Loose Lips

Splitsville! Gray Gets Custody of the Kids, Rhee Gets to Keep the National Reputation

Michelle Rhee Resigns

By now we all know that Almost Mayor Vince Gray and Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee have amicably broken up and decided that Gray gets to keep the kids. Rhee said at a news conference this morning at a swanky ballroom of the Mayflower Hotel that she's "heartbroken" to leave, but feels that it is in the city's best interest that she go.

Rhee said that she and Gray decided together that "the best way to keep the reforms going is for this reformer to step aside."

When asked about her future, Rhee joked about spending some more time in Sacramento (where her soon-to-be-husband Kevin Johnson is mayor) and said that her goal is to find ways of "serving America's children." Probably at the exact moment she was saying those words, poof, her new website, twitter account, and facebook page appeared. Clearly, Rhee's got big plans, and her resignation announcement today can be viewed as a graduation ceremony to bigger and better things on the national stage (not that she wasn't already a national figure, but you get the idea).

But this here blog is about local politics. So what does this mean for a guy who got elected by a bunch of people who don't like Rhee, but wants to win over the folks who loved Rhee?

At first blush, the whole event looked like good politics. In contrast to the awkward scene outside of Rhee's first post-election meeting with the Almost Mayor, today's press-conference was nicely choreographed, designed to convey an image of stability that is crucial for Gray (and pretty important for Rhee's onward employment prospects, too).

Kaya Henderson

New schools boss, Kaya Henderson

Likewise, Gray's decision to keep Rhee's senior-level staff in place for the rest of the school year and make her deputy Kaya Henderson interim chancellor also looks smart. Rhee-haters get their scalp while Rhee-lovers get a nice consolation prize: Rhee-like reforms, just without Rhee.

The soon-to-be ex chancellor was effusive in her praise for Henderson.

"So, one of the great things about the transition as we have planned it is that all of the reform can continue as planned," Rhee said, adding that "this will be an absolutely seemless transition" because Henderson and the "entire" senior management team are staying in place.

Gray, for his part, said for the 1,453th time that he fully supports school reform and has no plans to be a micro-managing mayor.

All of which begs the question, and NBC 4's Tom Sherwood asked it, why Rhee needed to leave?

"If you're keeping Kaya Henderson, and you're keeping the senior staff, and you're keeping the ... policies in place, why not keep Michelle Rhee," Sherwood asked.

Gray stumbled through an answer by repeating that it was a "mutual decision," before Sherwood asked, "Did you not want her or did she not want you?"

Gray said he didn't think was an "appropriate question." Actually, Vince, it's a great question, and you already answered it: it was a mutual decision. You didn't want one another.

Beyond the forensics over Rhee's long-expected departure, there are more interesting questions that will continue to be revelant well after Rhee is safely ensconced in whatever high-powered education job awaits her.

For one: Will Henderson will be able to continue Rhee's reforms, like firing bad teachers,without alienating large swaths of black parents like Rhee did? If she can, the results will represent a final indictment of Rhee's leadership style. So far, things are looking pretty good: an aide to Gray says Henderson gets top marks among leaders in the black community, and the Washington Teacher's Union President George Parker tells the Post said he respects Henderson's ability to work collaboratively.

But the other question is all about Gray: Even if Henderson goes down as history's sweetest, most politically savvy educational bureaucrat, the aggressive reforms that the Almost Mayor claims to want will inevitably involve some disagreeing with the union that helped elect Gray. When that happens, will she get the necessary political cover from her new boss? The answer to that question may represent an equally damning indictment of Gray's leadership style.

(Photos by Darrow Montgomery. More photos available in Loose Lips)

  • larry

    Right on. Gray and all of the unrecognized fantastic people who work in ed, non-profits and programs will stay with the kids. Rhee can take her national recognition because that is what she has been all about all along.

  • joan

    a flash in the pan who tried to look busy but accomplished little - Rhee will go the way of other media mongers like Chief Moose and Dr. Ivan Walks - your 15 minutes is over

  • SEdcDude

    It amazes me at how this SKANK and her boss set back DCPS children 50 years and receives national recognition for it!

    The irony though is that had she did half the shit she did in WHITE world, she would'a been burned at the stake!

    Goes to show how far BM and BW have fallen off here in chocolate city! Better wake up, the world has risen to the nonsense of AMERIKKKA, the dollar is some shit, we don't produce NOTHING but porn, alcohol and LIES!

    Time to man up and women to come down off the high horse of INDEPENDENCE and work together for our YOUTH!

    Its all we've got and others know this, that's why Rhee is being lauded instead of persecuted!


  • I. J.

    I am happy she is out of here - Now lets get ride of Peter "Hitler" Nickles and Chief Cathy "Racist" Lainer.

  • ThomDC

    Husband? When did that happen? Thought she got dumped!

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com try2staysanendc

    Exactly I.J. Get rid of them both.

  • Isn’t It Obvious


    No marriage yet, that I know of to Kevin Johnson. When did that happen?

    Also, if you are going to use the term "1,453... time..." using a "3" at the end of a number requires the use of "rd" afterward, not the use of "th" as you used above (regarding the number of times Mr. Gray has stated something).

    Also, the word "style" is misspelled as "sytle." It should be "Henderson gets top marks" not, "Henderson's gets top marks."

    I know that you are trying to get things out fast, but please proof your item or have someone else do it to check for accuracy. When the columnist has so many typos and other information accuracy problems, it makes for a difficult reading of the information trying to be conveyed. Are the editors asleep during the review process?

  • Isn’t It Obvious


    @ LL; at first I was going to state that it makes for a difficult read. Then I changed my mind and wanted to state that it makes the reading the information trying to be conveyed difficult. However, you, unlike me, have editors. Please excuse my typo. Thanks.

  • SEis4ME

    @Isn't it obvious,

    So you couldn't understand what 1,453 means or the addition of an ('s) confuses you? Yet you attempt to correctly spell/edit what you couldn't understand?

    I don't understand chinese and I wouldn't think of correcting someone else speaking the language since I don't.

    Do yuo undrestnd this? Or is that confusing too?

  • I. J.

    I am happy that big teeth tyrant is gone

  • Isn’t It Obvious


    Because I was not talking to in my remarks, I will simply address your statements as idiotic. As it is stated in the military, "when I want your opinion, I'll give it to you." When you become LL then come talk to me. Just because someone is able to get the gist of what someone is stating, it does not mean that the information is stated correctly.

    LL is a journalist, with an editorial staff. Someone who is the profession should be held to a higher standard than a person who makes idiotic statements like you did in your remarks to me. In the future, if I am not specifically talking to you or about you (as was the case here), mind your business; and keep your comments about me to yourself. Thanks.

  • Truth Hurts

    @ SEis4ME:

    I thought comment #9 was pretty funny. Isn't It Obvious seems a bit on edge.