To be replaced by the D.C. 'Deputy Supt. for Human Capital'... Michelle Rhee to announce resignation as Washington D.C. schools chancellor on October 13, 2010

The infamous chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools, Michelle Rhee, will announce her resignation on October 13, 2010, according to the Washington Post. As noted in the article, Rhee will be followed by another "Teach for America" and "New Teacher Project" product, the "Deputy Supt. for Human Capital" Kaya Henderson. Those who run the D.C. schools apparently didn't consider the possibility that Rhee's "Teacher for America" and "New Teacher Project" stints were part of the problem, not part of the solution.

The Washington Post article appears below.

Michelle Rhee to announce resignation as D.C. schools chancellor on Wednesday, By Tim Craig and Bill Turque, Washington Post Staff Writers, Tuesday, October 12, 2010; 9:54 PM

Kaya Henderson (above) served as Michelle Rhee's Deputy for so-called "Human Capital" and will now succeed Rhee. Like Rhee, Henderson is a product of corporate "school reform" Teach for America and the New Teacher Project.D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee will announce Wednesday that she is resigning at the end of this month, bringing an abrupt end to a tenure that drew national acclaim but that also became a central issue in an election that sent her patron, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, to defeat.

Rhee survived three contentious years that made her a superstar of the education reform movement and one of the longest-serving school leaders in the city in two decades. Student test scores rose, and the teachers union accepted a contract that gave the chancellor sweeping powers to fire the lowest-performing among them.

But Rhee will leave with considerable unfinished business in her quest to improve teaching, close the worst schools and infuse a culture of excellence in a system that has been one of the nation's least effective at educating students.

Rhee will be replaced until at least the end of the school year by Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson, a close associate of Rhee's from their days at the New Teacher Project, a teacher recruiting nonprofit group that Rhee founded and ran before she was appointed by Fenty in June 2007. Henderson was a vice president for the group and is scheduled to be at the news conference Wednesday.

Rhee and Gray recently reached a "mutual decision" during a phone conversation that it was best for her to step down instead of serving in a Gray administration, said sources close to both, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "They both agreed the sooner they could put this to bed, the better for the kids and the community, " a source close to Gray said.

Gray and Rhee declined to comment Tuesday. But the news conference, which will be held at the Mayflower hotel in Northwest Washington, appears designed to send residents a signal that Rhee, Gray and Fenty are united in pushing ahead with school reform while easing dissension in the community over Rhee's tenure.

The move won immediate support from the Washington Teachers Union, which long has battled Rhee. "I think leaving sooner is better than later, so there will not be all this speculation," union head George Parker said. "Making a decision will relieve the tension."

Rhee's departure has been anticipated since Fenty was defeated in the Sept. 14 Democratic mayoral primary. She campaigned on his behalf and questioned whether Gray had the political will to make the unpopular decisions she thought were necessary to sustain school improvement.

Two weeks ago, Gray and Rhee met for about 90 minutes to begin talking about her future and the chairman's vision for school reform. Since then, the two have held several private phone discussions, sources said.

Gray and Rhee agreed that the debate over her future was becoming a distraction for teachers, students and parents, sources said.

"She feels it's important people understand it was a mutual decision and the two leaders came together to do what's best for the city, the kids and the school system," a source close to Rhee said.

Rhee's goals — higher student achievement, better teachers and greater accountability for their classroom performance — were generally shared by Rhee's predecessors. But with new powers putting the struggling school system under mayoral control, Rhee pursued the goals with an unprecedented zeal.

She closed nore than two dozen schools, fired teachers by the hundreds and spent more than two years negotiating a labor contract that gives principals new control over teacher hiring while establishing a new performance-pay system that ties compensation to growth in student test scores.

The teacher firings were among Rhee's most controversial moves.

Gray has repeatedly said that he supports an ambitious program of school reform but does not think that change depends on a single person. In an interview with The Washington Post last week, he said that if Rhee left, he would seek a replacement who shares many of her values and is not a veteran who has spent several decades in top school jobs.

He ruled out Rhee's predecessor, Clifford Janey, whose name had circulated as a possible replacement. Other prominent names that have circulated include Robert Bobb, the former D.C. school board president and city administrator who is now the fiscal overseer of the Detroit school system. Some have suggested that Henderson could become Rhee's permanent replacement.

Fenty agreed to appoint Henderson to the interim job at Gray's request, sources said.

In Henderson, Gray inherits someone completely in tune with Rhee on the fundamentals of education reform, especially the belief that teacher quality is the most important determinant of student success. She was Rhee's first appointment and was named her top deputy the day Rhee was introduced to the District as its first schools chancellor. At the time, Rhee made it sound as if they had come to the District as a package.

