Michelle Rhee takes her education approach and union busting nationwide
Michelle Rhee, former superintendent of the Washington DC schools, was on NPR Saturday night, discussing her new advocacy group, StudentsFirst.
Care to guess what the objectives are?
"Over the last 30 years, the education policy has been driven in this country by lots of special interest groups, including the teachers union," she says. "I think that one of the missing pieces is that there is no organized national interest group that has the heft that the unions and the other groups do who are advocating on behalf of children."
StudentsFirst will be working with governors and legislatures in what she calls "anchor states" that are interested in adapting all or most of its policy agenda. It will also be focusing on getting rid of "last in, first out" (LIFO) provisions across the country. Under these provisions, junior teachers — even those who are the most competent — are let go before more senior teachers during layoffs.
Rhee says StudentsFirst will base its policies on the best options for students, including the use of vouchers, which is not something you normally hear from Democrats.
In the actual interview she lets the budget cat out of the bag: It's cheaper to hire new, less experienced teachers and it takes more of the younger, less experienced, lower paid teachers to make up the budget gaps. So it pays to get rid of older, more experienced, higher paid teachers. Corporations have known this and been doing it for years: Most layoffs in my former Big Teleommunications borg were of people very close to and over 50.
Ms. MICHELLE RHEE (StudentsFirst, Former Chancellor, Washington, D.C. Public Schools): Over the last 30 years, the education policy has been driven in this country by lots of special interest groups, including the teachers union. And I think that one of the missing pieces is that there is no organized national interest group that has the heft that the unions and the other groups do who are advocating on behalf of children.
So, we're going to be doing a few things. One: we're going to be working in a few anchor states where the governor and legislature are interested in adapting all or a significant percentage of our policy agenda. We're also going to be working across the country on certain agenda items as well.
So, for example, the first one that we're going to be launching is to try to get rid of LIFO provisions - that's Last In First Out. When layoffs are conducted in this country of teachers, they are conducted by seniority, which means that the most junior teachers are let go first...
RAZ: Even if they're the best. [Note: It was so good of the interviewer to make Rhee's point for her!]
Ms. RHEE: Even if they're the best. And these what we call LIFO provisions make absolutely no sense for children because the research shows that, number one, that you end up firing some of your best teachers; number two, you have to fire more teachers because the junior teachers pay [Note: "are paid," I think she means] the least so you have to fire more of them to cover the budget deficit; and then three, that it disproportionately negatively impacts the lowest-performing schools, the highest-needs schools, because they have the largest number of new teachers.
So, the policies are absolutely not good for children. We understand that they may serve some adult interests, but that is a policy that nationwide we're going to have a heavy campaign to try to change. (My emphasis)
So, after all is said and done, it's the Cheap Labor they're after. Even "life long Democrat" Michelle Rhee.
Now, how is that the Dems differ from the Repubs? At least at the DC level....