Jeff Bryant wonders whether Campbell Brown will replace Michelle Rhee as the public face of “reform”? Bryant describes the movement as “Blame Teachers First.”
Bryant suspects that Rhee’s star is fading fast. Bryant describes her as “education’s Ann Coulter.” The lingering doubts about the Washington, D.C. cheating scandal never dissipate, and John Merrow’s latest blog about the millions that Rhee has paid to protect her image have not been enough to stop the slide. He notes that she never collected the $1 billion she predicted and that her organization is retreating from several states. Her biography bombed. She was unable to draw a crowd in many of the states where she claimed to have thousands of supporters. Bryant says she is yesterday’s news.
Campbell Brown is thus next in line to inherit the role as leader of the “Blame Teachers First” movement.
“With Rhee and StudentsFirst sinking under the weight of over-promises, under-performance, and unproven practices, the Blame Teachers First crowd is now eagerly promoting Campbell Brown.
“According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Brown launched the group Partnership for Educational Justice, with a Veraga-inspired lawsuit in New York State to once again dilute teachers’ job protections, commonly called “tenure.” The suit clams students suffer from laws “making it too expensive, time-consuming and burdensome to fire bad teachers.”
“An article in The Washington Post noted, “Brown has raised the issue of tenure in op-eds and on TV programs such as ‘Morning Joe.’ But she may be just getting warmed up.”
“Actually, Brown has already been warmed up and is plenty ready to take the mound and pitch. As the very same article noted, Brown started her campaign against teachers some time ago, claiming that the New York City teachers’ union was obstructing efforts to fire teachers for sexual misconduct. Unfortunately for Brown, the ad campaign conducted by her organization Parents Transparency Project failed to note that, as The Post article recalled, at least 33 teachers had indeed been fired. “The balance were either fined, suspended or transferred for minor, non-criminal complaints.” Oops.
“Further, as my colleague Dave Johnson recalled at the time, Brown penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal accusing the teachers’ union of “trying to block a bill to keep sexual predators out of schools.” It turned out, the union wanted to strengthen the bill, not stop it. Double oops.
“Nevertheless – or as The Post reporter put it, “undaunted” – Brown has now decided to take on teacher personnel policies on behalf of, she claims, “millions of schoolchildren being denied a decent education.”
Who is funding the new anti-teacher drive? Bryant describes the familiar organizations that promoted Rhee, such as TNTP, which Rhee founded, as well as Republican operatives.
“What emerges from these interwoven relationships, then, is a big-money effort led by a small number of people who are intent on the singular goal of reducing the ability of teachers to have control of their work environments. But to what end?
“Regardless of how you feel about the machinations behind the Rhee-Brown campaign, what’s clear is that it is hell-bent on imposing new policies that have little to no prospect of addressing the problem they are purported to resolve, which is to ensure students who need the best teachers are more apt to get them.
“Research generally has found that experienced teachers – the targets for these new lawsuits – make a positive difference in students’ academic trajectory. A review of that research on the website for the grassroots group Parents Across America concluded, “Every single study shows teaching experience matters. In fact, the only two observable factors that have been found consistently to lead to higher student achievement are class size and teacher experience.”
The new campaign looks very much like the old campaign, with only this difference. Brown does not pretend to be a Democrat.