Dear Commons Community,
Michelle Rhee confirmed The Huffington Post’s Tuesday article about her departure from StudentsFirst in a blog post on the group’s website, as well as in a statement to the Sacramento Bee, late Wednesday. Rhee did not provide a date for her departure. As reported in The Huffington Post:
“While I remain 100 percent committed to the success of StudentsFirst, it’s time for a shift in the day-to-day management of the team and our advocacy work,” Rhee wrote in the blog post. “We’ll be sharing more of the nuts-and-bolts details about that in the coming weeks…”
StudentsFirst has not been as effective as she wanted,” said a former prominent StudentsFirst staffer, who declined to be named, wanting to preserve relationships in education reform. “It’s been frustrating. It’s not totally shocking that eventually even she would decide to step away.”
“If Rhee steps aside, the organization would be without its main attraction. StudentsFirst has recently pulled out of states such as Minnesota and Florida, and its relationship with a New Jersey partner organization ended about a year ago. It’s unclear whether StudentsFirst will draw as much attention without its famous founder.
“In practice, this has always been about Michelle,” said the former staffer.
Ms. Rhee is leaving at a time when the school “reform” movement that she helped promulgate is waning. the country has in some ways moved on from the movement’s agenda, or at least its hard-charging rhetoric. This shift has been evident in the election of candidates such as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), who staked his campaign on fighting against the Rhee-like education policies of his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. Even one of the movement’s greatest proponents has noted the political sensitivity around it, saying he sought to avoid the word “reform.” But Rhee’s rhetoric has pervaded the messaging of several education reform groups, politicians and pundits, who still make the case for reforming tenure and judging teachers in accordance with their students’ standardized test scores.”
Ms. Rhee is leaving the sinking ship of school “reform” and we say good-bye.