The War on Teachers: What has Michelle Rhee learned about education politics?

How to cash in on her educrat celebrity!  From a lengthy, self-serving analysis of her time as Washington, D.C. school chancellor:

There are enough people out there who understand and believe that kids deserve better, but until now, there has been no organization for them. We’ll ask people across the country to join StudentsFirst—we’re hoping to sign up 1 million members and raise $1 billion in our first year.

.       .       .       .       .       .      

Though we’ll be nonpartisan, we can’t pretend that education reform isn’t political. So we’ll put pressure on elected officials and press for changes in legislation to make things better for kids. And we’ll support and endorse school-board candidates and politicians—in city halls, statehouses, and the U.S. Congress—who want to enact policies around our legislative agenda. We’ll support any candidate who’s reform-minded, regardless of political party, so reform won’t just be a few courageous politicians experimenting in isolated locations; it’ll be a powerful, nationwide movement.

Great!  Just what Washington needs:  another billion-dollar “nonprofit” lobbying firm!  Yeah, I bet that will change everything–for the children, of course.  (It will change everything for Michelle Rhee, anyway–I’m sure she’s looking at a major salary bump!)

Rhee can cry publicly about those meanie teachers in Washington, but she should be sending them a big thank-you note.  In defeating Mayor Adrian Fenty’s bid for re-election and ousting Rhee, the biggest winner in all of this is Rhee herself.  See, the number one lesson of being an educrat is that you never stay in one job long enough for the conclusive test results to come in assessing your tenure.  It’s much better to be driven out after just a few years and complain that you didn’t have time to implement your brilliant ideas.  That way, there’s never accountability for educrats, who can continue to claim to be working on behalf of the children, but who are never asked to show any proof that what they’ve done is working.  Certainly they’d never subject themselves to the same pay-for-performance that they claim is the only way to go with teachers earning $40,000 a year!  After three or four years, they’re off to superintend or chancellorize yet another big city school system, or (better yet!) to enter the super-lucrative revolving door of lobbying and “public service” in the nation’s capital.

Rhee’s false apology more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger to those dumba$$ teachers in Washington is pretty rich:

Still, I could have done a better job of communicating. I did a particularly bad job letting the many good teachers know that I considered them to be the most important part of the equation. I should have said to the effective teachers, “You don’t have anything to worry about. My job is to make your life better, offer you more support, and pay you more.” I totally fell down on doing that. As a result, my comments about ineffective teachers were often perceived as an attack on all teachers. I also underestimated how much teachers would be relying on the blogs, random rumors, and innuendo.

Yeah, well–I hear you on the blog issue.  (As we like to say here, you get what you pay for, friends!)  This part of her article reminds me of some post-breakup speeches I’ve heard:  “Don’t feel sorry for me!  On the contrary, I feel sorry for you, because I’ve already forgotten your name, and the name of your stupid blog.  You’ll be sorry one day, but then it will be too late!!!”

Rhee’s rhetoric has been pretty dopey all along, but what I find really comical is her suggestion that teachers and school districts are only serving adults–as though it’s inappropriate for adults to be in charge of education, and as though they’re not running complicated institutions with thousands of employees which therefore must think about things like contracts, collective bargaining, health insurance, and the like.  She writes as though it’s somehow unique that people with university educations should run things, like they do in hospitals, factories, and most businesses, instead of children.  She recycles this talking point again in this article:

Policymakers, school-district administrators, and school boards who are beholden to special interests have created a bureaucracy that is focused on the adults instead of the students. Go to any public-school-board meeting in the country and you’ll rarely hear the words “children,” “students,” or “kids” uttered. Instead, the focus remains on what jobs, contracts, and departments are getting which cuts, additions, or changes. The rationale for the decisions mostly rests on which grown-ups will be affected, instead of what will benefit or harm children.

This is about as silly as it gets.  So what’s her solution:  will StudentsFirst actually be run and staffed by grade schoolers?  What guarantees will private donors to StudentsFirst have that the adults who staff and direct the organization will in fact be guided by “what will benefit or harm children?”  Or is this just a front that will be funded by big corporations (like the for-profit education industry and testing companies) to go after the teacher’s unions? 

So, to summarize:  Michelle Rhee is the victim of vicious politics driven by teacher’s unions and stupid voters in Washington, D.C. who don’t know what’s good for them, so she’s starting a new lobbying firm to go after organized labor and the teachers’ unions in particular.  Now, that’s what I’d call sweet Rhee-venge! 

53 thoughts on “The War on Teachers: What has Michelle Rhee learned about education politics?

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