Leadership Summit 2011 | Michelle Rhee – Students First

Posted on August 12, 2011


“How can we have an education system where 95% of the adults think we’re doing an excellent job, when, in reality, we are only producing an 8% proficiency in math?”

— live notes —

Clips from “Waiting for Superman.

Our theory of change was really to focus on human capital. We needed to ensure that there was an excellent teacher in every classroom, and an excellent principal in every school.

In spite of all the numbers, I tried to create a different culture.

I want a teacher with “snap.” What is “snap?” Teachers who “know” and when you see them in the classroom it’s like magic.

“Value added” is a term that is recently introduced to education. We want to evaluate teachers on how much students are growing. Measure the group of children a teacher is assigned to, at the beginning of the year, and measure them at the end of the year and compare. It also creates a fair system for teachers. Before, if the goal is absolute (e.g. 90% at grade level), well, it’s not fair to set the same mark. But we want to ensure there’s “value add” growth.

I would much rather deal with anger than with apathy.

If you had to do it over again, would you change that fast? Is it a revolution or incrementalism?

Well, I’m not an incremental girl. It’s not appropriate for the context we were in. When we’re failing our children, I didn’t think we could go fast enough.

How do you feel about the district now?

My successor is dynamic, and it will ultimately be in the hands of the city leadership.

There really is no voice that is advocating on the behalf of kids. Thus, www.StudentsFirst.org.

If you just turn your heads to the voices that are the loudest, you will naturally be turning your back on children. Proverbs 31:8, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”