First thing???s (Students)First
The 140,000 members of StudentsFirst, its donors (who have thus far offered up $1.4 million), and the education-reform crowd writ large now know, specifically, what Michelle Rhee’s new outfit is about. In a policy agenda released this week, Rhee and her team outline three priorities on which StudentsFirst will focus: elevate teaching, empower parents, and spend wisely. Each theme is tied to specific objectives that range from pushing for the “parent trigger” to revamping pensions and health-care benefits systems. Most of the initiatives aren’t very surprising—the one exception being her support of vouchers for students attending sub-par schools. The rest are mainstream education-reform ideas—and most were initiatives pushed for by Rhee while she was with DCPS. Novel or not, the policies outlined are all worthy of support—though her push for performance pay might suffer from poor timing, as states and districts are currently obsessed with tightening belts, not sweetening the pot. More interesting will be Rhee’s approach to “advocacy.” Will she engage in grass-roots organizing? Lobbying? Or will she focus primarily on directing campaign cash to reform-minded politicos? We already know that Rhee is a bee-eater, now we’ll see if she’s also a rainmaker.
“School Changes Pushed by Rhee,” by Stephanie Banchero, Wall Street Journal, January 11, 2011.
“A Challenge to States and Districts: Policies That Put Students First,” by Michelle Rhee, StudentsFirst, January 10, 2011.
“In Budget Crisis, an Opening for School Reform,” by Michelle Rhee, Wall Street Journal, January 11, 2011.
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