Adrian Fenty

Liberals Should Vote Centrist in Local Elections

Why you'll miss the age of the imperial centrist mayor

Why Liberals will miss Michael Bloomberg and the era's other imperial centrist mayors

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How Michelle Rhee Misled Education Reform

A memoir illustrates what's wrong with her brand of school reform

"Michelle Rhee simply isn't interested in reasoning forward from evidence to conclusions: Conclusions are where she starts, which means her book cannot be trusted."

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Rheeconsideration

The mantra goes, “You either love or hate Michelle Rhee.” In the education world, there is no figure as polarizing as the former chancellor of Washington, D.C.’s public schools, who famously warred with the city’s teachers’ union and left abruptly when her boss, Mayor Adrian Fenty, lost reelection last year. Since then, she has started an organization called StudentsFirst to push for education reform nationwide. She announced the group in a Newsweek cover story, and it raised more than $700,000 in its first week.

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Black Lash

The education reform movement has taken some heavy blows recently. Washington, D.C. lost its excellent schools chancellor, Michelle Rhee, the reform movement’s poster child, after her employer, Mayor Adrian Fenty, failed to win a second term—in part because teachers’ unions, unhappy with Rhee, shelled out $1 million to defeat the incumbent.

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After months of speculation, former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee today is unveiling her next move. On this afternoon’s episode of “Oprah” and in this week’s Newsweek, Rhee is announcing the launch of an education advocacy organization called StudentsFirst. (The group’s website also went live this morning). Rhee is dubbing it a “national movement,” with headquarters online, but a source tells me she will be working out of Sacramento, where her new husband Kevin Johnson is mayor. Her office for the time being, I’m told, will be at conservative-leaning Mercury, a p.r.

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The Washington Post is reporting that D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee will resign at the end of October. The news isn’t a surprise: When Adrian Fenty, who appointed Rhee, lost the Democratic mayoral primary last month, many attributed his loss—at least in part—to his hard-charging chancellor.

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The District of Columbia has a lot going for it, even during the recession: population continued to grow, at least from 2006 to 2008; incomes went up; there were fewer murders in 2009 than any year since 1966, and there are signs that the District’s troubled public schools are starting to improve. Moreover, including its surrounding counties, in 2008 the D.C. metro was the most highly educated large metropolitan area in the country, which helps explain why its unemployment rate is one of the lowest. But that good news has a serious downside: Long-time residents of D.C.

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What would public schools in Washington, D.C., be like without Michelle Rhee? It’s the big question of the day, after incumbent Adrian Fenty lost the Democratic nomination for mayor to city council Chairman Vincent Gray on Tuesday. It was Fenty who appointed the hard-charging, reform-minded Rhee. Before the election, Rhee hinted that she might leave her job if Gray won and became mayor (as he is all but certain to do, since there’s currently no Republican opponent to face in the November general election).

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In the wake of D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty’s loss to Vincent Gray last night, many of Washington’s political and media elite turned out for the red-carpet premiere of Waiting for Superman, a much-hyped documentary about education reform in America. It was interesting timing, to say the least: One of the film’s big stars is Michelle Rhee. The movie depicts her as a savior of schools and someone willing to make tough decisions others have bypassed. But, as I wrote earlier today, it’s not clear whether Rhee will have her job as chancellor of D.C.

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Ezra Klein argues, "If you were looking to disprove the view that campaigns are primarily about how well the economy is doing and whether objective conditions are getting better or worse, you couldn't do much better than Adrian Fenty's loss last night." I'm not so sure. It's certainly true that Fenty, the now-outgoing Washington D.C. mayor, alienated key constituencies and generally ignored the politics of reelection.

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