Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

Mayor-elect Gray promotes another Rheeformer

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Meet the new interim D.C. Schools chancellor, Kaya Henderson.

    Kevin Welner got his wish: Michelle Rhee's out of there.

    On Tuesday, Answer Sheet columnist Valerie Strauss handed over her Washington Post page to Welner, professor of education policy at the University of Colorado at Boulder and director of the National Education Policy Center. Welner blasted Rhee -- along with New York City Department of Education Chancellor Joel Klein and education czars from 14 other school districts -- over a manifesto they published in Sunday's Outlook section of the Post.

    Welner perceived that they focused single-mindedly on teachers, blaming them to the exclusion of superintendents and elected officials -- who are mentioned in the story but then dropped.

    The headline for Welner's guest column read, "'Manifesto' should be resignation letter.'" But if he was unhappy with Rhee, he's probably not much more pleased today, now that Mayor-elect Vincent Gray has announced her interim replacement: Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson.

    Rhee Announces She's Leaving DCPS

    [DC] Rhee Announces She's Leaving DCPS
    Michelle Rhee says she's leaving D.C. Public Schools.

    Henderson is "completely in tune with Rhee on the fundamentals of education reform, especially the belief that teacher quality is the most important determinant of student success," Post education reporter Bill Turque said.

    Before becoming deputy chancellor, Henderson served as the Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at The New Teacher Project. There, she worked to improve teacher hiring for school districts by overseeing a process-, policy- and capacity-building perspective, according to her bio on the DCPS website. The New Teacher Project, a nonprofit for recruiting teachers, was founded by Rhee. And like Rhee, Henderson also worked for Teach for America.

    Henderson was Rhee's first hire -- appointed the same day that Rhee was named schools Chancellor. Inasmuch as Rhee was Klein's protege, Henderson is Rhee's protege. So one of Mayor-elect Gray's first staffing decisions will be to promote another Rheeformer.

    "She is an absolutely unbelievable candidate," Rhee said. She said that she has known Henderson "for the better part of my professional career."

    Rhee said that Henderson's hire "should put any fears aside about what reform will look like under the Gray administration.

    "The reforms will continue," she said.

    During a press conference with Chancellor Rhee and Mayor Adrian Fenty, Mayor-elect Gray introduced interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson.

    "We cannot and will not revert to the days of incrementalism in our schools," Mayor-elect Gray said.

    He has put one restriction on the interim Chancellor: Gray has asked her to keep the D.C. Public Schools senior leadership team in place for the rest of the year. He has also asked her to appear with him at his upcoming town halls.

    As for Rhee, she may have given a few hints about her next steps. Given the national attention she has achieved as a reformer and her recent spotlight in the Davis Guggenheim education documentary Waiting for Superman, Rhee's choice or words resonate. She said that her goal is to continue to "serve the children of this nation" and said that she will be "serving America's children in [her] next role as well."