When the citizens of Washington, D.C., shot themselves in the foot, doomed their children to another decade of hopelessness in education, ousted their current mayor, it also meant that Michelle Rhee was going to be looking for a new job.
And the feisty reformer could have had her pick of jobs. Mayors and governors across the country were falling over themselves, trying to nab the woman who had stood up to unions to create a better system. There easily could have been a bidding war to land this trailblazer to head their education departments.
Or Rhee could feasibly have chosen to take a position in the private sector, easily earning millions. So which high-paying, prestigious job did this affluential activist choose? None of the above.
Rhee instead has decided to start her own advocacy group to overhaul school systems nationwide. As she explained in her cover story for Newsweek:
"There is no big organized interest group that defends and promotes the interests of children... School boards who are beholden to special interests have created a bureaucracy that is focused on the adults instead of the students... The rationale for the decisions mostly rests on which grown-ups will be affected, instead of what will benefit or harm children... What that means is that the reform community has to exert influence as well. That’s why I’ve decided to start StudentsFirst, a national movement to transform public education in our country. "
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Rhee said the organization will donate to candidates who agree with her policies. Her group will also give funds to local school districts to further her vision -- for example, boosting teacher pay while agreeing to make it easier to fire under-performing teachers. The article includes this quote:
“We are trying to shift the balance of power in the education landscape away from the powerful groups who want to keep the status quo,” Ms. Rhee said, referring to organizations such as the teacher’s unions. “We are going to be the group that is advocating on behalf of kids.”
Well, Oprah is on board, and I have a feeling that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg will not be far behind. If all of us who agree that there has to be a seminal change in our education systems across the nation -- if we also hop on the train, we can only go up from here.
Learn more about the organization or make a donation on their website.