D.C. SCHOOLS Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee stands accused, it seems, of trying to manage her budget in a way that will do the least harm to students. Not a crime, you might think — unless, like Ms. Rhee’s accusers on the D.C. Council, you are more interested in scoring political points than in hearing what she is doing for children.
Ms. Rhee was called before the council Thursday to explain the layoffs of 388 employees, including 266 teachers and other educators. She provided convincing evidence of the budget pressures leading to this month’s reduction in force. She offered solid reasons for the hiring of some 900 teachers last spring and summer, and held out an olive branch to the council — saying she never intended to blame it for the layoffs. She made clear that her goal was to save summer school as an option for as many children as possible.
This, by the way, was no secret; we referred to Ms. Rhee’s efforts to save summer school on these pages Sept. 23. It might help, in fact, if council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) got on the phone when Ms. Rhee called. It’s also clear, in the opinion of budget experts we consulted, that Ms. Rhee has the authority to cut now, with plans to restore summer school, as long as she submits a reprogramming later. So exclamations of surprise at her plans and accusations of law-breaking have little credibility.