In case you missed PBS Frontline's hour-long segment on Michelle Rhee's tenure as chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, I'm making a plug for everyone to watch it. I finally did and found it startlingly moving.
John Merrow did an exceptional piece of journalism here that was quite fair. I could see why Rhee was called to action, why she felt so strongly about making sweeping change, and why people like Mayor Fenti were inclined to give her a lot of power. I also saw clearly where she went wrong, the damage her decisions caused, and her less than caring response to the damage.
A few thoughts I had were
- This is what happens when we try to apply a simplistic business model to education
- This is what happens when one person's leadership goes unchecked
- This is what happens when appointed leaders attempt to make change through hierarchical structures without listening to other voices and building community support
- This is what happens when test scores are viewed as measures of teaching and learning
- This is what happens when people think they can solve problems by scaring people, instead of addressing the causes of the problems
The details are stunning and the hour it takes to watch the whole thing is well worth it.
Watch it by clicking here: http://video.pbs.org/video/2323979463
[below is a screenshot of Michelle Rhee and John Merrow]
Here is a follow up post written by John Merrow and Frontline's Phil Bennett, in response to accusations from current D.C. Chancellor Kaya Henderson and another commentor that the segment was unfair.