Michelle Rhee: Radical Reformer of Schools (A)

Is Michelle Rhee, the controversial chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools, a successful change agent?

Todd Jick  | Fall 2019
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In 2007 Michelle Rhee became chancellor of the Washington, D.C., public schools. A Korean–American from suburban Ohio with several years of experience as a classroom teacher and educational reformer, Rhee had attended private schools and never before run a school district. A self-described “change agent”, Rhee determined the core operational areas that needed fixing, and accomplished her short-term objectives: filling principal vacancies and readying schools to open on Opening Day. However, the community organized against Rhee as she set out to accomplish her longer term goals, including the closing of poor-performing schools, the firing of ineffective central office union employees, and the elimination of teacher tenure. This two-part case asks students to consider effective ways to transform a large, complex organization with many stakeholders.

Case ID: 200402

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