October 20, 2010
by Tammy Drennan, NEO Senior Writer
Michelle Rhee took a lot of flak trying to reform Washington, D.C., schools. Now she's out. The political machine that governs not only the city but its schools has changed gears. The mayor who hired Ms. Rhee lost his primary bid to run again and the new candidate, a pretty sure shoo-in for mayor, isn't interested in keeping the school chancellor, so she resigned. Ms. Rhee hopes, she says, that the reforms she instigated will continue even after she's gone.
This is the way the world of education reform turns. A person who is making a difference is dependent on the politicians in power in order to keep making a difference. Few reformers last long enough to institute permanent turn-arounds.
If education rested in the hands of parents and in the hands of providers who were directly serving parents, the story would be quite different, as it is with most private schools.
It's all about who's in charge. When government is in charge, there is uncertainty and inconsistency. Changes are made based not on what works but on who is in power. When parents are in charge, there is vigilance and accountability.
Whatever we end up doing with these facts, the facts and the natural consequences of them remain true.