Rhee's Popularity Drops With Fenty's

But residents seem to like some of the changes Rhee's made

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    NBCWashington

    DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee is having a popularity problem, and part of it seems to be tied to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.

    Rhee's approval rating has plummeted "over the past two years, alongside the mayor, despite sentiment among District residents that conditions in the city's long-troubled public education system are starting to improve," the Washington Post reports.

    Just 43 percent of DC residents are satisfied with the job she's doing, while 44 percent are dissatisfied, a new Post poll shows. That's compared to two years ago when 59 percent of residents approved of the job she was doing.

    Rhee's support among African Americans, in particular, has dropped even more.

    Two years ago, 50 percent of black residents backed Rhee, while 38 percent disapproved. Now, just 28 percent approve, with 62 percent dissatisfied. The intensity of African Americans' unhappiness with Rhee's leadership has also grown. The percentage who "strongly disapprove" of her performance has doubled over this period, from 22 percent to 44 percent.

    At the same time, residents like some of the changes Rhee's made to the public school system. The perception of violence or crime in schools as a "big problem" went down from 78 to 65 percent, while parents with children in public school ranked it even lower, at 57 percent.

    Residents were also happier with the quality and availability of books and other instructional materials, rating them as less of a major problem now versus two years ago.

    According to the Post, the poll results underscore how closely Fenty and Rhee are linked in public perceptions and how much of the mayor's political future might be staked on the chancellor's success in turning around the school system.

    Another recent poll by the newspaper shows the mayor's approval rating sank from 72 percent two years ago to 42 percent now, while the number of residents who say he has done a "good" or "excellent" job in improving schools has declined and those ranking his school performance as "poor" has gone up.

    The Post said it polled 1,135 residents last week about Rhee after she made controversial comments to a national news magazine about the 266 teachers she laid off last year.