Michelle Rhee’s Unfortunate Departure from DC

If the Tea Party is the biggest single split among Republicans, the Democrats’ biggest split is between entrenched labor unions and education reformers. This issue is coming to a head in many ways, but one is the departure of Michelle Rhee from the DC Public Schools. Columnist Ruben Navarette had an insightful article on this topic in the Albuquerque Journal today. Rhee is heading off into the sunset because reformist Democrat Mayor Adrian Fenty was beaten by the labor machine candidate William Gray.

Another symbol of this split is, of course, the film “Waiting for Superman” which has now hit Albuquerque and is showing at the Rio 24 off Pan American. The film was directed by David Guggenheim, a self-described “liberal Democrat” and is highly-critical of the unions.

Michelle Rhee is on the market. Maybe we could hire her to turn around APS?

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9 Replies to “Michelle Rhee’s Unfortunate Departure from DC”

  1. The entire issue of school reform is too complicated to be categorized dichotomously (also, that those who thus dichotomize it make the issue more difficult).
    Let me put it this way. Yes, the teachers unions are resisting reforms. But, yes, they are right to resist the reforms proposed by educational leaders and politicians. The terms and conditions of the issue on both sides of the argument misrepresent the problems and thereby prevent appropriate solutions.
    The sad fact is that we are plagued by both “houses” and thus leave the stricken educational system, public and private, to atrophy, along with both our democracy and our capitalist system.

  2. Ms. Ribeiro, I am quite sure that this troubled school district is NOT thinking about bringing a reformer here. The one thing which this part of the state, if not the state as a whole, is dead set against is reforming or improving public education. It is harder to address, especially by targeting, educational problems than simply to give everyone the bribe of a diploma, however worthless the education which it purports to represent.

  3. Thomas, I can agree with your first point, but not your second. The Department exists because at least some–we can debate which ones–are and must be functions performed by the federal government. Whether they are housed under one roof or many is a question, I hope, of practicality, not politics and posturing.

  4. @Michael
    Have you seen the documentary: “Waiting for Superman”?
    The documentary fully supports this conclusion: the current education system works for the school bureaucracies and the teachers but not for the children.

  5. @Thomas,
    No, I have not. I agree that the current educational system serves some, but not others–I am not sure that it serves teachers or all of them–most importantly the students. However, it does not follow that small or charter schools can do a better job of serving them. The results so far seem to be the the percentage of such schools doing better than public schools is half the percentage of such schools doing worse. Like the TNM report, which I discuss in the latest column on Heath Haussamen’s website, it cherrypicks. The solution to a problem begins with addressing the problem, not avoiding it with diversions. And see me comment in reply to yours on that side. Thanks.

  6. @Michael
    If you read my comment to your column on Haussamen’s sit then you know the question I asked my NMSU prof. All I know, since I was a little boy my father used to tell me that “education was the key to solving all of the world’s problems.” He said this to me in the middle of the racial riots in Watts and Vietname in the mid-60s. Forty years later, Michael, help me understand why I think we have devolved instead evolved in the areas of being a smarter and more enlightened society. It appears to me we are graduating dumber kids and engaging in more wars than ever before. If you have the answer, then let’s you and I write a book together and launch a seminar business franchising our ideas!

  7. @Thomas, I would not be so presumptuous as to claim to have the answer, but I attribute the shift which you describe to a cultural shift triggered by liberals reacting to and rejecting the “system” which led us into the Vietnam War. Attacks on tradition, structure, rules, etc., led to an unhealthy emphasis on unfettered individualism and “creative” expression. Concepts like self-restraint and practices like manners have simply disappeared in most places. The result is a neo-barbarism, now shared equally across the cultural divide by just about everyone. I have elaborated this view in a number of columns. A book? Who would read it?

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