Michelle Rhee gets transparent about teacher firings

Friday, August 6, 2010

Regarding the Aug. 5 Metro story "Union faults Rhee's math in teacher firings":

D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) recently completed its first full year of a new and thorough teacher assessment system. This system, which uses classroom observations and objective data about student performance, is designed to help the District reach one of its most important goals: ensuring an effective teacher for every student.

There has been controversy over exactly how many school-based staff members are being let go this summer because of low performance ratings. DCPS released a number based on based on the total subject to termination through mid-August.

It included ineffective teachers and minimally effective teachers who will be terminated based on rules in our groundbreaking teachers' contract. Even though all the terminations had not yet occurred, we wanted to be transparent about the extent of changes in personnel that will occur before the beginning of the school year.

The Washington Teachers' Union is focused on the number of teachers who were let go in July. These numbers will not match the final total, and the union has good reason to emphasize smaller numbers.

DCPS's approach to managing human capital is a radically different one for a school system. But we are confident it will get us strong teachers. It's my job to make sure that happens, and I stand by these decisions.

Michelle Rhee, Washington

The writer is chancellor of the D.C. Public Schools.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company