I posted themail's editor Gary Imhoff's insightful editorial on Rhee over at ed notes last week and there were some interesting comments. One of the insightful comments is from a parent activist in Oakland.
Perimeter Primate doesn't post often, but when she does she brings an insightful parent perspective from the perimeter.
Here is some follow-up from at week's themail posted at Norms Notes – More on Rhee in DC from themail.
Ira Socol's (Who's Behind the Curtain?) makes some great points (see the ones on interest-based reading which are so similar to my thoughts in this morning's post) on why Rhee is being pushed and by whom. Here's an excerpt but go read the entire piece here.
Which brings us back to Michelle Rhee. Who's marketing her, and why?COMING SOON: Ed NOTES' EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MICHELLE RHEE
Rhee is part of a broad push by America's true "old guard" to ensure that education doesn't really change. The same folks at Harvard and Penn who offer our minorities the lowest educational expectations possible through Teach for America and KIPP Academies, are selling you Rhee, and lowered expectations for all schools - except of course, for the schools attended by the children of those elites.
There is a reason the television networks and New York Times and Time-Warner love TFA and Rhee. These organizations are run by people with power, and by people who would rather not share power.
So they have adopted the ultimate in reductionist standards. "If we had even decent education - or even enough teachers of any kind - in most of the places it places its students, then [TFA] would be a step down," a commenter on this blog said yesterday. Right, so here's the standard: Teach for America, or Michelle Rhee's DC school system, is better than not having schools at all.
Rhee's own words: '"People say, 'Well, you know, test scores don't take into account creativity and the love of learning,'" she says with a drippy, grating voice, lowering her eyelids halfway. Then she snaps back to herself. "I'm like, 'You know what? I don't give a crap.' Don't get me wrong. Creativity is good and whatever. But if the children don't know how to read, I don't care how creative you are. You're not doing your job."'
No, she doesn't give a crap. She wants her African-American students prepared for the lowest possible jobs on the economic ladder. That way (perhaps, in her unconscious thinking) they will not threaten the success of her small minority group - a group which has found itself accepted by the powers-that-be because it isn't big enough to be threatening.
Of course I have a different view of reading than Rhee, and of language itself. First, I know that there are lots of ways "to read," and second, I know that when children are inspired to learn about things, they tend to want to learn to read (in one form or another). As opposed to the Joel Klein-Michelle Rhee-KIPP Academy-George W. Bush notion that reading is a skill which should be learned outside of the context of interest-based education.
But then, my goal is opportunity, and my belief system - not being market-capitalist in nature - doesn't think an underclass is a good idea (to hold down upward pressure on wages).
Rhee is not important, of course. She's racist in her expectations and racist in her strategies, she's not an educator at all in the real meaning of that term, she talks a great deal but has little actual impact in her job. But Rhee being hailed as the educational messiah is important.
Like those who favor TFA solutions - the Rhee idea is to NOT change US society. Yes, we'll make impoverished minority groups marginally more competent - thus improving profits at the top and reducing the cost of the dole. But no, we will not empower those groups by empowering their children. Teaching them to be creative 'will have to wait' (forever). Teaching them to find their own learning styles - thus accepting cultural change instead of social reproduction - is dangerous (as it always is for those at the top).
We lower expectations. We test meaningless things (Time: "The ability to improve test scores is clearly not the only sign of a good teacher. But it is a relatively objective measure in an industry with precious few. And in schools where kids are struggling to read and subtract, it is a prerequisite for getting anything else done." Really? Anything? You can't teach the physics of a bouncing ball to a non-reader, or the love of literature?). We strip time away from what is precious to children and force them into chanting. We enforce white majority cultural norms and deny identity. We argue that teachers should be paid according to the "short term gain" rules that worked so well for traders at Citigroup and AIG.
And this is all brought to you by the wealthiest people, and the largest old-line corporations in the country. Because, I'll say it again, they have no incentive to allow those below them to succeed.