The Grown Ups Are Alright. The Kids, Less So.


When Adrian Fenty lost the Democratic primary for mayor of Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee somewhat intemperately said this:

"Yesterday's election results were devastating, devastating. Not for me, because I'll be fine, and not even for Fenty, because he'll be fine, but devastating for the schoolchildren of Washington, D.C."

She semi-apologized later, but she was right.

Rhee has since appeared on Oprah and founded a new organization, StudentsFirst. Fenty is doing ed reform victory laps, picking up a gig advising language learning company Rosetta Stone and a visiting professor slot at Oberlin.

As for D.C. schoolkids, they're getting back a ton of the crappy teachers Rhee managed to get rid of:

An independent arbitrator in Montgomery County has ordered the District of Columbia Public Schools to rehire 75 teachers who were fired in 2008 by former Chancellor Michelle Rhee for, among other things, being AWOL from school for weeks at a time, not preparing lesson plans, cursing at students, poor classroom management and high levels of student failure. Nathan Saunders, head of the Washington Teachers' Union, expects that 80 more probationary teachers fired by Rhee on similar grounds in 2009 likewise will be reinstated. All will be given full back pay and compensation from their termination dates.

The decision to reinstate doesn't turn on whether the teachers deserved to be fired—all were recommended for termination by their principals—but on the finer points of union protocol. Rhee failed to formally inform the teachers of the reason they were fired, though one imagines she made it pretty clear that it was for sucking. In fact, she got in pretty big trouble at the time for telling Fast Company exactly what the firings were about:

"I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school," Rhee says. "Why wouldn't we take those things into consideration?"

Lots more about Rhee here.