A lobby for students

˙ PREAL Blog

Former Chancellor of Washington, DC Public Schools Michelle Rhee has reemerged as a national advocate for children’s voice in education policy reform. In December she launched “Students First,” a lobbying group designed “to build a national movement to defend the interests of children in public education and pursue transformative reform.” The group plans to “demand that legislators, courts, district administrators, and school boards create and enforce policies that put students first.” Rhee and her colleagues hope to raise US 1 billion over the next year in order to fund the mobilization of parents and students’ rights groups and related public information campaigns.

Rhee’s efforts are garnering much attention in the media; supporters praise her efforts as nothing short of a revolution, while detractors suggest that Rhee’s initiative is based too heavily on unproven methods of teacher evaluation. Others have suggested the initiative is as much about Rhee as it is education (one blogger noted the irony of Students First’s website having featuring mostly pictures of Rhee on its homepage). AEI’s Frederick Hess summarizes the effort more simply: “she very explicitly is setting out to be a political answer to the unions.” Rhee herself has commented that “this will not be for the faint of heart.”

Below are a set of articles that offer a range of angles on the launch of the new organization: