Michelle A. Rhee intends to “shine a bright light on achievement” if confirmed as chancellor of the District’s public-school system, she told members of the D.C. Council during her confirmation hearing yesterday.
“And I intend to make the District of Columbia public schools among the brightest in the nation,” said Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s choice to run the troubled public schools as part of his takeover plan.
The confirmation hearing also included witnesses who defended her resume assertions of dramatic student improvement under her watch in a previous job, amid concern that she doesn’t have the experience for the chancellor position.
The 37-year-old mother of two began her career as an elementary-school teacher in Baltimore and later founded a New York City nonprofit that places teachers in low-performing school districts across the country.
The Washington Times reported last week that Mrs. Rhee has not been able to prove statements on her resume that students she taught at Baltimore's Harlem Park Community School in the 1990s went from scoring in the 13th percentile to the 90th percentile on nationally standardized tests by the end of her two years teaching them.
“We did not actually have documentation at that time,” Mrs. Rhee said in response to a question about the test scores from Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Democrat. “Since then, I’ve actually … looked into multiple times if that information was available from the Baltimore school system and they repeatedly told me it was not.”
Mrs. Rhee said she would like to create a system that provides teachers with documentation of students’ progress. Several of her former colleagues at the Baltimore school also vouched for her success in the classroom before the council.
Linda Carter, Harlem Park’s former principal, said after her testimony that she at one time had a document that listed Harlem Park test scores by grade level and school comparison. Those scores showed significant gains, Ms.Carter said, and she told the council that she had seen documentation showing gains of more than 50 percent in at least the third and fifth grades at Harlem Park.
During yesterday’s marathon hearing that lasted more than 11 hours, Mrs. Rhee also outlined her priorities for the school system, which include rebuilding the costly special-education program, expanding career- and technical-education offerings and implementing an interim-assessment program to track the progress of students and teachers.
During her four hours answering questions, Mrs. Rhee emphasized bringing quality principals and teachers into schools and creating greater accountability among school-system personnel.
“I have no interest in creating a new plan for a new plan’s sake,” she said. “I am not interested in doing new things. I am interested in doing effective things.”View Entire Story
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