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Michelle Rhee Responds to AFT Criticism

August 30, 2011

Not a lot of time to post right now but wanted to pass along this link and story on DailyKos about Rhee responding to the American Federation of Teacher’s criticism:

RheeFirst is a reasonably useful source of material critical of Michelle Rhee; it was, frankly,not a huge shock to hear that the site originated with the American Federation of Teachers. But Rhee’s StudentsFirst’s reaction is a bit rich:

Unfortunately, this is just the latest report of an ostensibly organic, grassroots voice attacking reform proponents that has in fact turned out to be secretly backed by the teachers’ unions. There are a number of disagreements between teacher-union advocates and student advocates about the future of the our schools that deserve serious consideration, but there’s no room for these kinds of personal and duplicitous attacks. We look forward to AFT offering a formal response, but we hope that response will say that they will cease these kinds of astroturf and gorilla tactics. They are unbecoming of the not only the civil discourse the AFT says they want but also that our students deserve.

First off, we’ve got StudentsFirst, an organization that makes a lot of claims about being grassroots despite being funded by Rupert Murdoch and other billionaires, complaining that something funded by the dues money of hundreds of thousands of teachers isn’t sufficiently grassroots.

Second, the hand-wringing about personal attacks and civil discourse is astoundingly nervy coming from a spokesperson for Michelle Rhee, a woman whose claims to fame include inviting a camera crew to set up and film her firing someone (seen in the video above), and whose entire framing of her policy agenda is one sustained attack on teachers—on the care they devote to their students, on their work ethics, on the notion that teaching is a skilled job at all, and on their ability to make a livelihood. Just the opposition in this statement between “teacher-union advocates and student advocates” in one contemptuous and demeaning twist makes the claim that teachers don’t care about students. If you bother to pay attention to what goes on in schools, you’ll know exactly how personal of an insult this is to teachers everywhere.

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