Michelle Rhee on D.C. Kids' 'Crappy Education'

Schools Chancellor Rhee is national face for education reform.

ByABC News via logo
September 15, 2010, 2:13 PM

Sept. 16, 2010 -- Washington, D.C., Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee does not mince words.

"They are getting a crappy education," Rhee said while discussing the district's schoolchildren in an interview with ABC News. "I mean, you could try to sugar coat it all you want. Subpar, or whatever. But what it is in terms that everyone can understand -- they are getting a crappy education."

It could be comments like that, not to mention aggressive and controversial education policies, that landed Rhee in the spotlight of the new documentary "Waiting for Superman," and could possibly cost her her job.

Rhee, who has become the national face of education reform, could end up jobless after D.C. voters ousted Mayor Adrian Fenty.

Under Rhee's three-year watch, more than 200 teachers have been fired. Almost 20 schools have closed, and pay has been tied to merit evaluations. But test scores have shot up for elementary and secondary school students, and teachers' salaries were raised.

"The situation we inherited three years ago in Washington, D.C., was absolutely deplorable," Rhee said. "People need to understand that and if that makes people uncomfortable, then so be it."

The victor in Tuesday's Democratic primary -- and therefore almost a sure winner come November in this overwhelmingly Democratic city -- is City Council Chairman Vincent Gray, a chief Rhee antagonist at oversight hearings.

Gray has not said he would fire Rhee, but he hasn't said he would keep her on either.

"I have said on many occasions that after this election is over, I'd like to sit down with Michelle Rhee and let us walk and talk through it, you know, how we might work together," Gray said on CNN Tuesday.

Rhee had campaigned for Fenty. The Washington Teacher's Union campaigned for Gray.

"This has been a significant change in direction, and it's going to require me sitting down with Mayor Fenty, the chairman and other people to see what's in the best interests of our kids," Rhee said Wednesday in an interview with MSNBC.