Why Alabama Doesn‟t Need Michelle Rhee
by BATs - Marla Kilfoyle and Terri Michal
The corporate reform agenda Michelle Rhee represents is NOT about Civil Rights!Michele Rhee does not promote educational equality for the African American community. She andher StudentsFirst organization profits while schools in predominantly urban minority communities arebeing closed around the nation. It is beyond comprehension that Rhee would speak during anycelebration of the Civil Rights movement and that she be considered to speak at the 16th StreetBaptist Church where 4 young girls were murdered in a bombing spurred by hate and prejudice
consider what Rhee has done to further civil rights
nothing. In fact, Rhee along with Rep. Jay Loveand Charlotte Meadows (a former StudentsFirst Lobbyist) helped to push for passage of the Alabama Accountability Act which opened the door for Charters in the state. The problem is that these chartersare not designed to elevate the poor and/or minority. In fact the Southern Poverty Law Center is
currently challenging the law because it contends that transfers are inaccessible to Alabama‟s poor
families. Low income
parents can‟t afford private school tuition even with
the new tax credit but tomake matters even worse, it siphons money that should be spent on resourcing and assisting failingschools in these communities and puts it in the private sector.
Let‟s look at the effects Michelle Rhee and her Corporate Reform agenda has had in other urban
communities around the United States:INCREASED ACHIEVEMENT GAP IN D.C.
The most disturbing effect of Ms. Rhee‟s reform effort is the widening gap in academic performance
between low-income and upper-income students, a meaningful statistic in Washington, where raceand income are highly correlated. On the most recent NAEP test (2011) only about 10% of low-
income students in grades 4 and 8 scored „proficient‟ in reading and math. Since 2007, the
performance gap has increased by 29 percentile points in 8th grade reading, by 44 in 4th gradereading, by 45 in 8th grade math, and by 72 in 4th grade math. Although these numbers are alsoinfluenced by changes in high- and low-income populations, the gaps are so extreme that is seemsclear that low-income students, most of them African-American, generally did not fare well during Ms.
Rhee‟s time in Washington. Washington‟s high school graduation rate is the lowest in the nation.
Rhee closed more than 2 dozen schools.*CHEATING AND BUDGET SCANDAL THAT DEMEANS STUDENTS AND TEACHERS IN D.C.
March 2011 USA Today reported on a rash of „wrong
right‟ erasures on standardized tests and theChancellor‟s reluctance to investigate. With subsequent tightened test security, Rhee‟s dramatic test
scores gains have all but disappeared. Consider Aiton Elementary: The year before Ms. Rhee arrived,18% of Aiton students scored proficient in math and 31% in reading. Scores soared to nearly 60% onher watch, but by 2012 both reading and math scores had plunged more than 40 percentile points.*One of
the first things that happened during Rhee‟s time in D.C. was that she announced that there
was a multi-million dollar shortfall in the education budget. Shortly thereafter, she fired 241 D.C.P.Steachers, citing the need to make huge budget cuts. After the firings, the monies were suddenlyfound. Rhee and her CFO, Noah Webman, said that the problem with the missing millions was
“accounting mistake.” Once the lost money was restored to the education coffer‟s books, Rhee went
on a hiring spree, filling many
vacancies with….you guessed it!…Teach for America teachers. Later,
Webman said, under oath, in a hearing with the DC city council, that he and Rhee had devised the
“accounting error.” Currently, one of the teachers fired is pursuing a fraud charge against