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  • ID McCollum
  • Noelle K.  Pritchard
  • James Lovette-Black

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  • Ajay Jain

    The Voting Rights Act (VRA) must be upheld by the supreme court:

    The numerous despicable attempts to restrict voting made during the last election cycle are proof of that. Anyone who truly believes the VRA is obsolete needs to recognize, given last year's voter suppression efforts, the Jim Crowe era is biding its time.

    Now even if you are dumb enough to believe that all is OK with the world and there are no reasons to have the voting rights act on the books. Then why are the the parties at opposite end's on this? Why are the Republicans in America trying to keep people from the poles ?

    The argument is that VRA is discriminatory against Southern states to require them but not other states to seek pre-clearance for voting laws; I actually agree. The Voting Rights Act should require *ALL* states to seek pre-clearance. After what we've seen the GOP try to pass in states all across the nation prior to the last 2012 election, I see no reason this safeguard against voter suppression should be limited to just Southern states as suggested by VRA of 1965 but now should be expanded to apply to ALL 50 states.

    Ajay Jain
    ajain31@gmail.com
    1209 Creekwood Drive
    Garland TX 75044-2421

  • Ajay Jain

    The Voting Rights Act (VRA) must be upheld by the supreme court:

    The numerous despicable attempts to restrict voting made during the last election cycle are proof of that. Anyone who truly believes the VRA is obsolete needs to recognize, given last year's voter suppression efforts, the Jim Crowe era is biding its time.

    Now even if you are dumb enough to believe that all is OK with the world and there are no reasons to have the voting rights act on the books. Then why are the the parties at opposite end's on this? Why are the Republicans in America trying to keep people from the poles ?

    The argument is that VRA is discriminatory against Southern states to require them but not other states to seek pre-clearance for voting laws; I actually agree. The Voting Rights Act should require *ALL* states to seek pre-clearance. After what we've seen the GOP try to pass in states all across the nation prior to the last 2012 election, I see no reason this safeguard against voter suppression should be limited to just Southern states as suggested by VRA of 1965 but now should be expanded to apply to ALL 50 states.

    Ajay Jain
    ajain31@gmail.com
    1209 Creekwood Drive
    Garland TX 75044-2421

  • Ajay Jain

    Michelle Rhee - The famous former Washington DC School District Chancellor

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=215125001967375&set=vb.145530532162873&type=2&theater

    Michelle Rhee on OPRAH https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPsqO17f6Lw

    Michelle Rhee on abc's ThisWeek https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nep1mcaFthU

    Michelle Rhee on The DailyShow with Jon Stewart
    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-february-4-2013/michelle-rhee
    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-february-4-2013/exclusive---michelle-rhee-extended-interview-pt--2
    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-february-4-2013/exclusive---michelle-rhee-extended-interview-pt--3

    pbs.org FRONTLINE: The Education of Michelle Rhee
    http://video.pbs.org/video/2323979463/ http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/education-of-michelle-rhee/

    Why Teach For America works - Michelle Rhee
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUs_hsHaqSA

    A Two-Tier Proposal for Teacher Pay - Michelle Rhee
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pii96AoTPw

    Time Magazine: Rhee Tackles Classroom Challenge
    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1862444-2,00.html

    Michelle Rhee Discusses "Waiting for Superman," Charter Schools And Sch... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLih24QdwH8

    Stanford University: A Conversation on "Waiting for Superman" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xzrjo7Fvs1A

    "Radical" Fighting to Put Students First should be a must read for all studentsfirst.org members! Michelle Rhee's new book, "RADICAL: Fighting to Put Students First," is now in stores! For more information about where you can find it, to read an excerpt from the book, and to share your story about education in America visit the official site at http://www.edradical.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/edradical.
    http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/michelle-rhee/510ff3b02b8c2a138f000747

    Michelle Rhee at the ACE 2011 Spring Luncheon https://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=mO9F-amHDuw

    Michelle Rhee and Kevin Johnson (4/20/11) https://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=OCcNzh7C_Tk&feature=endscreen

    Michelle A. Rhee 03.17.11 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KD0g8Jb9l78

    Cornell Alumni: Olin Lecture 2012: Michelle Rhee '92https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwFD-wkAEi8

