I spent some time yesterday trying to come up with a clever play on the name of gutsy Washington, D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Alas, I bombed. But David Harsanyi, the Denver columnist, has succeeded where I failed-“A Rhee of Hope.”

 According to Harsanyi, the schools chancellor is a ray of hope because:

In 2006, 8 percent of eighth-graders in Washington, D.C., could perform minimal math, yet not a single teacher was fired for stinking up the place. In fact, as D.C.’s chancellor, Michelle Rhee, points out, for years, more than 90 percent of teachers in her district were evaluated as having “exceeded expectations.”

All of this makes Rhee’s decision to fire 241 Washington teachers — after they failed a new (real) evaluation system — a precedent-setting moment. Another 737 teachers could face a similar fate unless they significantly improve their performances. Does anyone doubt that many of them will?

Rhee — appointed by a liberal mayor in the bluest of American cities — is a radical in the best sense of the word. Bureaucrats succeed through a devotion to risk aversion. But Rhee came into the job and immediately commissioned an outside audit of the entire school district, laid off scores of administrators and nonessential staff, and closed more than 20 underperforming schools.

Teachers just never get fired. I know a former high school principal who says that this was his biggest challenge. Until recently New York had “rubber rooms” for teachers who can’t be allowed near students but still can’t be fired and, most dishearteningly, contiuned to pull down good salaries. (One of my pet peeves: our national education mess is not the result of lack of funding. But that’s a rant for another day.)

 Rhee may ultimately fail to bring improvement to a union-dominated profession, but she is trying and that is unusual in itself.