"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Voters Have Spoken: Rhee Must Go

With days to prepare for the inevitable, the Washington Post has a lengthy political obituary this morning for the defeated Fenty, and Michelle Rhee and the corporate ed deformers get two lines.  The Post's editors would rather focus on Fenty's tin political ear and forget that the voters have soundly rejected the billionaire boys club (BBC) who want to take over DC and the DC Schools.  Fenty was deep into the pockets of the white oligarchs, and his bowing to Broad and Gates and the Waltons to put Rhee in charge of schools was and is the most visible symbol of a political hand-off to philanthro-capitalism in the nation's capitol.  Now Fenty's defeat is the most visible symbol of the voters' repudiation of government run by venture capital and vulture philanthropy "supermen."

Robert McCartney has a commentary in WaPo this morning that points out many of policy faults of the snarling Michelle Rhee, but somehow they are painted, too, as personality flaws, rather than the steamrolling and bullying by a corporate board intent upon making DC the urban model for corporate education.  In spite of all the flaws, McCartney urges Gray to go slow, dance the soft shoe, and keep Rhee.  Right.

Valerie Strauss has a slightly different take, urging Gray to act swiftly to make it clear who is running the schools.  Unfortunately, she misses the revolutionary aspect of this historic vote and fails to attribute the Fenty drubbing to voters sick of corporate hubris without boundaries and corporate welfare run amok.  Strauss goes on to argue that the acceptance of the $75 million from the Duncan RTTT bribery fund will assure that DC Schools are locked in to BBC's policies, whether or not Rhee is fired.  What an odd conclusion, when in fact, the one-shot $75 million represent less than 10 percent of DC's annual school budget of almost $760 million.  Since when would a superintendent or mayor be held hostage by such a commitment. 

If Gray wants to be the conciliator, his first act should be to fire the one person who stands most squarely in the way of that goal.  Not only would firing Rhee serve that aspiration, but it would also send a message to the Foundation Supermen that he is not for sale, a message that will make DC voters that could once again have a voice in their city.

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