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Frontline's "The Education of Michelle Rhee" deserves a good grade

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Just the other day, I got an email from studentsfirst, the education lobby group launched by education activist Michelle Rhee. It told of a state by state policy report card performed by the group, based on whether state laws are giving schools the tools to do the best job for kids. No state got higher than a B-; North Carolina got a D.

That's the kind of tough-mindedness that has earned Rhee a reputation as a no-nonsense leader. It's also the kind of thing about Rhee that turns a lot of people off.

While watching Frontline's excellent "The Education of Michelle Rhee" (10 tonight, UNC-TV), you'll see both of those groups represented. Frontline was given broad access to Rhee during her three years as chancellor of Washington, D.C. public schools, documenting her highs and lows and her laser focus on trying to build a better school system for the District's children.

Correspondent John Merrow observes and interviews Rhee as she begins her tumultuous term as chancellor, appointed by former mayor Adrian Fenty. She makes clear from the beginning that she's coming on board to make change, change that could cost Fenty everything. Without apparent hesitation, Fenty pledges his full support. (And it costs him everything, politically.)

Rhee goes to work, firing low performing teachers, closing empty schools and angering parents and union members. She gets support from the city council that gives her even more power. And test scores improve.

Rhee believes strongly in tying teacher performance and test scores, and that, it seems, is where things start to fall apart. Schools show dramatic increases in test scores under Rhee, but the tests at several schools also show high erasure rates -- in other words, a lot of test answers seem as if they were erased to correct answers to raise scores. Indeed, the Frontline report has reopened a look at the investigation into the possible cheating.

Someone in "The Education of Michelle Rhee" calls her a zealot and that about nails it. There's no doubt that she cares about children and has a profound sense of what education means to their lives. She knows teachers can't ever phone it in; helping kids learn is too important.

But the report also shows Rhee's flaws. She seems unwillingly to see that there's more than one way to get to the success she wants for students. She shows tremendous passion and care for children, but often treats adults cavalierly. She allows the cameras to show her firing someone; their face isn't shown, but still.

You've got to give Rhee credit for letting the cameras stick around as things went South. One wonders if she regrets it, and after seeing this, if she'd allow that kind of access ever again.

What the Frontline report reveals is a complex portrait of a woman who just might have great contributions to make to the nation's educational system, but who might get in her own way in her attempts to make them.


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Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its continued relevance TODAY!

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) must be upheld by the supreme court:

The numerous despicable attempts to restrict voting made during the last election cycle are proof of that. Anyone who truly believes the VRA is obsolete needs to recognize, given last year's voter suppression efforts, the Jim Crowe era is biding its time.

Now even if you are dumb enough to believe that all is OK with the world and there are no reasons to have the voting rights act on the books. Then why are the the parties at opposite end's on this? Why are the Republicans in America trying to keep people from the poles ?

The argument is that VRA is discriminatory against Southern states to require them but not other states to seek pre-clearance for voting laws; I actually agree. The Voting Rights Act should require *ALL* states to seek pre-clearance. After what we've seen the GOP try to pass in states all across the nation prior to the last 2012 election, I see no reason this safeguard against voter suppression should be limited to just Southern states as suggested by VRA of 1965 but now should be expanded to apply to ALL 50 states.

Ajay Jain
1209 Creekwood Drive
Garland TX 75044-2421

Michelle Rhee the famous former Chancellor of Washington DC Scho

Michelle Rhee - The famous former Washington DC School District Chancellor


Michelle Rhee on OPRAH https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPsqO17f6Lw

Michelle Rhee on abc's ThisWeek https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nep1mcaFthU

Michelle Rhee on The DailyShow with Jon Stewart

pbs.org FRONTLINE: The Education of Michelle Rhee
http://video.pbs.org/video/2323979463/ http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/education-of-michelle-rhee/

Why Teach For America works - Michelle Rhee

A Two-Tier Proposal for Teacher Pay - Michelle Rhee

Time Magazine: Rhee Tackles Classroom Challenge

Michelle Rhee Discusses "Waiting for Superman," Charter Schools And Sch... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLih24QdwH8

Stanford University: A Conversation on "Waiting for Superman" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xzrjo7Fvs1A

"Radical" Fighting to Put Students First should be a must read for all studentsfirst.org members! Michelle Rhee's new book, "RADICAL: Fighting to Put Students First," is now in stores! For more information about where you can find it, to read an excerpt from the book, and to share your story about education in America visit the official site at http://www.edradical.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/edradical.

Michelle Rhee at the ACE 2011 Spring Luncheon https://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=mO9F-amHDuw

Michelle Rhee and Kevin Johnson (4/20/11) https://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=OCcNzh7C_Tk&feature=endscreen

Michelle A. Rhee 03.17.11 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KD0g8Jb9l78

Cornell Alumni: Olin Lecture 2012: Michelle Rhee '92https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwFD-wkAEi8

Harvard Public Health: Michelle Rhee, Former Chancellor of Washington D.C. Public Schoolshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jH0twXcxNUY


Geoffrey Canada - Conversations at KCTS 9
Geoffrey Canada interviewed by Julian Bond: Explorations in Black Leadership ...

"Waiting for Superman" the documentary and Bloomberg documentary "Risk Takers" Michelle Rhee should a required screening for all studentsfirst.org members. I saw them on Netflix and became an instant member of studentsfirst.org and Michelle Rhee follower.

"Won't Back down" the movie is another example to screen to all studentsfirst.org members.

Share the reasons you fight for education reform. Your story will inspire others to get involved. So tell us: Why are you working to put students first? http://www.studentsfirst.org/facebook-story

Check out today's blog by StudentsFirst staffer Charity Hallman, "One size fits all, or so they said," on The Fordham Institute's "Education Gadfly Daily: FLYPAPER" blog.

To view the Fordham study, "When Teachers Choose Pension Plans: The Florida Story," visit http://www.studentsfirst.org/fordham-study-on-fl-teacher-pension-reform

Watch MAKER videos on StudentFirst Founder Michelle Rhee visit www.makers.com/michelle-rhee

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About the blogger

Adrienne Johnson Martin would like to have her life turned into an animated cartoon. E-mail Adrienne.