Jeff Bryant asks whether Michelle Rhee is the Ann Coulter of education.
Rhee expends great energy insisting that Democrats support the hard-right agenda of ALEC. She tries to sell the idea of a bipartisan consensus to eliminate collective bargaining rights, teacher tenure, test-based evaluation, and privatization via charters and vouchers.
Democrats would be wise to stick to their historic agenda of equality of educational opportunity and public education.
Rhee has no popular base for her agenda. Although she claims two million members, most of those “members” seem to be people (like me) who innocently signed an online petition supporting teachers. When she held a rally in Hartford, Connecticut, last fall, no one showed but media and a handful of onlookers.
What she does have is a load of money, contributed by Rupert Murdoch, the Waltons, and assorted rightwing billionaires. She uses it to support Republican candidates and the few Democrats who endorse vouchers or promise to oppose unions.
Her relentless promotion of the anti-union film “Won’t Back Down” demonstrated her lack of any popular backing. The film had the worst opening weekend in thirty years of any movie in wide distribution (2500 screens), and immediately died at the box office, despite heavy marketing and advertising. The Regal cinema chain (owned by Philip Anschutz, whose company Walden Media produced the film) is now offering two tickets for the price of one. But in these hard economic times, it’s tough to sell a story in which the union members are the bad guys and the entrepreneurs are the good ones.