States Are Suddenly Redefining Expectations for Their Teachers

D.C. schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson getting less attention than her predecessor.


In the United States, teachers are rarely fired for being ineffective teachers. A few school districts have tried. Los Angeles and New York City come to mind. But those efforts were swamped by the tight protections granted teachers unions that have the luxury, in many cases, of electing their own contract negotiators. It wasn't even a close contest.

But in D.C. we're seeing Rhee's strategy, holding poor teachers accountable for doing their jobs while rewarding the best teachers, play out over time. Based on my reporting, that strategy appears to be paying off. Not all schools improved under Rhee, but the ones that did, to varying degrees, swapped in better teachers.

Given the reform momentum in other states, the controversial Rhee reforms no longer look so controversial. Which explains why Henderson's firings, an act once considered educational heresy, were greeted mostly with silence.

Perhaps the correction has commenced.

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