Forget Joe the Plumber -- Let's Talk About Michelle Rhee

In this year's presidential and VP debates, there hasn't been all that much talk about local policy. But last night's debate between Barack Obama and ...
by | October 16, 2008

Michelle_rhee In this year's presidential and VP debates, there hasn't been all that much talk about local policy. But last night's debate between Barack Obama and John McCain did touch on urban education policy, and the candidates even discussed a local official! (Although they didn't mention her by name).

The exchange centered on Washington, D.C.'s new (ish) schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, and whether or not she supports vouchers:

OBAMA: I'll just make a quick comment about vouchers in D.C. Senator McCain's absolutely right: The D.C. school system is in terrible shape, and it has been for a very long time. And we've got a wonderful new superintendent there who's working very hard with the young mayor there to try...

MCCAIN: Who supports vouchers.

OBAMA: ... who initiated -- actually, supports charters.

MCCAIN: She supports vouchers, also.

So does she or not?

Well, as DCist notes, Rhee has said she supports D.C. Opportunity Scholarships, "a federally funded voucher program that is popular with parents but hasn't necessarily demonstrated significant improvement in student achievement."

But, according to an official statement Rhee issued last night, she's not convinced that vouchers themselves are a good solution:

While Chancellor Rhee hasn't taken a formal position on vouchers, she disagrees with the notion that vouchers are the remedy for repairing the city's school system.

I profiled Rhee last summer when she first came on the job. Now that she's the most famous non-plumbing American to be mentioned in the final presidential debate, maybe it's worth a read.

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