Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Remember, it's all about the kids

Rhee's $1 billion comeback

Just days after announcing that she was going to work for Florida's T-Party Gov. Rick Scott, Michelle Rhee and her patrons used Oprah's show and a Newsweek cover story to announce the formation of her own shiny new school reform group. Remember how, in 2008 she kicked off her disastrous term as D.C.'s school boss with a Time cover story and the infamous broom picture?

She's named her new group, Students First, but a look at her website will tell you that it should have been called Rhee First. The kick-off is largely the work of her clout-heavy, tres expensive PR firm headed by former Obama white house staffer Anita Dunn working with former N.Y. Chancellor Joel Klein and Rhee's fiancé, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.

The teacher-bashing star of Waiting for Superman ought to make a killing in the new open-market money pit of corporate school reform. Money-magnet Rhee claims the group will raise $1 billion from patrons Gates, Broad and other private corporate sources. That perked up the ears of ever-willing AFT prez Randi Weingarten who invited Rhee to "work with us."  It also led USA Today ed writer Greg Topo to Tweet, "So much for money not mattering." 
“If there’s anyone who can raise a billion for this, it’s going to be Michelle,” said Joe Williams, the executive director of Democrats for Education Reform, recalling that Ms. Rhee was greeted like a rock star at a political event his group hosted a couple of years ago in Denver.  (NYT)
But her main cheerleaders are the usual gaggle of union haters starting with American Enterprise Institute's Rick Hess--“She very explicitly is setting out to be a political answer to the unions”-- and Bellweather's (they know which way the wind's blowing) Andy Rotherham--"She’s a charismatic, high-profile national leader, and she’s unafraid to break a lot of china.”

Break china indeed. But remember, it's all about the kids.

4 comments:

  1. The other piece to consider is that the website is currently being run by Blue State Digital - which is an outfit founded and run by some of the folks responsible for both Howard Dean and Obama's electronic campaign.

    Gotta love these astro-turf campaigns.

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  2. Another tid-bit. It looks like they just bought the domain name November 29. And the contact person on the whois lookup is Julian Nagler, who *may* be the same person who worked on the saveDCnow twitter campaign that was all about getting Fenty reelected with a write-in campaign.

    FWIW...

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  3. who *may* be the same person who worked on the saveDCnow twitter campaign that was all about getting Fenty reelected with a write-in campaign.I like it so much This is very very good side Thanks MA

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  4. I had a feeling that getting fired from D.C. was a good career move for Rhee, and this proves it. People like her, who have big mouths and no principles and are useful to the interests of powerful elites, always come up on their feet.

    Not that Rhee lacked a national platform for education deform and attacks on teachers until now, but this gives her an even more powerful one. The fact that Eli Broad plans to give her money is a harbinger of very bad things to come. No longer does she have to pretend to toil away for a few hours at the office in Washington before taking to the airwaves; now she can spend 24/7/365 on self-promotional blather that the corporate privatizers of public education will love.

    And the Newsweek article—which is so insipid I’m tempted to think she actually wrote it herself—shows once again that the media are behind phony school reform. (And soon, I trust, Rhee will have enough loot to hire a staff of ghostwriters to put some polish on her self-serving prose.)

    Before long, I suspect the mania for educational technology—which some people think is a progressive force, but I do not—will dovetail with the Rhee-Klein-Gates-Murdoch-Broad-Duncan agenda, and school reform will be presented as a matter of reducing the number of teachers and replacing them with gadgets which will be said to “liberate” students and “put them in command of their own education.”

    It’s going to be a tough fight. Teachers and parents have the same interests here, but parents aren't well organized and some will be susceptible to union bashing that dominates the media. As a strategic matter, then, I would urge unions to realize this is a fight for survival and try to form serious national and local coalitions with like-minded parent groups. They exist, but they need help and encouragement.

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