It came as no surprise to District of Columbia residents when Michelle Rhee announced her resignation this week as chancellor of D.C. Public Schools. That her resignation (and tenure) made national news illustrates the depth of the education debates that she sparked. She leaves as her legacy the mass firings of teachers rated as minimally effective, increased emphasis on charter schools, and expanded use of standardized tests. Unafraid to publicly speak her mind, she has been alternately applauded or scorned by educators, depending on their views and positions in the broader educational system.
For education policymakers, how significant is Rhee’s very public struggle with a major city’s public school system? Does it help or hurt the debate to have a face and a name attached to it? Can educators take policy cues from her experience, or are the lessons to be learned largely about politics?