For all the criticism that conservatives get for being intolerant of “moderates” in the Republican Party, we don’t vilify our own the way left wing extremists seem to vilify Michelle Rhee.
Rhee, a Democrat, has become one of the most vocal supporters of education reform, something teachers unions and the extremist left oppose. They’ve already run her and now former mayor Adrian Fenty, another Democrat, out of Washington DC where they tried reforming the worst public education system in the country (side now, President Obama sat by counting his donations from the unions while this was going on). Now, according to an article in the Daily News, they’re attacking Rhee personally for being a “Cheat, Fraud, and Failure.”
When you can’t beat someone with ideas trying to destroy them personally is the most logical step, and while the DN dismisses each of those charges, here are some of the radical ideas that the far left of the Democratic Party opposes…
Rhee’s rapid-fire school reforms during her three-and-a-half years here focused mostly on teacher quality, the core issue in this current national clash – and the key reform she now pushes nationally through her new advocacy group, Students First. In Washington, Rhee fired teachers she thought were bad. A few (very few) school chiefs have tried to do that, but not successfully. Rhee, by contrast, pushed 400 teachers out the door. When forced to lay off teachers she refused to dismiss them by the seniority rule known as last in, first out, insisting, rather, that principals choose their lower performing teachers. Most school superintendents stick to last in, first out. Why ruffle feathers?
Rhee built a rigorous teacher evaluation system that brings master educators into the class to observe teachers at work. Most teacher evaluation systems are flabby and useless – a perfect match for a traditional teacher compensation system that ignores effectiveness and instead rewards longevity and degrees earned.
Finally, Rhee pushed hard against paying teachers on that lockstep formula. Rather, teachers received bonuses based in part on improvements in student scores.
Firing bad teachers and rewarding good teachers. She’s a witch.