Thoughtsworththinking.net applauds the public service career of Michelle Rhee, who today announced her departure as Chancellor of Washington, D.C.’s public schools.
Rhee used rigorous methods to assess school and student performance, big bonuses to reward star teachers, and aggressive management changes to bring in principals who could make a difference. She didn’t spend too much time stroking egos and making sure key communities and constituencies (including many parents) felt included. But she got results.
It’s easy to criticize Rhee for not doing more to keep a critical mass of stakeholders happy. But at the end of the day, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Rhee’s passionate pursuit of excellence in public education shook up a school system debilitated by decades of dysfunctional management. More concerned with doing her job than keeping it, she displayed a sense of urgency reflecting the best traditions of public service.
With D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty–Rhee’s political benefactor–having lost his reelection bid, it’s no surprise she called it quits. But public policy experts will be analyzing the results of Rhee’s three year tenure for years to come, with a favorable verdict paving the way for her to return on a higher stage.