Hip, hip, hoo-Rhee

Michelle Rhee, the District of Columbia's dynamic new schools chancellor, is already impressing parents, teachers, and the ever-cynical media with her no-nonsense style (she wants to fire bureaucrats and slim down the central office) and refreshing sense of urgency. Washington Post columnist Colbert King thinks she's ready to take on the city's "central-office hydra" with her "feistiness, a gift for fancy footwork and a good head for the urban fight game, all of which should keep her standing, at least for a while." His colleague, columnist Marc Fisher, seems equally impressed with her honesty: "Rhee is telling it straight: This thing is broken, period." Furthermore, parents "nearly swoon" at her impatience with mindless bureaucracy. "I am going to kick down the barriers," Rhee told Fisher. To be sure, both King and Fisher have been around the block; they've witnessed the system swallow six other superintendents in 10 years. And no doubt, the real task of improving student achievement is yet to come. But if leadership is about creating momentum for change and a hopeful vision of a better future, Rhee is heading in the right direction.

"Rhee vs. the Central-Office Hydra," by Colbert I. King, Washington Post, August 18, 2007

"Three Reasons to Cheer for Rhee's Fast Start," by Marc Fisher, Washington Post, August 28, 2007