 report from the Council of Great City Schools, the average tenure of a school superintendent is about three and a half years - about what Rhee's was.