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Michelle Rhee Talks School Reform with Online Audience

Over the weekend, folks got to read Marc Fisher's take on Michelle A. Rhee, but today, the District of Columbia schools chancellor spoke directly to her public in a live chat on washingtonpost.com.

There were lots of plaudits for the chancellor from chatters who admire her moxie, and numerous queries, most of them supportive, about Rhee's stance on getting rid of teachers who are ineffective. (By the way, Rhee really likes exclamation points!)

One tidbit that caught our attention (it was her response to the very first question about what she's doing to use strong teachers already in the district as models for struggling teachers) was Rhee's news that her team is creating an online professional development portal where teachers can watch video clips of their colleagues who've been identified as the best at work in the classroom. She also heard from several parents with children in high-performing elementary schools who are nervous about sending them onto middle and high school.

But as we were following along here at DD, we couldn't help but notice a few "elephant in the room" issues that weren't addressed. Did no one think to ask Rhee about the possible cheating scandal in a handful of schools? Or how about pressing the chancellor harder on the district's budget shortfall and her recent announcement that she would lay off teachers by the end of October even though she hired 900 new teachers over the summer?

It's hard to imagine that those questions weren't posed, but as the guest chatter, Rhee has the right to choose which ones to answer and which ones to ignore.

Luckily, Rhee was kind enough to offer her email address to everyone to send along the burning inquiries that she ran out of time to answer. For those of you who don't already have it: [email protected].


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