This has been a long time coming. The DC School System’s performance has been the fodder of conservative racial grist for years, ignoring the fact that for a number of those years Republicans controlled the House which controls the City’s Laws and Budget. Mayor Adrian Fenty, one of a new generation of black elected politicians, made a controversial choice to hire a releative unknown, Michelle Rhee as Superintendant of the City’s Schools.
Rhee has shaken things up, and that is beginning to pay dividends…
DC School Superintendent Michelle Rhee and Mayor Adrian Fenty
Test scores suggest the new D.C. school model is working
Analysis of the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, better known as the national report card, showed significant progress during the past two years in student reading skills. Fourth-graders — and this does not include those in public charter schools — gained about six points on a 500-point scale, and eighth-graders gained four points. Of the 11 urban school systems that administered the exam, only the District registered significant improvement at both grade levels. The eighth-grade growth outpaced the average growth in the nation, while fourth-grade growth trailed only that in Houston.
D.C. schools still score well below the national average. “We still have a ridiculously long way to go,” Ms. Rhee said. But the changes she is bringing to the troubled system are beginning to make a difference.
Some who questioned Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s takeover of the schools or his selection and steadfast support of Ms. Rhee are beginning to reconsider. Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, had reservations about mayoral control, but — as he writes on the opposite page today — his careful study of the past three years convinces him that the gains achieved under mayoral control are not accidental. Ms. Rhee has been controversial, in some cases gratuitously and in some cases inevitably, given her commitment to change. But, as Mr. Casserly writes, she has made a positive difference for children, which is in the end what matters.