Wednesday, October 13, 2010

She's gone. But where?

Not Chicago

Where will Michelle Rhee go, now that she and Mayor Fenty have been given the boot by D.C. voters? Teachers everywhere are holding their collective breath and whispering, "Not here. Not here. Oh please, not here." On the other side sit the corporate reformers, charter school operators, and the power philanthropists praying, "Choose me us. Oh, please choose us." Rhee could possibly bring a gold mine of corporate reform dollars to any school district that would accept her divisiveness in trade.

But, according to Mike DeBonis at the Washington Post, the teachers needn't worry so much. Rhee's not taking another school job. The reason?
"Rhee has already said her work is only possible in school districts with clear lines of command and control -- in other words, no school boards."

Right now that leaves only Chicago and Newark as potential job sites and neither are likely stopovers for Rhee. Writes DeBonis:, Rhee won't be going to work for lame duck Richard M. Daley. The potential of Rhee working for Newark's Cory Booker is more intriguing -- Booker's a politician with Fenty's policy instincts but more political savvy. Which means he'd never grant Rhee the degree of autonomy, of unquestioned continuing support, that Rhee came to expect under Fenty.
Yes, I agree. When Rhee launched her top-down reform in D.C. power philanthropists at the Broad and Walton Family foundations  put $65 million behind it on top of $75 million from Arne Ducan and the Dept. of Education. Both threatened to pull the money out of the district if Fenty was defeated and if Rhee departed--an unprecedented incursion into local politics. Whether or not they can make good on their threats, we shall soon see but that's already enough to scare away Chicago and most other districts.

A more likely scenario, predicts DeBonis, is "a post in the rarefied world of education reform policy."

He's probably right.

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