Follow PACE on:

Michelle Rhee to Start National Reform Movement
posted by: Megan | December 08, 2010, 03:54 PM   

Rhee argued that her group would be a special interest for American students, not other influential special interests that have created gridlock. "From the National Rifle Association to the pharmaceutical industry to the tobacco lobby, powerful interests put pressure on our elected officials and government institutions to sway or stop change," she said. "Education is no different. We have textbook manufacturers, teachers' unions and even food vendors that work hard to dictate and determine policy. The public-employee unions in D.C., including the teachers' union, spent huge sums of money to defeat Fenty. . . but there is no big organized interest group that defends and promotes the interests of children."

Rhee and her team have a goal of raising $1 billion to promote "transformative reform," primarily by backing laws and political candidates, from local school boards to Congress. Incorporated as a 501(c)(4), Students First will be designed primarily for political advocacy. The site asks for interested parties to sign up as "members" with various monetary contribution levels.

"I think she's envisioning an organization that is going to step in and do the political lifting and political advocacy behind reform efforts that would have been good to have in D.C," said Rick Hess, director of educational policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. "How effectively they will be able to do that and how muscular they'll be remains to be seen."

Michelle Rhee has been no stranger to creating advocates and adversaries as she promotes her agenda. Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT, challenged Rhee, "We wish Michelle Rhee well and hope she learns, as we have, that promoting education reform through conflict and division will not serve the interests of children and their educational needs."

Michelle Rhee seems up for the challenge as she called for an aggressive approach. "We cannot shy away from conflict," she boasts in her essay. "Right now," she said, "what we need to do is fight."
If Students First can build on the star power of Michelle Rhee with $1 billion and advocates like Oprah, it will certainly become a force with which to be reckoned.

What do you think of this new organization? How do you feel about an "interest group" for students?
Comment below.


Originally posted by Alix on AAE's website.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Submit a comment
 (not published)
smaller | bigger