In just a few short years, state legislatures and education agencies across the country have sought to transform American public education by passing a series of laws and policies overhauling teacher tenure, introducing the use of standardized test scores in performance evaluations and expanding charter schools, the New York Times reports. Such policies are among those pushed by StudentsFirst, the advocacy group led by Michelle A. Rhee, the former schools chancellor in Washington. Ms. Rhee has generated debate in education circles for aggressive pursuit of her agenda and the financing of political candidates who support it. In a report issued Monday, StudentsFirst ranks states based on how closely they follow the group’s platform, looking at policies related not only to tenure and evaluations but also to pensions and the governance of school districts. The group uses the classic academic grading system, awarding states A to F ratings……Read More
Michigan Democratic state Rep. Tim Melton is leaving office and moving to California to join Michelle Rhee’s education reform group StudentsFirst, the Huffington Post reports. Melton is in his third and last term in Michigan’s state House, and told the Detroit Free Press that a new role at StudentsFirst as the group’s national legislative director is “right in my wheelhouse. I’ll be able to continue to work on the things I’m passionate about.”…Read More
Ever since Michelle Rhee resigned under pressure as chancellor of the Washington, D.C., schools in October, rumors have flown about her next move. Would she relocate to Newark to spend the $100 million gift from Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook to fix its troubled schools? Would she become education commissioner of New Jersey or Florida? Ms. Rhee, one of the best recognized, and most polarizing, figures in public education, answered Monday with timed appearances on “Oprah” and the cover of Newsweek. The media splash said as much about her ability to market herself and her brand of school reform as the details of her next chapter. She announced she would lead a new advocacy group, StudentsFirst, setting a highly ambitious target of raising $1 billion to promote “transformative reform,” primarily by backing laws and political candidates, from local school boards to Congress, reports the New York Times. The group will solicit memberships for as little as $5 per month, but it will also take advantage of changes in campaign finance laws that allow it to broadcast political advertisements paid for by rich individuals and corporations.
“The ultimate goal is to shift the power dynamic of education in this country, which I think for far too long has been dominated by special interests, whether the teachers’ unions or textbook manufacturers,” Ms. Rhee, 40, said in an interview.
One issue she would tackle, she said, was the practice of laying off teachers, according to their contracts, by seniority rather than classroom effectiveness……Read More