D.C. schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee has had a wonderful PR summer. She’s been giving out her e-mail address and her cell phone number and has made herself endlessly available to community groups and the media.
And one particular Rhee anecdote has been making the rounds to great effect lately. The story involves a volunteer group for a high school that was trying to get much-needed textbooks from a nearby middle school. The volunteers were told they couldn’t just take the books from the middle school directly to the high school; instead, those texts had to do time in the school system’s messy warehouse.
The volunteers appealed to Rhee, who intervened and saved the texts a trip to warehouse purgatory. In thus doing, Rhee emerges the hero.
Now it’s time for someone to ask the hard questions about this text-transfer tale: Is there not a compelling reason for those texts to go to a clearinghouse before getting distributed elsewhere? If volunteers throughout the school system take Rhee’s cue and start transferring texts willy-nilly, won’t chaos ensue? Who will know how many kids need textbooks? And who will know how many the school system has? Who’s gonna keep those volunteers from, perhaps, storing a few at their homes?
There are no easy solutions to the ills of DCPS. Empowering volunteers to go around SOP makes us all feel good, until we later realize that, hey, there might have actually been a reason for those SOP.