Rhee Says She'll Stay Seven More Years

By Bill Turque and Michael Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, June 19, 2008

Public schools in the District have burned through -- and burned out -- leaders with dreary regularity. Six came and went in the 10 years preceding Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's arrival last June.

Some D.C. public schools observers expect Rhee to follow the same course, perhaps trading up for something in the next presidential administration or the private sector. But Rhee, who marked her first year on the job last week, said she sees herself staying for seven more.

"I'm a serial monogamist, not a job hopper," she told the Notebook over breakfast the other day, citing her 10 years at the New Teacher Project, which she founded and ran before coming to Washington.

Should she stick around for that long, Rhee would rewrite the longevity record for D.C. schools chiefs. Such a lengthy run would also leave her near the top nationally in staying power for the head of an urban school system, where two to three years is the norm.

Rhee said she wants to see through the changes she has attempted to put into play, and she spoke admiringly of Atlanta School Superintendent Beverly L. Hall-- who is entering her ninth year of presiding over a system on the upswing with rising test scores, renovated buildings and improved business operations -- as a standard to reach for.

Cheh in Hot Seat at Bakery

Nearly 20 advocates of reopening Klingle Road flowed through the Firehook Bakery on Connecticut Avenue NW last weekend during D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh's (D-Ward 3) constituent hours, which took place at a sunny pair of tables near the front.

Cheh periodically holds open hours, but these were some of the more contentious, as residents unhappy about her efforts to put the kibosh on reopening the road came to express themselves. The Coalition to Repair and Reopen Klingle Road sent online messages encouraging supporters to visit Cheh at the bakery.

Cheh was patient under fire but unyielding.

"I'm pretty solid where I am, and I'm pretty happy where I am," Cheh told Joe Keyerleber, who lives in Mount Pleasant.

"I don't understand her position at all," Keyerleber said. "This hiker-biker trail is such a myth. It's way too steep!"

Ed Levin, who lives on heavily trafficked Porter Street NW, also came to talk to Cheh.

"In a sense, Mary Cheh was honest when she was running," Levin said. "She said she wanted it closed, but she also said it was a done deal [to reopen it]. Seventy cars sometimes are backed up on Porter Street at rush hour. All those cars are idling. That's not an environmental issue?"

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