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Best Wishes to Michelle Rhee & Indiana Leaders, Even If Selfish of Me to Say So

My mom and dad work with me a lot to help me be less selfish. The phrase “Me first” is kind of frowned upon in our household. Ok, I get that. But what about “We first”? If I’m thinking about all us kids out there who are students, that’s not being too self-centered… right?

It was about two months ago you all had to help me fight back the tears after the news that Michelle Rhee was forced out of her job as D.C. schools chancellor. But it’s always darkest before the dawn, they say. For last week the news came out that my edu-crush is now leading a national education reform advocacy group known as… you guessed it: Students First. Isn’t this great news?

Well, if you don’t want to drown in my enthusiasm, you ought to read the thoughtful, well-informed perspective of the Center for Education Reform’s Jeanne Allen, who offers some valid cautions to Rhee with her “Welcome Aboard” message.

Another example of unselfishly being first comes from Indiana, where state leaders are promoting a bold education reform agenda under the heading of “Putting Students First.” Do you sense a theme developing? As explained in this Howey Politics Indiana article, Governor Mitch Daniels is backing the following significant changes in the Hoosier state:

  • “Identify and reward great teachers and principals,” including strong support for performance-based pay, and significant reforms to teacher evaluation and tenure (hey, Colorado set the standard here with SB 191)
  • Upgrade state-level accountability, including a school grading system (Florida, anyone?), while empowering school leaders with greater autonomy to meet the standards
  • More high-quality education options for parents, including more charter school authorizers, virtual charter schools and an early high school graduation opportunity (maybe I should go to school in Indiana, or maybe Colorado should just follow suit!)

To emphasize the last point, Indiana state superintendent Dr. Tony Bennett (no, not that Tony Bennett) said it well at the December 8 event unveiling the agenda, that one of their leading goals is to:

ensure that state education dollars follow the needs of students so that parents can select the best possible education options for their children.

Watch for yourself, at the 27:30 mark of this half-hour video (or if you have the time, watch the whole thing):

Encouraging and inspiring news from the land of Hoosiers. Here’s hoping that success follows both Michelle Rhee’s national education reform efforts and the pursuits of Daniels and Bennett in Indiana — even if it comes across as selfish for me to say so.