Michelle Rhee’s Influence on DC Real Estate: The Director’s Cut

by Mark Wellborn

In a post on the City Paper’s real estate blog last week, Lydia DePillis put forth the idea that DC public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee is the most powerful person in DC real estate. In her column for the paper this week, she takes a closer look at this assumption.

In short, the thesis for the article is fairly simple: DC public schools have long been a reason that families move out of the District when their children reach a certain age, but if schools get better, particularly in areas where they have performed poorly for decades, then the migration out of DC might slow or stop altogether.

The column is a very interesting read from start to finish, but one section is worth special mention as it provides insight about the progress of neighborhoods outpacing the progress of schools:

Take Bloomingdale and Brookland, for example, which are in the middle of a baby boom. Local realtor and incoming WDCAR president Suzanne Des Marais has seen more families moving into her home turf of Bloomingdale in the last couple of years than ever before—but it’s in spite of the schools, not because of them.

“I don’t know anybody who sends their kids to school in my neighborhood, which is a little crazy,” says Des Marais, whose 12-year-old goes to a private school in Takoma Park.

Full disclosure: This post was written by someone who went to DC public schools from Pre-K to 12th grade.

See other articles related to: michelle rhee, dc public schools

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/michelle_rhees_influence_on_dc_real_estate_the_directors_cut/2425


  1. Erin said at 6:06 pm on Thursday August 26, 2010:

    This is spot on. I live in NE DC - and the perfect example of this theory come to life is that a local elementary school hosted a “school beautification” day last weekend. 20 people showed up, and only ONE of them was a parent of a kid who attended the school. Parental involvement in their children’s education is a mainstay in the middle/upper classes. The middle/upper classes are not sending their kids (for the most part) to DC public schools. BUT as the suburban flight continues to subsist, and folks are settling right here in DC, things are changing. Young, wel-to-do professionals are having babies in DC. They are concerned about where those babies are going to grow up and go to school. So they participate in “school beautification” days, and they care. I’ll be very curious to see where this trend leads over the next 10 years. It’s certainly something to keep an eye on, because DePhillis is on to something…

  1. L Green said at 4:22 pm on Friday August 27, 2010:

    Well maybe things will go back to the way it was in the late 60s.  Where all races went to school together and everybody helped out at the neighborhood school. 

    DC Public School Pre-K thru 3rd grade; parents moved to the suburbs in early 70s due to DC schools started going downhill.  At least now they have books that are not 10 years old.

  1. Suzanne Des Marais said at 1:53 pm on Saturday August 28, 2010:

    As mentioned, there are lots of families in Bloomingdale.  I am a parent of an older child and there are currently few kids my daughter’s age that are close to us.  I do hope to see more families committing to stay in the city and get involved in the local schools.

    I also think that our school system has an unusual mobility to it, which, for better or worse, takes kids out of the neighborhood schools via the lotteries and Charter schools.

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