UPDATE, March 14, 2013: Michelle Rhee, below left, didn't slip quietly into San Diego this week. As Maureen Magee reports on UTSanDiego:
[Rhee] arrived in San Diego on the heels of the San Diego school board’s decision to name elementary school principal Cindy Marten, at left, as its next superintendent.
Rhee’s advice to Marten: “Good luck. Don’t let the crazies run you out of town.”
Can Marten learn from Rhee?
Looking back on her time [as Chancellor of the Washington, D.C.] public schools, Rhee said she learned an important lesson too late: communicate and market your plans to the public.
“How you do things is just as important as what you do,” she said. "That's where we fell short."
March 12,2013: Rhee was in San Diego as yesterday's keynoter in the four-day 20th annual California Charter Schools conference (CCSA) that concludes today.
The controversial (see story below) CEO and founder of StudentsFirst, Michelle Rhee, told the CCSA: "Working in education over the past twenty years, time after time I saw obstacles keeping kids from getting what they needed... there were challenges that were going to be difficult to overcome no matter what, but so many practices just didn't make sense and were completely within our power to change. When I tried to change them, I found out why the status quo had persisted for so long."
The other scheduled speakers for the conference included Geoffrey Canada, the founder and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone; Jed Wallace, president and CEO of California Charter Schools; Congressman George Miller; Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson (married to Rhee); Penny Schwinn, head of Capitol Collegiate Academy & Sacramento COE Board Member.
According to Gary Warth reporting for the U-T San Diego Newspaper, while the conference focuses on charter schools, many workshops are on topics relevant to all schools, including budget planning, retirement savings, solar energy and health insurance.
Other topics are much more specific to charter schools, with topics including changes in charter school accreditation, laws that apply to charter schools and how expulsions and suspensions are different in charter schools. There is variety of issues related to charter schools. One session deals with how charter schools can use libraries and urban spaces, and another session focuses on lessons learned from charter school fraud and mismanagement.Written by Taylor McCulloch.
February 5, 2013: Michelle Rhee, (at left in a photo by Max Whittaker for Reuters) for chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools, who, as a result, carries the media-tag ID "controversial education reformer" (and who is the wife of Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson), has changed her mind about school vouchers. In Radical: Fighting to Put Students First (Harper, 2012), which has an official publication date of today, Rhee confesses (andthe Daily Beast reprints):
...I drew a very deep line in the sand when it came to vouchers. As a lifelong Democrat I was adamantly against vouchers. Vouchers provide public funds to parents who need help in paying tuition for private or parochial schools. Proponents, mostly Republicans, see vouchers as leveling the field and broadening choice for families. Detractors, usually Democrats, decry the use of public funds to pay for private education. I had bought into the arguments that Democrats and others use in opposition to vouchers: vouchers are a way of taking money away from public school systems and putting them into private schools; vouchers help only a handful of the kids; and vouchers take children and resources away from the schools and districts that need those resources the most...for all of those reasons, my view on vouchers was set. But soon after I arrived in Washington, D.C., I was in a pickle. The District of Columbia had Opportunity Scholarships, a federally funded voucher program [School Choice Incentive Act, 2003] that helped poor families attend private schools. The program was up for reauthorization, and there was a heated debate going on in the city....
After [a] listening tour of families, and hearing so many parents plead for an immediate solution to their desire for a quality education, I came out in favor of the voucher program. People went nuts...the most vocal detractors were my biggest supporters.
“Michelle, what are you doing?” one education reformer asked. “You are the first opportunity this city has had to fix the system. We believe in you and what you’re trying to do. But you have to give yourself a fighting chance! You need time and money to make your plan work. If during that time children continue fleeing the system on these vouchers, you’ll have less money to implement your reforms. You can’t do this to yourself!”
“Here’s the problem with your thinking,” I’d answer. “My job is not to preserve and defend a system that has been doing wrong by children and families. My job is to make sure that every child in this city attends an excellent school. I don’t care if it’s a charter school, a private school, or a traditional district school...."
Here’s the question we Democrats need to ask ourselves: Are we beholden to the public school system at any cost, or are we beholden to the public school child at any cost?...