Super Who?

Michele Rhee is famous, or in a growing number of eyes, infamous, for implementing a corporate education reform agenda in Washington DC's schools. A significant part of her plan, as it is with corporate education reformers, was to fire teachers. Lots and lots of teachers.

NEWSWEEK did a cover story a few months ago asking why we can't fire bad teachers. Today Washington, D.C., Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee proved that you can, announcing plans to fire 300 of the district’s 4,000 teachers based on poor performance or licensing issues.

Another 729 teachers will be notified that they have been identified as "minimally effective," according to a new evaluation system Rhee put into effect, meaning that they will not get their scheduled step raise and will have only one year to take advantage of professional-development resources to pull up their performance score or face firing next year. If most of those teachers fail to significantly bump up their performance, the D.C. system could see as many as a quarter of its teachers fired within two years, a prospect Rhee described as "daunting."

We'll sidestep the observation that many have that it's "difficult to fire teachers", when this story demonstrates it was pretty easy to fire 6% of the DC schools teachers in one fell swoops and put another 20% on the chopping block. Instead, let's see what all this firing brought the district. In an Op-Ed this weekend, in the Washington Post, Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, and former Rhee booster, mentioned the newly release NAEP scores for the district

The bad news, however, is that graduation rates are still low, and achievement gaps between the rich and poor sections of town remain vast. Despite the NAEP achievement gains, scores are still among the lowest in the nation’s major city school systems. An analysis by my organization also indicates that the D.C. public schools score well below what one would expect statistically, compared with other cities with similar poverty, language, race, disability and family characteristics. Students show unusual difficulty reading and interpreting texts, evaluating and critiquing information, identifying appropriate measurement instruments, and solving problems involving geometric shapes. There is much more work to be done.

Yes. Rhee fired a lot of teachers, ending their careers - for literally nothing.