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Michelle began her career as a Teach for America corps member in Baltimore. In 1997, Michelle founded and led The New Teacher Project, which recruits and trains teachers to work in urban schools. From 2007 to 2010, Michelle served as chancellor of District of Columbia Public Schools. Under her stewardship, D.C. schools experienced increases in student achievement, a rise in graduation rates and an upswing — for the first time in decades — in enrollment. "Working in education over the past twenty years, time after time I saw obstacles keeping kids from getting what they needed from their schools. Yes, there were challenges that were going to be difficult to overcome no matter what, but so many practices just didn't make sense and were completely within our power to change. When I tried to change them, I found out why the status quo had persisted for so long. Groups that put the interests of adults in the system first were driving the conversation, and they were backed by big dollars and political power. What we needed was a collective voice solely representing kids' best interests, because the sense of balance was completely gone. I started StudentsFirst to change that. Schools exist to give kids the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed, and EVERY decision has to revolve around that."
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