During my lifetime, I’m not sure that I’ve witnessed anyone who has been more polarizing in the field of education than D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee. Very few people are in between on her – it’s definitely a love or hate kind of situation. I must admit, however, that I am one of the few. She has been both very good for the field of education and very bad – and this stretches beyond the confines of D.C.
If you think that there’s nothing wrong with the field of education, then, well, there’s something wrong with your line of thinking. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. We are at a crossroads in this country as we continue to drop down the world’s rankings. More importantly than these rankings, however, is the fact that we are failing our young students daily. There are many reasons for this – and many people have no issue with spouting off their opinions – including members of the media.
Working in this field exposes many raw nerves. We’ve been inundated with information about how poor teachers are ruining our society. If only it were this simple. But if you read the press on “Waiting for Superman” and watched the puff piece on Oprah, then perhaps this is all you would believe, because that’s what you’ve been led to believe. Better yet, if you listen to Rhee on her press tours, you would definitely have this message pounded into your head.
Let’s get real – there are bad teachers who are being protected by our unions and this is dragging down the rest of us. We should be appalled that this happens, and until we stand up and announce that this isn’t acceptable to us, then we are just as much to blame. Yes, the powerful teachers’ unions need to accept some blame in what’s going on as well. I’ve said this many, many times in the not so distant past: We are many times our own worst enemy.
So Michelle Rhee resigned today – October 13th. I’m fully aware that the Chilean miners are in the process of being rescued today and that this will fill much of today’s news flow. However, since the announcement was made that Rhee would be resigning today, I have seen nothing on the front pages of either CNN or MSNBC – both sites which have covered her rise ad nauseum as well as her attacks. Both sites have been on the “Waiting for Superman” bandwagon and have run articles on what’s wrong with education.
And now, the chancellor of probably the 2nd most important district in our country right now – and the one who, in my opinion has brought the most attention on herself, has resigned and these sites are… silent. Hmmm… I’m just not completely sure what’s going on here. Run out of room on those pages?
I believe in many of the same things that Michelle Rhee believes in – all students deserve nothing but quality teachers, the weakest teachers – no matter the seniority – should be weeded out, and that pay needs to be increased in order to attract and keep the best and the brightest. I don’t believe that she necessarily went about this in the correct way. But perhaps that’s just my take. At the very least, however, when you’ve put yourself out there, as she has, and then you resign your post prior to getting fired by the Mayor-elect (as was going to happen), well those news sites should be there to cover this as well.