I earlier reported the story on Huffington Post that said a number of top staffers had resigned, including Democrats. Hari Sevugan was a key figure in the article. He here explains his continued loyalty to Michelle Rhee’s mission.

I hope he will write again to explain why he thinks that Rhee’s support for for-profit charters, for vouchers, and for the agenda of rightwing governors helps our society’s most vulnerable children.

Diane – I’ve never posted a comment on your blog, but as one of the subjects mentioned in the article you have extrapolated from to make your point in this entry, I felt that I needed to on this occasion. I’m also writing this on my iphone, so please forgive me any wayward autocorrects.

You have often suggested, as you have here, that folks at StudentsFirst and more broadly the education reform community are working to privatize education and diminish teaching and teachers.

You afforded a story regarding my time at StudentsFirst enough validity to use it to criticize the organization. So, I hope you will afford my opinion based on that time the same credibility when I tell you this:

To suggest that folks working at StudentsFirst or in education reform are doing anything but working for the benefit of kids is plain wrong.

Everyone I worked with at StudentsFirst and in the education reform community was and is exclusively interested in improving the lives of children. They are not out to diminish teachers, but rather they recognize the importance of teachers in ensuring children have the best education possible. They are not out to destroy public education, but rather their fealty belongs to the public school students served by that system.

The thing is – I believe the same is true of teachers unions and many advocates, including you, who are opposed to education reform.

While I no longer work at StudentsFirst on a day-to-day basis, I will continue to work with them in other ways, as well as with other reformers, toward their goal of ensuring every child has access to high quality education.

In this post you ask, “What part of [Rhee’s] agenda is bipartisan?” There are many Democrats, including this one, who work toward reform because public schools are not currently serving every child – too often children of color and from poverty – as they should. These children are being denied a fundamental civil right. It is a core Democratic value to ensure that their civil rights are enforced. It is a core Democratic value to ensure poverty or socio-economic status is not a barrier to opportunity. It is a core Democratic value to ensure teachers are respected for the work they do.

There will be disagreements on how to enact those values at a policy level, on both sides and at times within the same side (see Newark teachers deal) but I hope we can abstain from characterizing motivations or values of those we disagree with. (Or in this case mischaracterizing them). I hope we can raise the level of the dialogue in this debate to reflect the importance of the subject matter both sides are trying to serve – our kids.

Hope this finds you otherwise well and doing better things on a Friday night that reading this.

- Hari