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Education Funding Opinion

School Reform Outsider Hired To Run DC Schools

By Alexander Russo — June 12, 2007 5 min read

What to make of today’s announcement that Michelle Rhee, until now honcho of The New Teacher Project, has been appointed to run the DC public school system? It’s an interesting choice, to say the least -- exciting, a little bit nervous-making. Rhee is a standout, there’s no doubt, and has accomplishments coming out of her ears. And she exemplifies the outside-in move that I’ve been whining about these past few months -- a nonprofit mover and shaker moving into the system and building her own experience (and hopefully improving the district), rather than continuing to work from outside. Previous posts:
Can Education Entrepreneurs Crack Public Education?
The Sundance Of School Reform
Somewhat Annoying Latecomers Try New School...
Finding The Hidden Gems In The SystemFounder and CEO of The New Teacher Project Named
Chancellor for Washington, DC Public Schools

Washington, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty Appoints Michelle Rhee Chancellor of DC Public Schools

NEW YORK, NY - The New Teacher Project (TNTP) today announced that founder and chief executive officer Michelle Rhee has accepted the nomination of Washington, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty to become Chancellor of DC Public Schools. Ms. Rhee, whose career in education began as a public school teacher in Baltimore, MD, will step down from her leadership role at The New Teacher Project.

A national nonprofit organization, The New Teacher Project is dedicated to increasing the number of outstanding individuals who become public school teachers and to creating environments for all educators that maximize their impact on student achievement. Michelle Rhee guided TNTP’s growth from an idea to a national organization of over 120 full-time staff members. Since 1997, the organization has launched more than 40 programs in 23 states and recruited, prepared or hired approximately 23,000 new, high-quality teachers for school districts nationwide.

“The schools of the nation’s capital city ought to be among the best in the country,” said Mayor Fenty. “Unfortunately, for far too long, Washington, DC students have had to settle for less. As someone who has spent her career championing school system reform and pursuing innovations that level the playing field for all students, Michelle Rhee shares my vision for the DC public school system and is the ideal person to make that vision a reality.”

Ms. Rhee’s contributions to public education have been widely recognized. She was the recipient of the Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award in 2004, presented for her efforts to confront, challenge and correct social injustice in the United States. In 2007, in recognition of her impact on public education, she was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Peter Jennings Award for Civic Leadership, presented annually by Teach For America to an alumnus who has had a far-reaching and substantial contribution to the effort to improve educational equity in under-resourced areas.

TNTP staff praised the formative role Ms. Rhee played in the organization’s development. “TNTP would not be the organization it is today without Michelle Rhee,” said TNTP Vice President Ariela Rozman. “Over the last 10 years, it has benefited immeasurably from her confident leadership and inspiring vision for America’s public schools.”

TNTP Board Chairwoman Kati Haycock, Director of The Education Trust, celebrated Ms. Rhee’s nomination. “Throughout the course of her career in education, Michelle has proven to be a passionate and determined advocate for the best interests of low income and minority students. Time and again she has refused to give in to those who want to protect the status quo, instead working tirelessly to ensure our schools provide only the best education for the children they serve. Michelle’s appointment as Chancellor is truly a victory for Washington, DC students and their families.”

The New Teacher Project has worked to implement teacher recruitment and retention programs for dozens of school systems around the nation, including Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago. The New Teacher Project specializes in recruiting teachers for critical needs areas, including math and science. Seventy-one percent of the 2006 class of New York City Teaching Fellows are teaching high-need subjects, and 50% of all NYC Teaching Fellows currently teaching in New York City teach high-need subjects.

Ms. Rhee is excited about moving into the new role and also about the continued prospects of The New Teacher Project’s growth and success. “I take on this new challenge with the full confidence that I leave in place a remarkably strong team of talented people who can take the organization to the next level,” Rhee said. One of my proudest accomplishments at The New Teacher Project is having built a team of leaders that can sustain and grow the organization.”

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About The New Teacher Project
The New Teacher Project (TNTP) is a nonprofit consulting organization dedicated to increasing the number of outstanding individuals who become public school teachers and to creating environments for all educators that maximize their impact on student achievement. TNTP strives to accomplish these goals by creating innovative teacher recruitment and hiring programs, identifying the obstacles that school districts face to hiring the best teachers possible, partnering with school districts to optimize their teacher hiring and school staffing functions, and developing new and better ways to prepare and certify teachers.

Since 1997, TNTP has recruited, prepared or certified approximately 23,000 high-quality teachers, worked with over 200 school districts, and established more than 40 programs in 23 states. TNTP has also published two major studies on teacher hiring and school staffing in urban areas: Missed Opportunities: How We Keep High-Quality Teachers Out of Urban Classrooms (2003) and Unintended Consequences: The Case for Reforming the Staffing Rules in Urban Teachers Union Contracts (2005). Among others, TNTP’s clients include the school districts of Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Memphis, Miami, New York, Oakland, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC and the states of Louisiana and Texas. For more information, please visit www.tntp.org.

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