Global Leadership Summit 2011 – Michelle Rhee

Students First

Movie called “Waiting for Superman” tells her story

Out of college she signed up for “Teach For America” and ended up teaching her first year in Baltimore. Proficiency scores went from 13% to 90% After 3 years she went to get her Master’s from Harvard. She started working on how to get more talented teachers to come into inner-city school districts.

Eventually she ended up as the Chancellor of the D.C. school district. She made sweeping changes including removing 2/3rd of the Principals in the district. She closed 23 schools immediately. She cut the administrative staff by over half. She started measuring teachers with a “value-added” process that bases their performance solely on the growth of the kids in their class.
She also thought about everything through this filter: Her own kids were going to be attending these D.C. schools. How much time could she afford to give under-performing teachers to be brought up through professional development? Would she accept having a an under-performing teacher in her kids classroom? Absolutely not! She did not think incremental change is what was necessary in Washington, D.C.

Personal Insight: Best thing Michelle said about her story: “I’d rather deal with anger than apathy.”
Absolutely necessary change is absolutely hard! If you determine what you are willing to do based on fear of those who are going to yell at you, stop and look at who it is that is yelling at you! And then read this verse: Proverbs 31:8-9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” I heard what she said about how she is not someone who lets what other people think affect her at all. She is more concerned with doing what she knows is right. I am challenged to die more to myself and my proclivity to be liked by everyone all the time. I am a people-pleaser and it is too safe – I will add to my daily prayer list that I might truly decrease so that Christ may increase.


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