Wednesday, January 16, 2013

California Flunks Rhee’s Reform Ratings—Badge of Honor?

Image adapted from Flickr image by Calsidyrose

Michelle Rhee’s Students First advocacy group issued its ratings of state reform efforts last week. California was ranked 41st nationally, with an overall score of F, according to the Los Angeles Times.  According to Students First, California has been asleep at the wheel with respect to the “reforms,” failing to limit teacher tenure and require student test scores to evaluate teachers.

Richard Zeiger, Deputy Supt. at the California Department of Education called the F grade a "badge of honor."

While it may be refreshing to hear a high ranking education official disparage Rhee’s astroturf school privatization organization, the fact that California ranked so high on her list should still be an embarrassment. Consider that there are 9 other states that ranked lower than California which, according to the backward logic of Rhee, means there are 9 that have done a better job than California at resisting free market reforms. Furthermore, the only high mark California did receive was for being the birthplace of “parent trigger” laws, which are essentially a Trojan horse for corporate education profiteers and for-profit charter school operators to grab taxpayer dollars—hardly a mark of honor.

No states received an A from Rhee’s organization. The two top states were Louisiana and Florida, which each earned a B-. Louisiana has been one the quickest to give away its public schools to non-unionized private charter school operators, particularly in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In New Orleans, over 70% of students now go to charter schools. Florida bases 50% of teacher evaluations on student test scores even though those scores are highly variable from year to year and completely unreliable for all but those at the extremes.

Even though Massachusetts has among the highest levels of student achievement, the state only received a D+ because it did not do enough to crush teachers unions and give away control of its schools to education profiteers. Montana received an F for strongly supporting local control of its schools.

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