Among other things that the Frontline piece documented was that Michelle
Rhee did fire some ineffective principals. After watching the
public education system and experiencing an excellent private school for
several decades, I have become convinced that the most important single
factor in the first 5 or 6 years of a child's education in our system of
education is the principal. A sensible and assertive principal with
the authority of exercising her convictions, including the ability to get
rid of those teachers for whom there is no hope, (a highly unusual
situation) can be extremely effective (a la Nancy Ichinaga).
LA Unified has never had a Michelle Rhee but we do have a writer, Jill
Stewart, who writes about such things and one of her most famous was the
"Dance of the Lemons" in the (since deceased) New Times of LA:
I'll email her and see if she can give me a current URL of the
article or, failing that, a copy of the article itself..
- "This disastrous state of affairs has given rise to the Dance of
the Lemons, a treacherous yearly practice in which the worst principals
are transferred to unsuspecting schools--most often in poor areas where
unknowing local parents will not figure it out for a year or more."
At 06:53 AM 1/9/2013, Haim wrote:
GS Chandy Posted: Jan 9, 2013
>And how many members of the 'Education Mafia' have YOU
>managed to put in jail to date?
The question is: how many members of the Education
Mafia did Michelle Rhee put in the jail?
And, after four years, super-human effort, and lots of money, did Rhee
succeed in reforming what is certainly one of the worst school systems in
the country (ie, lots and lots of low-hanging fruit to pick)?
Correlation? I think so.
According to Frontline, there is evidence of some
improvement in some schools. I believe it. But, as we all
know and as Frontline documents, the Education Mafia comprehensively
defeated the reformers politically. The only reasonable expectation
is a speedy return to status quo ante, and Rhee's tiny perturbation of
the system probably has already dampened to nothing.
Such has been the case in every other reform effort, for
example: California, as Wayne Bishop knows only too well.
To my friends on the right side of the debate I say
again: reform of the existing system is impossible. If we
want to do something constructive, if we want to avoid the specter, a
generation from now, of people just like us (our own children) in forums
just like this one carrying on the same debates in virtually the same
words, we must, must, must explore alternatives to the sisyphean job of
No representation without taxation.