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A Big Day for Education Reform (and Michelle Rhee)

The Washington, D.C. public school system announced today that it is laying off 241 teachers—roughly 6 percent of its staff—due to poor classroom performance. These are the first such dismissals since the implementation of the IMPACT teacher evaluation system, and they come on the heels of a hard-won contract between the District and its teachers’ union. (After years of battle, the two sides agreed to terms this spring.)

I’m sure this story will get messy, with criticisms hurled about the fairness of the evaluation system and the public schools’ tough take on teachers under Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Already, the Washington Teachers' Union has said it will challenge the firings. But, before the fight begins, it’s worth applauding an exciting development in education reform. One of country’s historically chaotic and underperforming school districts has taken the initiative to dismiss bad teachers. More districts should follow suit.