School & District Management

Is Michelle Rhee in Trouble?

October 09, 2009 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The hard-charging District of Columbia schools chancellor is used to causing turbulence, but she is drawing the fiercest fire of her two-year tenure this week after she ordered the layoffs of nearly 400 school employees, more than half of them teachers. Yesterday, thousands of teachers and labor supporters swarmed the Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington to demonstrate against the chancellor and her decision to dismiss 229 teachers, a move she says is necessary to plug a $40 million hole in the school district’s budget. The Washington Teachers Union has also filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court seeking to stop the layoffs.

Yesterday’s protest was striking for its large turnout, and the high-profile labor leaders it drew, including American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and the president of the AFL-CIO, Richard L. Trumka.

So Rhee, who for more than a year has been promising to deliver a “revolutionary” teachers contract that would upend decades of labor tradition in public school systems, finds herself in the spotlight for labor strife, not labor progress.

What remains very unclear, and DD can’t help but agree with some of the protesters on this one, is how Rhee was able to hire 900 new teachers over the summer only to discover a budget shortfall so huge, she had to get rid of 229 teachers a month into the school year. Is the budget gap really just a ruse to oust teachers, especially veterans that Rhee and her principals don’t like, as the WTU contends? Or, perhaps even more troubling, is there a problem with managing budgets on her team that is supposed to be stacked with smart, Blackberry-wielding whipper snappers?

Photo credit: Mark Gail/The Washington Post/AP

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.

Events

Special Education Webinar Reading, Dyslexia, and Equity: Best Practices for Addressing a Threefold Challenge
Learn about proven strategies for instruction and intervention that support students with dyslexia.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Personalized Learning Webinar
No Time to Waste: Individualized Instruction Will Drive Change
Targeted support and intervention can boost student achievement. Join us to explore tutoring’s role in accelerating the turnaround. 
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools
Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Social-Emotional Learning: Making It Meaningful
Join us for this event with educators and experts on the damage the pandemic did to academic and social and emotional well-being.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion To Have a Bigger Impact, Here's What You Should Stop Doing in Your Classroom or School
Teachers and leaders often want to lighten their load, but don't know where to start.
6 min read
shutterstock 1051475696
Shutterstock
School & District Management Opinion The Pandemic May Have Eased, But There's No Going Back for Districts
Now's the time to rethink how to address—and solve—problems in education, explain several education leaders.
20 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
School & District Management Someone Spread an Unfounded Rumor About Your School. Here's What to Do Next
Hoaxes have become more pervasive as political tensions rise in schools.
6 min read
Two male leaders squeezing and destroy the word "hoax" in a vice.
Illustration by Gina Tomko/Education Week and Getty
School & District Management ACLU Texas Files OCR Complaint Over a District's Anti-Trans Book Ban
The group claims the Keller school district's new policy to remove books about gender fluidity from library shelves violates federal law.
4 min read
Banned books are visible at the Central Library, a branch of the Brooklyn Public Library system, in New York City on Thursday, July 7, 2022. The books are banned in several public schools and libraries in the U.S., but young people can read digital versions from anywhere through the library. The Brooklyn Public Library offers free membership to anyone in the U.S. aged 13 to 21 who wants to check out and read books digitally in response to the nationwide wave of book censorship and restrictions.
Banned books are on diplay at the Central Library, a branch of the Brooklyn Public Library system, in New York City on Thursday, July 7, 2022. Some of these books are among those banned by school districts in Texas.
Ted Shaffrey/AP