Michelle Rhee, the controversial former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor, will speak at the Kimmel Center on Nov. 7 as part of the Philadelphia Speakers Series. If you could ask her one question, what would it be?
Michelle Rhee, the controversial former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor, will speak at the Kimmel Center on Nov. 7 as part of the Philadelphia Speakers Series.
If you could ask her one question, what would it be? Tell us in the comments below, and we’ll relay the question to WHYY’s Tracey Matisak, who will conduct the Q&A session with Rhee following her speech.
Rhee has drawn much attention to the school reform movement in her career. As chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, it was her task to improve a failing urban district.
Her term saw a sharp rise in reading and math scores for D.C. students, and she earned the district $75 million in federal grants from the Obama administration’s Race to the Top initiative. However, her methods—including dramatic changes to teacher evaluation criteria, mass firings of teachers of administrators, and school closings—caused controversy.
Local and national teacher unions fought her changes. And some people note that her reforms left significant achievement gaps between high-performing and low-performing schools, and between white and African-American students, which heightened ethnic and class tensions in the community.
It’s widely believed that Adrian Fenty, the mayor of Washington, D.C., who appointed her to chancellor, lost his re-election bid in 2010 in part due to his support of her methods. Following his loss, she resigned amidst falling public-approval ratings and allegations of standardized test cheating in 2008.
Since then she launched StudentsFirst, an organization whose main objective is to raise $1 billion to oppose teachers unions.
The speaker series is sponsored by Widener University. WHYY/NewsWorks is the media partner.