Burning bridges in D.C. and tires in Kabul
Today it's D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and the bonfire of the Korans. Admittedly, unrelated topics. Think of this as a two-fer.
The following words appeared in Robert McCartney's Post column this week about newly elected Democratic mayoral nominee Vincent Gray and Rhee: "If he's going to pull the city together, then Gray needs to reach out quickly to the Rhee supporters, most of whom are white, who opposed him. The fastest way to do that is to make clear he's open to leaving her as chancellor."
I respectfully disagree.
Gray should not keep Rhee on the job to please her supporters, "most of whom are white." Neither should he ask Rhee to leave in order to please her opponents, many of whom are African American.
Rhee's polarizing behavior is the reason her fate is in question.
Unlike any of her peers in urban school districts or, probably, superintendents of most school districts in the country, Rhee chose to campaign openly for a candidate in a political race. If that weren't bad enough, Rhee went to an area of the city where most of her "supporters" reside and made it known that she wanted D.C. Council Chairman Gray to be defeated in the mayoral race.
She did her best to take her fate out of Gray's hands.
Under the circumstances, Rhee should have done the honorable thing after the election results came in and tendered her resignation to be effective upon Gray's acceptance.
Instead, she chose to further thumb her nose at Gray, telling a Newseum audience Wednesday night that his victory was "devastating for the schoolchildren of Washington, D.C." Good judgment has never been her strong suit.
Nonetheless, Gray graciously reached out to her after the election, and now a meeting is set for next week.
The chances seem slim that Rhee will tell Gray she wants to stick around and that she will respect his authority as mayor and her boss. But if she does, the two could discuss education reform, review their respective priorities and explore questions of parental involvement and community inclusion in policymaking. If they are on the same page, Rhee stays. If not, then work out a suitable time for her departure.
Gray and Rhee should aim toward an outcome that is beneficial to D.C. public school students. But whatever is done should not be done to gain favor with a racial group that either supports or opposes Rhee.