Friday, July 25, 2008

Rhee Rules Through Fear Continued 

So the remaining question is why is the Chancellor making decisions in a way that makes people fearful? Well in my over 20 years of management leaders often try and scare people because they are insecure in their jobs. But this certainly is not the case with Miss Rhee. She clearly understands she is where she is to make tough decisions and that if she is having an easy time of it then she is not doing as expected. She has tremendous support from the Mayor who has given her a free hand to shake things up.

Another reason the Chancellor may use fear as a management technique is that she does not trust those with whom she is working. Here we have a more likely cause. The Chancellor has on many occasions openly expressed the past failures of DCPS on an administrative and instructional level. One person even told me that she goes through the central office not making eye contact with her subordinates.

This leads me to the real reason I think Miss Rhee often makes people uneasy. I attribute most of what we are seeing to lack of management experience. I remember when I was a new supervisor and an employee was not doing as expected. I often turned the issue into a personal matter. This individual changed in my opinion from being a person who was good to one who is bad. It didn't take me long to realize that everyone has positive and negative aspects of their behaviors and as a manager I could, if a matter was of a serious nature, council the employee to try and correct the problem. In the great majority of the cases talking to the staff member was sufficient. Many times the employee didn't even recognize that there was an issue.

There are many excellent DCPS staff members. Many have been caught in a system that for decades has not been focused on the children they have been serving. Miss Rhee should focus her energies on leading her employees in a new direction solely focused on student achievement. For those who can rise to the challenge then there is nothing to worry about. For others it will be time to go. But as the head of the traditional public school system Miss Rhee should frequently and honestly communicate with us as to what she is thinking and in which direction she sees the system heading. In that way it will be fun to go along for the ride.

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