Posts Tagged ‘Michelle Rhee’

PAA leader helps kill parent trigger in Florida

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

RitaThe indomitable Rita Solnet, who helped beat back the parent trigger bill last year in Florida, has done it again, with the help of other parent groups and some major goofs by Parent Revolution.

The astroturfers got caught setting up front groups, forging signatures on pro-trigger petitions, and lying about a video used to show Florida legislators that there were, yes, there were some parents who supported the proposal.

This is a huge win against Jeb Bush, Michelle Rhee, and the rest of the corporate reformers. It will resound across the country. Huge kudos to Rita who led the fight all the way.

A “CPS Mommy” and the bias of the liberal media

Monday, June 11th, 2012

It really hit home today as I read the ugly Huffington Post blog by Jacqueline Edelberg, in which the self-described “CPS Mommy” who “love, love, l-o-v-e”s teachers describes Chicago’s as “the red-shirted mob now marching with pitchforks against the House of Brizard.”

After considerable protest from commenters on the post, HuffPo actually deleted the words “midgets” and “freak show” from Edelberg’s description of the controversy over the teachers union strike authorization vote as offensive (ya think?). Here’s Edelberg’s original wording:

“In the Springeresque circus that’s come to town, we’ve seen Lewis flanked by rabid parent Matt Farmer and perennial parade-marshal Rev. Jesse Jackson (extra ironic since disadvantaged minority children will be the ones most impacted by a strike). And whoa! Hollywood? Even Matt Damon has piled-on. By the time the bouncers, midgets, and 405,000 bored kids rush the stage, Wisconsin’s pizza and beer slug-fest will look tame. This is exactly the kind of polarizing freak show that SB7 sought to avoid.”

But HuffPo editors APPROVED IT as it was originally written. Midgets, freak show and all.

Why does this bother me? Besides the obvious? Because I am still waiting for HuffPo editors to approve my recent post sharing Parents Across America’s parent report card on Michelle Rhee, which I posted last Wednesday to my HuffPo Backstage submission page.

It usually takes about 24 hours for a post to go live. It’s been 5 days. And I’ve been here before – I know they won’t post it. It’s why I have more or less stopped posting there anyway.

But it shows that HuffPo is more interested in protecting corporate darlings like Michelle Rhee than in using taste or judgment about offensive references to little people or attacks on other CPS parents like Matt Farmer who emotionally, devastatingly, and FACTUALLY argued at a CTU rally that Penny Pritzker does not expose her children to the same policies and programs she approves for CPS children as a member of the Chicago Board.

When it comes to education reform, there is no liberal or conservative anyway, there’s only “pro-corporate,” “pro-public,” and, I guess, “home school.” So, next time you see Arianna representing the “liberal” point of view on a talk show, remember where her biases really lie.

Rrrowr! Parent trigger front group “outraged” by PURE/PAA position

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Choppers and charters

Even though the story was not even carried in the Tribune print edition, the World’s Greatest Newspaper ran a letter today tearing into a recent Trib blog post about the PURE/Parents Across America position against the parent trigger.

Here’s how they put it: “As parents, we are outraged by statements in a story you ran about PURE’s fight against parent engagement in schools.”

Right. That’s PURE – always fighting against parent engagement.

They go on:

We want to set the record straight. Charter schools are public schools open to any student who lives in Chicago. No tuition. No entrance exams. No excuses. Public charter schools are part of CPS and serve neighborhood kids just like regular CPS schools.

Well, except that some charter schools DO have entrance exams – KIPP is a notable example – and many charge significant fees which families must pay or the student is removed from the school. Oh, and then there’s the fact that charters counsel and push students out – that’s not being “open to any student” and is certainly not the way regular CPS schools serve neighborhood kids.

We need each and every option that delivers results, rather than adults promoting an “us vs. them” mentality.

Right, they oppose the “us vs. them” mentality – that’s why they wrote this letter stating their “outrage” over a parent group expressing an opinion that differs from theirs on this controversial experimental strategy.

It’s time for the grown-ups to start acting like adults. It is time that parents have the power to fix our failing system through the means they like best.

Sure. The best way to show that you’re grown up is to demand that things happen the way that you “like best,” without respect for facts, research, or track record.

Astroturfers unmasked

So, who are these outraged grown-ups? It’s always a hoot to dig a little into the folks who make up these small bands of ragtag “advocates” to see who Bill Gates is using to spread his message. My favorite used to be Rev. Patricia Watkins, who started out wearing a lot of hats for such groups as SAGE and Advance Illinois. Of course, she went on to run for mayor and to famously defend herself against Carol Moseley Braun’s “strung out on crack” crack.

Like Watkins and her multiple hats, most of the signatories of today’s Tribune letter pop up whenever charter schools need to put a parent face on.

Some are members of (though they don’t mention that) – an outgrowth of the expensive, orchestrated media push around the movie “Waiting for Superman.”

The group was recently highlighted on the web site for Michelle Rhee’s new billion dollar public school bashing venture, Students First. Don’t miss the video of noted non-parent Father Michael Pfleger speaking passionately about the need for school choice – including parochial schools like his St. Sabina Academy – and several of the parents noting that they send their children to private, not public schools.

Some “donewaiters” — most of whom are employees of charter schools or charter promoting agencies — also wrote a letter to the Sun-Times last December pushing for more charter schools. is affiliated with Education Reform Now, whose president is former NYC Schools Chief Joel Klein, a huge privatizer.

A little more digging found these interesting tidbits:

  • Trib Letter signer Denise P. Brown was recently a candidate for alderman in the 16th Ward (she lost).
  • Signer Pastor John Zayas is closely associated with recent mayoral candidate Pastor Wilfredo de Jesus. Both men’s churches are listed as favorites of the motorcycle and car hobbyists club, Christ for Life, which describes itself as (and I am not making this up) an interdenominational ministry that does not discriminate based on denominational affiliation, race, disability, skill level, experience, or make or model of vehicle(s).

Gotta love the charter movement.

Elite schools and small class size

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Sidwell Friends School has a history of small class sizes

Don’t miss this debate on CNN between a class size researcher and the co-founder of Parents Across America and head of NYC’s Class Size Matters, Leonie Haimson. She’s so good she quickly gets him arguing on her side and has time left to go after the hypocrisy of Bill Gates and Mayor Bloomberg in sending their children to private schools with class sizes of 15 or less, while forcing low-income urban schools into a position of having to raise class sizes every year.

The Obamas don’t escape this charge, either. Class sizes at the Sidwell Friends School, which Malia and Sasha attend, range from one teacher for every ten students in the lower grades to one teacher for every 16 students in some fourth grade classes.

In a thoughtful essay, “Mr. President, we want your children’s education, too,” D. C. public schools graduate Rachel Levy expresses her disappointment with comments President Obama made recently on the choice he and the First Lady made about where to send their daughters to school.

In response to a Today Show question about whether he would send his daughters to a D.C. public school, he said that the D. C. schools were still struggling, that they had made great strides (presumably under scary education broom-wielder Michelle Rhee) and that parents with less clout than the Obamas should still have similar choices. In other words, Levy says, “the president subtly plugged his own administration’s plans for education reform while using the coded language of the urban neoliberal elite.”

If the new school reformers’ policies, which you and your administration support, are the right ones, why don’t you send your own children to the very schools where such policies are being implemented? If that is not possible, why send them to a school that is in many ways the mirror opposite of your revolutionary reforms?…Mr. President, if we should all have your healthcare, as you have said we should, then shouldn’t we all have your children’s quality education, too?

Good questions, ones that the president ought to answer.

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.