Michelle Rhee announced this morning that she has resigned as Chancellor of Washington D.C. Public Schools, effective at the end of the month. Over the course of the past three and a half years, Rhee has been an extraordinary witness to hope for education reformers across the country, and she has done more than almost anyone else to draw attention to the unprecedented crisis facing our nation’s inner city schools.
I’m sure that a lively debate will now begin about how history will remember her time as Chancellor, as well as what her next step will be. In the midst of that clamor, its important to remember that it was Michelle Rhee, the appointed administrator of one the most under-performing and mismanaged urban school districts in the country, who had the courage to defend the Opportunity Scholarship Program, the only federally funded voucher program in the United States – a program which benefits hundreds of Catholic school families in the District, and which is sadly now slated for termination. In the face of serious pressure from her opposition, Rhee had the courage to defend a program that benefited the children of her district, regardless of its political risk.