"I told Kaya, 'I can't do this without you,'" Rhee said at the time. "She's everything you'd want in a leader. She has an ability to motivate people. She's a critical thinker, and she's an innovative thinker."

At the New Teacher Project, Henderson ran the organization's D.C. operation, which had contracts with D.C. public schools to supply teachers. Before that, Henderson worked for Teach for America — where Rhee began her educational career — teaching middle school Spanish in the South Bronx.

At a D.C. Council meeting last year, Henderson recounted her first impressions of the city's struggling school system and her aspirations to change it. "I was stunned at the lack of commitment to ensuring the highest-quality educational force in the country," Henderson said.

"The District tolerated people and practices that other school systems would never accept. This administration has been and will continue to be incredibly aggressive in our efforts to improve the quality of our workforce, because our students can't afford to wait until the adults get it together."

At a meeting in August of school principals, Henderson offered a football coach-style motivational talk, reinforcing Rhee's core message: that poverty and other conditions outside the classroom are not an excuse for poor academic achievement.

"Our responsibility is to deliver the goods, no matter what the situations our students are in," she said. "The reform is in the schoolhouse. You are here because we believe you are the right people to deliver this reform. The election is not our concern; the election is not your concern. Go hard, or go home!"

As deputy chancellor for "human capital," Henderson was a key figure in the firing of 98 central office employees in 2008. She was also lead D.C. negotiator on the marathon contract talks with the Washington Teachers' Union, which led to a labor pact that establishes classroom performance - rather than traditional seniority - as the main factor driving job security. The talks were at times contentious and teetered on collapse before former Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke was appointed mediator.

But Henderson was known to have a decent relationship with teachers union President George Parker, a point probably not lost on Gray, whose primary campaign benefited from union support. Although there is little daylight between Rhee and Henderson philosophically, Henderson's political and presentational skills might be better than those of her boss. That was the opinion of at least one senior education adviser to Gray in an interview several weeks ago about possible replacements for Rhee.


October 13, 2010 at 11:57 AM

By: The Retired Principal (RP)

Rhee out, Huberman next?

Rhee is out, one down and one to go! Ron Huberman, when are you going to submit your resignation?

October 13, 2010 at 11:47 PM

By: Colin

Huberman Needs to Go

If Chicago is smart and concerned about students, they need to let Huberman go. They stopped him last week, but why should he be a lame duck with a no future in CPS. The students and teachers will face the change sooner or later. Why not sooner? Let him go and put things back in place. It will have to be rebuilt. Data collection is fine, but Goodbye PM team. See ya, wouldn't want to be ya!

October 14, 2010 at 8:01 AM

By: luv2teach

Shefffield Needs to Go

And next on the list of superintendents who need to leave the field is Lavonne Sheffield of Rockford. All the madness needs to end!

October 16, 2010 at 1:42 AM

By: jay rehak

society needs to stop

Society needs to stop feeding on itself. We are destroying ourselves by systematically pulling ourselves. We need to make sure our institutions are led by qualified people.

October 16, 2010 at 5:14 AM

By: jay rehak

society needs to stop

Society needs to stop feeding on itself. We are destroying ourselves by systematically pulling ourselves. We need to make sure our institutions are led by qualified people.

October 16, 2010 at 8:36 AM

By: Chris

Society needs to stop

BINGO! Jay Rehak said what all of us are afraid to admit.

October 16, 2010 at 5:03 PM

By: Jay Rehak

Creating institutions that are designed to work against themselves

Unfortunately, the idea that we, as a society, can create Boards of Education that do not include educators as fundamental members of the leadership teams cuts to the very large problem of society feeding on itself. We create "no win systems' that are put in place for years, at great cost that end in frustration and finger pointing.

Any honest review of school boards around the country should lead all to the conclusion that a disparate group of interestsneeda to be represented, all with the communal goal of building better schools.

The Michelle Rhee's of the world who refuse to consider the subtle nuances of quality instruction only serve those who would delay an honest debate and review of 21st Century education. That honest debate and review is long overdue; unfortunately, such a debate requires trust. Again, the Michelle Rhee's of the world who would try to dumb down this fundamental debate, only serve those who do not wish to answer the hard questions with tough choices.

The big questions that should be asked are these: What does a 21st Century education look like? Since diversity of learning styles have long been established, how can delivering a quality education to those diverse styles be efficiently put into practice by school ditricts large and small? How can quality discussions about the direction of 21st Century instruction take place when the current climate is so toxic and trust among the stakeholders does not exist?

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