Michelle Rhee to Resign: What Next for DC Schools?

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Adrian Fenty lost the vigorously contested DC mayoral primary and, as many expected, DC public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee--regarded as a major focus of the primary--is out. She formally announces her resignation Wednesday. During her time as chancellor, Rhee antagonized teachers' unions and closed schools, but, in doing so, presided over what education reform proponents see as the closest thing to real progress in a struggling urban district. Now, observers worry that the Rhee-era gains will be lost after she leaves.

  • The Kids Are the Ones Who Will Suffer  "Rhee," writes James Joyner at Outside the Beltway, "will find another job the instant she wants one; she's a rock star in her field. The District's school system, on the other hand, will almost assuredly move back into mediocrity before settling into its customary position of truly awful."
  • Comment on This, Obama  John Miller at National Review recalls Obama's praise of Rhee in a presidential debate back in 2008. "Rhee has fired incompetent teachers and seen student test scores inch upward," writes Miller. "Will Obama have the guts to bemoan the departure of this 'wonderful' public servant?" He wonders, laying Rhee's resignation at the feet of the angry teachers' unions. "Or is Rhee no longer a convenient campaign prop?"
  • What Happens Now  DC's $75 million grant from the Obama administration's Race to the Top competition depends on the plans in the application--Rhee's plans--actually being carried out, notes The Daily Beast's Dana Goldstein. But it remains to be seen whether the administration, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan in particular, will be willing to follow through on this policy and play hardball--forcing Rhee's successor to enact the plans in order to get the money.
  • Likely Replacements  "Presumptive mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray," explain The Washington Post's Tim Craig and BIll Turque, "has repeatedly said that he supports an ambitious program of school reform but does not believe that changes depend on a single person. In an interview with the Post last week, he said that if Rhee departed, he would seek to name a replacement who shared many of her values and not a vet­eran who had spent several decades in top school jobs."

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