Michelle Rhee praises Democrats on education
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Michelle Rhee, often hailed by conservatives as a leader for reform in education during her stormy tenure as chancellor of the public school system in the District of Columbia, surprised admirers yesterday when she praised President Obama for the Democrats and the party’s federally-based approach to education. Rhee also said she disagrees “100 percent” with Mitt Romney and the Republican Party platform in call for greater local control of public education.
As Human Events once placed Michelle Rhee in a Romney “Dream Cabinet” as secretary of education, we feel that, after this interview, it’s very unlikely to happen.
In an interview with the “Hechinger Report” on Wednesday, Rhee hailed Obama’s federal education approach, citing the “Race to the Top” which grants federal dollars to states that undergo several changes required by the U.S. Department of Education. She also said “(t)here’s a lot of federal funding that there’s no accountability around,” mentioning the Title 1 funding given to schools based on their low-income student enrollment. Congress approved $14.5 billion for Title 1 for the 2012-13 school year.
Rhee, a target of teachers’ unions while heading the DC school system, also told Hechinger that Democrats will not be as beholden to the unions in the future they don’t have the numbers or pack the political punch they used to.
As she told “Hechinger,” “It’s a new day for the Democratic Party. It’s not a monolith that’s just going to side with the teachers unions come what may.” The former school chancellor went on to point out that the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which is heavily Democratic, unanimously passed resolutions calling for teacher evaluations and the right of parents to take over failing schools — Rhee’s husband, Sacramento, Calif. Mayor Kevin Johnson is chairman of the Resolutions Committee of the Conference.
While Rhee, who is a Democrat, agrees with Romney on school vouchers in some circumstances, she said she disagrees with his call and that of the GOP platform for local control of education “100 percent.”
“We had 14,000 school boards in this country making the decisions for a long time and that is why we ended up where we ended up,” Rhee said, noting that often school boards aren’t composed of educators. “I don’t think local folks know everything.”
“We should not say, well, that kids in Jackson, Miss., should be held accountable to different learning standards to the kids in Beverley Hills to the kids in Worcester, Mass. These children are not going to be competing for jobs against each other. They’re going to be competing for jobs against kids in India and China, and we’re going to have to have a sense of how each of these kids is doing.”