January 13th, 2009

Michelle Rhee in Washington, DC
Michelle Rhee in Washington DC Episode 8: Finding Good Principals

This program was made by possible by support from the Annenberg, The Eli and Edythe Broad, Bill & Melinda Gates, William and Flora Hewlett and Wallace Foundations.

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Can a failing school system be reformed just by hiring the “right people”? Michelle Rhee seems to think so. She replaced 40 school principals over the summer and is counting on her new team to turn the schools around. She also closed 23 under-enrolled schools, relocating about 3,000 students and 400 teachers, resulting in big changes throughout the city.

We met up with Darrin Slade, the principal of Ron Brown Middle School, to see how he was coping with the influx of students that doubled the number of students he’s responsible for. Principal Slade gave us a glimpse into the strategies he uses to maintain order in the hallways and increase performance in the classroom.

But will his efforts be enough to secure his job next year? Slade may be “the right person” now but if test scores don’t increase by the end of the year, he might lose his job.

(Originally aired January 13, 2009)

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You can watch the entirety of the Michelle Rhee series here:

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Darrin Slade should me more concerned about his school’s pupils learning and being educated well enough to get a good job someday, rather than being concerned about keeping his job. He voluntarily choose the teaching profession. The teaching profession did not choose him. He needs to put first things first. The students are what come first. Schools exist for one reason and one reason only … and that is to educate its students. The school does not exist in order for Darrin Slade to have a job.

If Darrin Slade is not successful as a principal/teacher, then he should try another profession. I hope that, if Darrin finds himself in another profession someday, he will take the time to learn that he must realize that his employer sets the goals that he must reach. If he fails to make that realization then he will most certainly be looking for a new job again.

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