Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

MY TURN | Michelle Rhee Politicizing School Reform

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

MY TURN | Michelle Rhee Politicizing School Reform

Article excerpt

Recently, Michelle Rhee, president of StudentsFirst came to Birmingham for what Rhee said was an event "that brought together 150 teachers and parents for an open, frank discussion about solutions to raise student achievement in this city and around the nation."

First of all, there are more than 30,000 students, 3,000 teachers and 55 schools in the Birmingham City School System. It is telling that only 150 people attended Rhee's meeting. Of those in attendance, less than a third were educators. The vast majority of the crowd was bused in by Rhee's group.

Michelle Rhee is playing a con game. Years ago, it would have been called snake oil, but Michelle Rhee calls it education reform.

The Alabama Education Association, and apparently thousands of other students and parents, were not willing to be a part of Rhee's Birmingham charade. So, with no public support, and no clamoring from the masses for what she is espousing, the question remains, "Who is behind Michelle Rhee and why was she here?"

Michelle Rhee is the face of a movement to end public education. She built her career on privatizing our public education system and weakening the rights of teachers. At a time when Alabama public schools are underfunded and under attack from extremists in the Legislature, Rhee and her organization support policies that will only continue to drain our public schools of critical resources, raise classroom size, send taxpayer money to for-profit corporations, and fire some of Alabama's most dedicated and valuable assets -- our teachers.

Rhee and her group have made great strides at politicizing the school reform issue by having you believe that her only opposition is from the extreme left of the political spectrum. In reality, the chief education adviser for President George H.W. Bush, Diane Ravitch leads the effort to expose Rhee. Ravitch said Rhee's legacy at the Washington, D.C., school system (where she served as chancellor for three years) was "cheating, teaching to bad tests, institutionalized fraud, dumbing down of tests and a narrowed curriculum." Ravitch is referencing one the nation's largest grade changing scandals in history that occurred on Rhee's watch. …

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