Rhee Weighs in on Obama’s Schools Plan

By Sean Cavanagh — September 13, 2011 1 min read
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Michelle Rhee offers support for President Obama’s proposed school aid package, calling the poor physical condition of some K-12 campuses “an unacceptable injustice,” while saying that she hopes federal dollars will be “allocated and spent wisely.”

“With our nation’s education system failing far too many students, it is good news to hear that additional resources are being dedicated to our schools,” Rhee says in a statement on the web site of her organization, StudentsFirst. “The best jobs plan is to reform our broken school system, and we are glad to see that recognized in the President’s approach.”

She adds that, “Crumbling and inadequate school facilities are a reality for far too many of our students, and represent an unacceptable injustice.”

Rhee is a well-known critic of practices that lead districts to protect teachers from layoffs based primarily on years of service, and her statement echoes that position: “Layoffs are never desirable, and layoffs in districts based solely on seniority—with no regard for the effectiveness of a teacher in contributing to student learning—are even worse,” she writes.

The former District of Columbia school chancellor angered many teachers and parents during her tenure when she fired hundreds of teachers in the district, decisions she based on reviews of their performance. A Democrat, Rhee has also drawn criticism for her work with Republican governors, some of whom have made major cuts to K-12 budgets and pressed policy changes that are deeply unpopular among teachers’ unions.

Her statement comes a couple months after she publicly backed another priority of Democrats in Congress: passing the DREAM Act.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.