Dear Commons Community,
A group called New Yorkers for Great Public Schools (NYGPS) released a report Friday called “Rhee-ality Check” that calls into question Michelle Rhee’s success. It mostly relies on news clippings to assert that Rhee’s StudentsFirst reform advocacy group is ineffective in fundraising and legislative efforts.
“This is the first report of its kind to examine whether this education advocacy group founded by Michelle Rhee has made progress toward its key goals,” the report said. “A national education advocacy group with such a track record of ineffectiveness is not what Rhee’s investors signed up for.” As reported in the Huffington Post:
In recent days, as the report’s release neared, a few allies of Rhee and her associates have sprung to her defense, offering accounts of her success. “National unions and other union front groups like NYGPS sure spend a lot of time, money, and attention on an organization they say is ineffective. The union bosses funding these groups are underestimating the public’s intelligence,” Erin Shaw, a StudentsFirst spokesperson, said in an email. “In the meantime, we are focused on passing laws and policies state by state … that put kids’ interests above all else.” Recently, Shaw noted, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed a teacher evaluation bill.
The report, and the back-and-forth in advance of its publication, touches on interesting questions at a time when philanthropies wield significant power over public policy: How can advocacy efforts be measured? What information can philanthropic groups use to guide their investments?