Michael - with all due respect, I have been following Rhee and her commentary from the launch and seeing first hand how her rhetoric and propaganda has been delivered to and received by the public. I have had scores of people talk to me about their perceptions of teachers and education. Soon after Rhee launched StudentsFirst, the flavor of the discussions changed with people I know becoming more embittered to teachers and naming them as the sole reason why American students are 20-whatever in the world. Nearly overnight I became a part of this ambiguous "status quo" and someone who has wrecked budgets and damaged kids because I am a member of a union. Nearly to the person, I heard word for word the same rhetoric and propaganda, nearly word for word, Rhee spouted on her national TV talk media launch blitz.
I wrote the following: " The reason why STEM teachers aren't jumping the broom is because (as we predicted) the smear campaign of StudentsFirst and other reformers against teachers and the institution as a whole has left a PR image of education as a cesspool of angry ineffective cronies who dance at the strings of unions and care nothing about kids or their learning or well being."
I believe if you objectively read the following posts from the standpoint of someone trying to evaluate the profession and determining a career choice/change, the following passages from Rhee blogs reinforce my point that StudentsFirst and other reformers have left a PR image of education as a cesspool and that the tone of these posts is not flattering, inviting and effectively paints the institution in a totally negative light fraught with insurmountable problems that only Rhee can champion and fix:
"Still, I could have done a better job of communicating. I did a particularly bad job letting the many good teachers know that I considered them to be the most important part of the equation. I totally fell down on doing that. As a result, my comments about ineffective teachers were often perceived as an attack on all teachers." "Some people believed I had disdain for the public. It’s not that I wasn’t listening; I just didn’t agree and went in a different direction. There’s no way you can please everyone." "The U.S. is currently 21st, 23rd, and 25th among 30 developed nations in science, reading, and math, respectively. The public-employee unions in D.C., including the teachers’ union, spent huge sums of money to defeat Fenty. The focus remains on what jobs, contracts, and departments are getting which cuts, additions, or changes. The rationale for the decisions mostly rests on which grown-ups will be affected, instead of what will benefit or harm children. The purpose of the teachers’ union is to protect the privileges, priorities, and pay of their members. And they’re doing a great job of that. Conflict was necessary in order to move the agenda forward. There are some fundamental disagreements that exist right now about what kind of progress is possible and what strategies will be most effective. Right now, what we need to do is fight." 12/6/10 Newsweek."Ultimately, a great teacher is someone who gets results. If two students with similar backgrounds go to similar schools and take similar classes, and one of those students outperforms the other, it might seem fair to say that that student had a better teacher.""We will fight to get rid of these bad policies and practices so that every child has an excellent teacher in his or her classroom.""Challenge the status quo to always push for the right priorities, ""I’m sure you hate it when your child gets an ineffective teacher, and you probably wonder why that teacher is still in the classroom. Often your school leaders feel the same way, but they usually don’t have full power to choose their workers. Second, some of the silent issues that never get talked about are eating away at your schools’ ability to be effective, like a trend toward central district bureaucracy.""In the book version of Waiting for “Superman”, Michelle describes one overcrowded high school class where kids not even enrolled showed up every day because they felt this teacher offered them the best opportunity to learn, even though some of them would get no credit for the course.""If we were to grade the academic performance of the world’s industrialized economies, Singapore, South Korea, and now Shanghai would get an A — the United States would get a C, at best, and in math we'd get an F.Background or socioeconomic status, while influential, is not the determining factor in how well a student can perform. And as I discussed in a blog post yesterday, great teaching can overcome the circumstances that put our kids behind those of other world powers.The bottom line: We need to fight to transform our underperforming education system, overcome the vested interests that stand in the way of progress, and work to ensure that our kids have the best schools in the world."
--------The clear implication and takeaway by the public is that the poor performance on the PISA is because of a lack of "great teachers.""This week Mayor Villaraigosa called the LA Teachers’ Union to task for obstructing reform by defending an unacceptable status quo in the Los Angeles Public Schools. I’ve never been of the mind that unions shouldn’t exist. I was in one when I was a teacher, and I believe they can play a role in reform by compromising with the newly backed interests (like StudentsFirst) who are representing children. ""Michelle gets to the heart of how the needs of teachers’ unions and students don't always align, and why America needs a strong counterweight to the special interest groups that have long dictated education policy.""StudentsFirst scored its first Newsmaker interview to help explain the new study that finds a link between good teachers and good student test scores. Why should you care? StudentsFirst and other reform groups believe a significant part of a teacher’s evaluation should be based on how his or her students demonstrate progress on tests and this study seems to support that practice."
This is a comment by Dave Russell over at the SF FB page: