Rhee leaving as D.C. schools chancellor

Michelle Rhee is leaving her job as D.C. schools chancellor at the end of the month, The Washington Examiner has learned.

Moving up, at least on an interim basis, will be Kaya Henderson, Rhee’s top deputy. Henderson follow Rhee over in 2007 from the New Teacher Project, an organization that recruits educators to work in urban public schools across the country, including D.C., New York, Atlanta, Baltimore and Chicago.

Rhee was appointed in 2007 by Mayor Adrian Fenty, who allowed her freedom to exercise reforms unseen in D.C.’s historically failing public school system. The new contract Rhee negotiated with the Washington Teacher’s Union effectively eliminated tenure and allowed her to fire about 240 teachers rated ineffective on classroom evaluations.

Rhee’s departure, should not come as a surprise. Rhee strongly suggested in July that she would quit if D.C. Council Chairman Vince Gray won the Democratic mayoral nomination.

Her take-no-prisoners approach earned Rhee the respect of many fed up with the system and a title line in Paramount Pictures’ documentary “Waiting for Superman,” which explored broken school systems and painted Rhee as a heroine of reform.

But her actions also incensed the D.C. teacher’s union, whose parent union threw $1 million at the Gray’s mayoral campaign, and the primary became a referendum on Rhee’s reforms, with many voting against Fenty because they sided with the teachers.

Henderson was appointed alongside Rhee and has cooperated in her reform efforts. But sources say there are important differences between the two: Henderson is a good friend of Washington Teacher’s Union President George Parker, and is also African-American; critics often called out Fenty for appointing mostly white and Asian officials to his top posts.

Henderson has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Georgetown University.

Robert Bobb, former president of the D.C. school board, said Henderson is “very smart, knows her way around the District, and understands education reform.”

“She’s tough minded, and from what I’ve seen she’s capable of holding people accountable without crushing them,” Bobb said.

Adrian FentyBeltway ConfidentialMichelle RheeUS

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Crab fisherman Skip Ward of Marysville casts his crab net out off a pier near Fort Point. (Craig Lee/Special to The	Examiner)
San Francisco came back to life, and we captured it all

Last spring, in the early days of the pandemic, the bestselling authors… Continue reading

Revelers at Madrone Art Bar in the early hours of June 15, 2021 (Courtesy Power Quevedo).
No social distancing at Motown-themed dance party

‘I don’t care how anyone feels, I just want to dance!’

Scenes from an SFO-bound BART train on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, the day California fully reopened for business after the COVID pandemic. (Al Saracevic/SF Examiner)
SF reopens: BART riders dreading the end of the pandemic

‘I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be packed like sardines’

High noon in Union Square: Ten Canyon High School (Anaheim, CA) graduates, Class of 2021, on a senior trip in San Francisco. They weren’t certain of City rules so they remained masked outdoors. Even though one of their personal vehicles was broken into while touring Golden Gate Park, they appreciated the beauty of San Francisco. (Catherine Bigelow/The Examiner)
Signs of life: From Union Square style to Portola soul

‘The return of this icon is thrilling’

Most Read