Dear Commons Community,
The Huffington Post is reporting that top Democratic party officials are abandoning Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst lobbying organization. Michelle Rhee, the former Washington, D.C. school chancellor, has danced a tricky tango since starting her national advocacy and lobbying group, StudentsFirst, in December 2010.
“Rhee purported to be the face of a bipartisan movement to “transform education,” while simultaneously battling Democratic teachers unions and appearing chummy in photo ops with conservative Republican governors like Rick Scott (Fla.) or John Kasich (Ohio).
All the while, a small cadre of influential Democrats stood behind her, helping her craft messages on things like her positions on unions (that they are entitled to collective bargaining on salary issues), and trying to fend off attacks from the progressive community (one in particular thwacked her explicitly for her right-wing contacts). But in the last few months, these Democrats — including the group’s vice president of communications, Hari Sevugan, as first reported by education blogger Alexander Russo — have left the group, ceding control to a group of new hires, including president Kahlil Byrd.”
Let’s face it, Michelle Rhee was a not a very effective superintendent. Her style created a toxic environment for teachers and school level administrators. Her policies resulted in modest if any improvements in student learning. During her tenure, the Washington D.C. school system was also criticized for high erasure rates to boost standardized test scores. She is basically using StudentsFirst as a way to cash in on the notoriety she received mostly from the political right. Her platform of reform is completely anti-teacher, anti-union, and pro-charter schools It is most appropriate for the Democrats to abandon her and StudentsFirst which should more appropriately be named RheeFirst,