Michelle Rhee Inspires Me Again: Special Ed Vouchers, Teacher Dismissals

I’m getting caught up once again on the news today. And yes, I have to say it, Washington D.C. school chancellor Michelle Rhee has done my heart good again — she who has helped to inspire my radical education reform side. She remains serious about getting the job done, and even the big Time Magazine cover story a year and a half ago hasn’t slowed her down (I guess they don’t have curses like Sports Illustrated does.)

Anyway, given one of the toughest job assignments out there, Rhee continues to do great things. Two examples have graced the news pages recently:

  1. The Washington Times reported that Rhee is backing vouchers for special-needs D.C. students in the style of Florida’s successful McKay Scholarship program. Matt Ladner explains how such a program would save the school district money while increasing parental satisfaction and improving programs through competition. Congress pulled funding from the voucher program for D.C.’s poor students, but Rhee isn’t letting that be an excuse to give up on school choice.
  2. Then, just a couple days later, the Washington Post reported that Rhee used her upgraded IMPACT evaluation system and newly negotiated powers to remove 165 ineffective teachers from the classroom and put another 737 “minimally effective” teachers on one-year notice. Overdue and badly needed in one of the worst-performing school systems. Glad to see the important story put into proper context, the sage Rick Hess takes his hat off to Rhee.

Once again I’m inspired by the bold leadership and tough love from the D.C. chancellor. Are any other officials out there paying attention?