Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

March 26, 2009


Gary Imhoff, DC Watch - Harry Jaffe writes in The Examiner . . . that, "The public school system in the nation's capital is heading toward extinction." This follows the audited report of DC Public Schools' latest enrollment figures, reported by Bill Turque on the Post's web site: "Enrollment for the 2008-09 academic year stands at 45,190, down 8.5 percent from last year's 49,422. That figure has spiraled steadily downward, to 80,000 in 1980 and to 67,000 in 2000.

An anonymous commentator to Jaffe's article on the Examiner's web site expands on the subject: "This is what she [Chancellor Rhee] was hired to do. Go around the country bashing teachers, get the national attention, demonstrate how little she knows of teaching and learning, fire, hire, fire principals, get rid of veteran teachers, create a national fight with the union, fail to create an educational plan, pay children to behave and to attend school, allow violence to escalate and you wonder why parents move their children to charter schools. Her job has been easy. Anyone can tear down. It takes skill to build."

The continuing flight of students of DC's public schools is the true measure of Rhee's success or failure. If making DC public schools good enough to attract more students and to build the public school system was Rhee's mission from Mayor Fenty, then she is failing spectacularly. If, on the other hand, her mission was to drive students away from public schools in order to dismantle the system as much and as quickly as possible, she has been a great success.


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