A chance to learn from Rhee’s mistakes
By Mark Simon
Post editors and reporters appear to have latched on to every possible explanation for the public’s rejection of Mayor Adrian Fenty. Racial politics this week. Fenty’s personality. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s failure to communicate.
But Fenty’s defeat isn’t about race or personality. It’s about bad decisions, particularly on school reform. His school reform strategies, as shoved through by Rhee, alienated the voters.
Rhee certainly rates as smart, charismatic and bold. But she made decisions early in her tenure that alienated every constituency she needed, and she rested her “reforms” on strategies that national education researchers have repeatedly warned against.
Over the course of her tenure, Rhee:
- Over-emphasized standardized student testing and scores as the be-all and end-all of school and teacher quality. (See the Economic Policy Institute’s Aug. 27 report “Problems with the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers.”)
- Failed to understand the importance of community and relationships, and marginalized dedicated and knowledgeable