If someone unfamiliar with the state of education reform in this country were to watch this little lovefest with Stephanopoulis and Michelle Rhee, they might be left with the conclusion that she's a Democrat with a hunger to fix the schools, a radical reformer who independently decided she would take her mighty years of experience with DC Schools and carry the message to the masses.
Of course, that's exactly what Rhee wants, and Stephanopoulis delivered. No uncomfortable questions from George about the DC cheating scandal, her ties to the for-profit privatization movement, or what, exactly, is wrong with our public schools. Instead, we get this:
STEPHANOPOULOS: We've also seen that there's been a backlash, though, against how we assess how schools and teachers are doing. Just this week, teachers in Seattle saying we're not going to go forward with these standardized tests anymore. A lot of parents resisting it, as well.
RHEE: Yeah. Well, I think we've got to strike a balance. You don't want a situation where there's an overemphasis on testing, but at the same time, we had decades where there was no accountability whatsoever and our school system was graduating kids who didn't have basic skills and knowledge. They couldn't read and do math appropriately and at grade level, and that means they couldn't find appropriate jobs.
There's an exchange just begging for a follow-up question, right? What does "strike a balance" mean? And how is it credible for Michelle Rhee to claim there's a need to strike a balance when she is the queen of using test results to denigrate schools and teachers across the nation?
Of course, the purpose of the interview was to let her pimp her new book, which comes out tomorrow. That would be the same book where she uses a non-profit organization (StudentsFirst) funded by the likes of Rupert Murdoch and the DeVos family to push her brand of "Rhee-form" -- privatization of our public school system.
It still doesn't let GSteph off the hook. Even in this New York Times interview, the question of the cheating scandal came up to at least remind people that Rhee's career and subsequent fame has come via scandal, not substance.
It aggravates me that this woman is involved at any level in our debate over improving public schools --not only because I don't agree with her on a policy level, but because she is pushing the message of the right-wing school reformers who see public education as a money tree waiting to be shaken.
This is a woman who believes teachers are not professionals and can therefore be replaced with bright-eyed future hedge fund managers who serve a couple of years and move on. She believes classrooms can be sardined with sixty students and one good teacher and learning will happen. Forget student safety or any semblance of individual instruction. Just plop those kids down and crank up the 'structured learning programs' developed by companies that ask questions about pineapples and rabbits and it'll all be good. The test scores will prove it!
GSteph could have asked Rhee what she thought about Jeb Bush and ALEC's involvement in promoting privatization interests in Florida. That would have been revealing. But he didn't.
Instead, he served as her Rhee-seller. When does media stop giving this woman a pass and start looking at what she is really trying to do to public education in this country?