This Newsweek article about Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of the Washington D.C. public schools, and her plans for a Studentsfirst, is an exciting one. She, like many others in the country (and indeed in our very own city!) is concerned about the dismal state of public education in this country: the United States is currently 21st, 23rd and 25th among 30 developed nations in science, reading and math, respectively. In fact, children in school today will be the first generation to be less educated than the previous one. Rhee points out this is not always just a shortage of financial resources, but a combination of other factors.

Many of Rhee’s observations as mentioned in the article are particularly germane to Do The Right Thing For Kids, including:

  • The importance of money and influence: there are groups representing teachers, text- book manufacturers and various other vendors who use their power to influence government decision. HOWEVER, she points out, there is no large, organized group with a mission to defend and promote the interest of children. (Hence her new endeavor: Studentsfirst and ours in DTRT.)
  • This lack of emphasis on the children leads instead to an emphasis on adults…and the needs they demand. She cites the propensity of school boards to focus on contracts, jobs in the district, cuts, additions etc…without the words children, students, kids even being mentioned. (Hence the DTRT Report Card)
  • Rhee talks about the importance of family involvement as being key to student achievement, but also says the entire community must be engaged in the effort to improve our schools.
  • Rhee also points out the importance of understanding the role of politics in effecting positive change. She supports non-partisanship, but reminds us all that we must endorse and support school board candidates and politicians seeking City, State and Federal elected office.
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