There’s good news for public education in Alabama and Connecticut, as the Michelle Rhee breed of privatizers and corporate reformers were thwarted in both states, at least partially and at least for now. In Alabama, “a radical, far-reaching charter bill that would have allowed wholesale privatization of public education in the state” was declared dead in the state House for the session just ending. And in Connecticut, legislators fought Gov. Dannel Malloy’s initial, teacher-scapegoating plan and gave teachers unions a voice in arriving at a compromise.
Michelle Rhee and StudentsFirst were involved in the efforts in both states. Though StudentsFirst is attempting to claim victory in Connecticut, even Malloy at the height of his teacher-bashing saw Rhee as “divisive” and refused to appear with her, and the presidents of the state’s teachers unions make clear that the compromise legislation does not meet the Rhee standard:
“At its lowest point, the debate demonized teachers,” Apruzzese said. “Fortunately, with leadership in the Education Committee and in the House and Senate, the state turned a corner and put the emphasis on where it belongs: more pre-K, early literacy, health and social supports for disadvantaged students, respect for teachers bargaining rights, improved and fair teacher evaluation and dismissal, and access to innovative programs with proven track records.”
Alabama’s governor was a Rhee fan, calling her in to personally be involved in the charter schools push without the knowledge of the state’s Board of Education or schools superintendent. When the state to which you were invited doesn’t pass the bill you were there to work on, and you were considered too divisive even by the official working hardest to scapegoat teachers in the state that did pass a bill, it has to count as pair of losses. No matter what the StudentsFirst press release about Connecticut tries to claim.