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DC Chancellor gives self failing grade

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DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee graded herself an "F" when asked by The Washington Times how she would rate her first 20 months in office.

Political gimmick? Blog-worthy sound bite? A self-deprecating way to curry favor? Or just the cruel reality of what it means to not improve faster, better and at a rate of 100 percent in the world of education?

"If my goal is to provide every child that's in my care an excellent education, we're an F on that," she said. "I want to be evaluated on the quality of education that I'm providing to kids," Rhee said in the Times interview. Despite the numerical benchmarks we've hit over the past two years, we're still a long ways away. "The reality is that we have a 70 percent achievement gap between our white kids and our black kids, Ms. Rhee said."

I believe her when she says that DC will one day be the nation's top-performing urban district. I also want to believe that her "F" is more than just a sound bite-- that it's also a sign that our district's leader will hold herself honestly and publicly accountable for doing what's best for kids.

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I also hope her admission is more than just hype. DC students and their teachers deserve an honest leader. While I admire Rhee's desire for change, perhaps now would be a good time for her to step back from the slash and burn approach to one of more listening, particularly to those educators both in DC and elsewhere who have actually been successful raising achievement for Black students (yes, we do exist, even within some of the most dysfunctinal settings).

RESPONSE:
Dear Renee,
I actually completely agree-- the great leaders I've seen who enact changes quickly are the ones who know when to listen and know when not to. She's a smart woman with smart people all around her. Surely they must be doing a ton of research and gathering this information. But there's so much to be said about actively listening and considering, and doing it in a public way. And you are so, so right-- so many amazing educators do exist in DC and that's what keeps us going. :) Thanks for all you do, Jessica

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