I was waiting with bated breath. I was hoping against all odds. I tried ever so hard to keep an open mind. Maybe, just maybe, if I sat still and wished hard enough, I would actually hear something different.
You have no idea how much, for the sake of D.C. children, I longed to hear something different, to feel the aging cynic in me nudge.
Unfortunately, the yack-yack was the same during a one-hour editorial board meeting with D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.
Oh, for sure, now the hopeful promises and hard-edged pledges come wrapped in a young, pretty package. No question that this 37-year-old, Ivy League-educated mother and businesswoman is driven and determined to set her GPS on a more “focused” course.
Look out, loafers. The school system’s newest straight-shooter is selling wolf tickets with a take-no-prisoners attitude.
“My actions will speak for themselves,” a smug Mrs. Rhee said. “When I send the signal, there will not be any questions.”
Still, watching and listening to her closely, I wondered how long I should bet on the survival of this esoteric educator.
She is the latest in the long line of superintendents who sat in the same seat and spewed forth the same reformer’s rhetoric about this failing “faceless bureaucracy.”
As expected, Mrs. Rhee — a master of inane corporate public-relations pabulum — waxed bureaucratic gobbledygook about “verification teams” and “data-driven systems” and “incenting the right things” during her virgin visit to The Washington Times on Monday.
Excuse my lapse of gracious Southern hospitality, but I interrupted her in midsentence of a soliloquy about establishing better “processes” and “expectations” and “assessments” in the school system.
I respectfully issued a challenge, saying I sincerely hoped by the time she left the room, Mrs. Rhee would offer us something we haven’t already heard.
One simpatico editor, obviously feeling my pain, also asked her point-blank what made her think she could accomplish what so many others before her couldn’t in the two decades we’ve being covering D.C. schools, especially with so little experience as a school administrator.
Be you chancellor or superintendent, the central mission must be the same: improving academic achievement. City residents have ample evidence that a change of title or personage does not portend a regime change.
Mrs. Rhee said the school system does not need additional resources and has too many employees for the ever-shifting student population.
She has fallen into the trap of tarring and feathering all school employees with the same disparaging brush stroke that denies the unheralded progress of dedicated workers who have survived good and bad leaders — politicians as well as educators.View Entire Story
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