7/1/07

Not the face of DC schools that activists want

If Michelle Rhee can suffer fools gladly, then she just may be the D.C. schools chancellor. Tomorrow she will be going before the D.C. Council to be confirmed.

She may be confirmed but if the vote were taken now it would be close. For one thing, Rhee apparently hasn't lined up many people to testify on her behalf. If this is true, she can expect to have a lot of hostile witnesses--and thus give the council "evidence" that there is widespead opposition to her. She may--naively--believe that her confirmation hearing is about the job she would do.

A few random thoughts:

1) In a city in which power is more important than performance, the D.C. Council may be ready to show whippersnapper mayor Adrian M. Fenty that it is boss. Fenty surprised the council by firing superintendent Clifford Janey and selecting Rhee without consulting it. Fenty kept Janey on the line from late last year when he announced he was going to take over the schools, then abruptly cut him off a few hours before he gained control over the schools. Fenty has already pulled this gag a few times on the council (the selection of the police chief-a white female--without consulting others also upset many people) so this may be the time that the council tries to put him in his place.

2) In a city where race is more important than results, Rhee may have a tough time getting support from activists. Based on chatter from talk radio and from community activists, there is going to be a pushback against Rhee before the council is expected to vote on July 10. Several people have noted that Rhee may not be able to run a school system in which a majority of the students are black. According to an e-mail I received a while back, the DC chapter of the NAACP allegedly will investigate Rhee and create a system to monitor the promises made in the take over legislation. I didn't realize the NAACP-DC would engage in such activity and wonder what took them so long, considering the long-term failure of the school system. I suppose it took appointing an Asian woman to head the school system to get them off their butts...

3) In a city where the above is true, then it will be tough for the council to vote "yes" for Rhee and give Fenty another victory. But then, if there is evil genius to Fenty and not just power-grabbing as it appears, Fenty would also be putting the council in a tough position. They could end up looking like pandering racists if they do reject Rhee. That may be why the council members are questioning Rhee's resume...

CJL

The photo above is courtesy of DC Watch.
Today's Washington Post has an in-depth feature on Rhee. I will point out that the cutline below the photo is wrong--unless they held the news conference yesterday, it is probably a photo from June, not from "this month."