Thursday, October 14, 2010

Michelle Rhee Resigns Under Pressure

Washington Teachers' Union expresses "glee". They donated over a million dollars to unseat the patron, Mayor Adrian Fenty, of better schools for D.C.

Ms. Rhee's tenure was marked by improved test scores and putting the interest of student first. She closed under-performing schools, fired bad instructors, supported school vouchers for low-income families and opened charter schools. She negotiated a new teachers contract that included merit pay and has become a model for other re-form minded educators (and boards)as well as politicians in urban districts across the country.

While Ms. Rhees successor, Kaya Henderson, is her deputy and and ally, as interim chancellor, what will happen when the unions oppose Ms. Henderson? One major reason education reform is so difficult is because unions believe their political influence and money will outlast even the bravest of the reformers in the end.

Also, their confidence that sooner or later they will get "their" people on the school boards.

As the WSJ says that is why unions are cheering in Washington today. What's new.

Despite the unions heavy handedness, and their motto of no firing, there are hundreds of outstanding public schools across America including many in the Peoria area.

My visit to the new Glen Oak Learning Center and a tour of classrooms and much of the facility lends hope that this low-income black and Hispanic dominated area will succeed in starting students on a lifetime learning career. While Assistant Principal Douglass Adkins, indicated the school was to serve in the 600 student capacity, it currently has over 900 students attending. My cursory opinion is that the school is spacious enough to handle the existing attendance.

I personally believe that newness soon wears off and it will be up to the caliber of the principal and teachers to accomplish much more than was accomplished in the old school. Why do I say much more? The still under-funded building comes at a cost of $22+ million of all borrowed money. Peoria Public Schools now use of 60% of my property tax bill so I expect superior results from the spending of these millions we had to borrow.

Most of the community believes as I do. There is always the reluctance of the right people to run for school boards in an urban arena. I have listed those reasons many times with proposals for change.

Back to Michelle Rhee. If she is the person I believe she is, she will surface at another major urban school with major problems and someone over her who understands the changes that must be made and gives her the time and freedom to do so.

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