Michelle Rhee takes out the knife

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From the Washingtonian.com piece on Michelle Rhee, the chancellor of DC schools, there is a quote that stood out from the rest of the piece as the primary dilemma that Rhee and Mayor Fenty are trying to stare down:

“She’s got all the right ideas, a wonderful attitude, and she’s open,” says Mary Levy, an authority on school governance with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. “I worry about her being undercut or overwhelmed.”

It seems that Ms. Levy need not worry.

Fenty and Rhee first sought authority from the D.C. Council to reclassify over half of the 700 non-union positions in the Central District Office, making them “at-will”–i.e., now she could fire them. And that is just what happened. She just cut 98 employees.

Look, cutting down on staff is not great work. But when the need for change is great (and it is great in the DC schools), and when the people around you don’t want change, you have to change the people.

If you think that need for change is only in DC, consider the findings of a recent Massachusetts DOE report that only 51 percent of education funding goes to instruction. Much of the remaining 49 percent goes to central administration and non-instructional programming. Perhaps some of our urban superintendents might take a harder look at what Rhee is doing as she advances innovation and the establishment of a “culture of accountability”.

There are more changes to come in DC, including Rhee noted the possibility of more firings. Rhee is serious. Are we?