Last updated on: 2/3/2017 | Author:

Michelle Rhee, MPP Biography

Former DC Schools Chancellor
Con to the question "Should Teachers Get Tenure?"

“I was encouraged to learn about Florida’s recent efforts to eliminate tenure. It just does not put students first, and with federal due process laws in place, tenure is no longer necessary to sufficiently protect teachers from arbitrary dismissal. Whether you are able to eliminate it or otherwise redefine it to separate tenure from personnel decisions, Florida can be one of the first to disempower this outdated practice that has no correlation to improved student achievement.

Of course, having tenure does not mean a teacher is ineffective. However, most teachers are granted tenure within just a few years. Once a teacher has tenure, in most states that teacher essentially has a job for life regardless of performance, making the practice of tenure a barrier to separating teachers who are ineffective and unable to improve…

As Stanford economist Eric Hanushek’s study on teacher quality indicates, even if we replace just the bottom six percent of teachers with average teachers, we will see dramatic results in student achievement. Tenure makes it very difficult to do even this.”

Testimony Before Florida State’s Senate Prekindergarten-12 Education Committee, available at, Feb. 10, 2011

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Chair of the Board, St. Hope Public Schools, CA, 2014-present
  • Founder and Former CEO, StudentsFirst, Dec. 2010-2014
  • Former DC Schools Chancellor, June 12, 2007-Oct. 31, 2010
  • Board Chair, St. Hope Public Schools, 2014-present
  • Board Member, Scott’s Miracle-Gro Co., 2014-present
  • Member, Transition Team, Florida Governor Rick Scott (R), 2010-2011
  • Guest of First Lady Laura Bush at President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address, 2008
  • Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and President, The New Teacher Project, 1997-2007
  • Teach for America Corps Member, Harlem Park Community School, 1992-1995
  • Advisory Board Member, National Council on Teacher Quality
  • Advisory Board Member, National Center for Alternative Certification
  • Advisory Board Member, Project REACH of the University of Phoenix’s School of Education
  • MPP, Public Policy, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, 1997
  • BA, Government, Cornell University, 1992
  • Also known as Michelle Johnson
  • From Toledo, Ohio
  • Married to Kevin Johnson, mayor of Sacramento, CA and former NBA player
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should Teachers Get Tenure?