    Harvard Public Health: Michelle Rhee, Former Chancellor of Washington D.C. Public Schoolshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jH0twXcxNUY

    http://fora.tv/2013/02/07/Michelle_Rhee_Fighting_to_Put_Students_First

    Geoffrey Canada - Conversations at KCTS 9
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxP6Ov5PSG8
    Geoffrey Canada interviewed by Julian Bond: Explorations in Black Leadership ...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2f5MZKf6Uu4

    "Waiting for Superman" the documentary and Bloomberg documentary "Risk Takers" Michelle Rhee should a required screening for all studentsfirst.org members. I saw them on Netflix and became an instant member of studentsfirst.org and Michelle Rhee follower.

    "Won't Back down" the movie is another example to screen to all studentsfirst.org members.

    Share the reasons you fight for education reform. Your story will inspire others to get involved. So tell us: Why are you working to put students first? http://www.studentsfirst.org/facebook-story

    Check out today's blog by StudentsFirst staffer Charity Hallman, "One size fits all, or so they said," on The Fordham Institute's "Education Gadfly Daily: FLYPAPER" blog.

    To view the Fordham study, "When Teachers Choose Pension Plans: The Florida Story," visit http://www.studentsfirst.org/fordham-study-on-fl-teacher-pension-reform

    Watch MAKER videos on StudentFirst Founder Michelle Rhee visit www.makers.com/michelle-rhee

  • vialegirl

    Like many others here, I have mixed feelings about Rhee. I too signed on early to her cause, hoping to take action. While I appreciate her call to action and her ablity to get news coverage--awareness is critical--I have yet to see any real action. Has anything changed? Has she proposed any substantive changes? Not that I am aware of. But maybe her role is just to call us to the issue. We need tree-huggers and human rights activists and others to call our attention away from our siren-like smart phones and look at what is really happening in our communities. So there ya go.

  • debocracy

    I signed up for Rhee's organization "Students First." After receiving several emails just asking for money, she finally sent out a call about a serious human rights matter. It boiled down to an attack on tenure. After writing a letter to the organization describing my displeasure, I opted out. I think the org should be called "Rhee First." Typical of the right, they will take anyone who isn't "white" but will espouse their lies and distortions and throw money at them, hoping we will be tricked. Ward Connerly was a pioneer in this area. He's not only a liar, he's a thief as well. Watch what they say, not what they look like!

  • noisyblocks

    "Change education" is indeed a noble cause, and one that I don't question, but it can too easily become its own problem. Personalities aside (I don't know anything about Ms Rhee is) this FL piece reminds me of this article:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/10/its-not-just-writing-math-needs-a-revolution-too/263545/#

    And, more to the point, the demonstration by a young girl of so-called "new math":
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YLlX61o8fg

    What, precisely, is being accomplished with this? Better "success rates" on paper or kids actually learning how to do math in the real world?

  • Jose Vilson

    ProfessorK, thank you for your comments as well. I'm confused about your comment, specifically, how does her volume and brashness equate to courage? Also, is she the only one? If so, then why do we on the ground level work so hard for our students? To answer a question with another question, have any of the changes Michelle Rhee implemented for Washington DC or through StudentsFirst helped our students become more successful? Little evidence, if any.

  • ProfessorK

    You will always have people who find something negative in something, no matter what. The fact is M. Rhee was the only one who had enough courage to change education. Nobody prior to her taking the role as chancellor had the "balls" to do anything. Her ideas might not be perfect, but it got things moving. Yes, she could have done something about the test score cheating incident. People tend to concentrate on more negative things than positive. In the end, we have to raise a question, has any of these changes helped our students become more successful?

  • Jose Vilson

    I meant Max. Autocorrect working wonders. Apologies.

  • Jose Vilson

    Mike and Gladys, Thank you for your comments.

    I'm not exactly sure what she's actually done "on behalf of students," even after reading articles from some of her biggest promoters on the web. While I took a satirical turn here in this article, I've also gotten a chance to know her work well. I have yet to hear much about actual improvement in Washington, D.C. schools, or that her StudentsFirst group has actually made a policy change that affected any number of school districts positively. Contrast that with proffering the test-driven mechanisms we've already seen at work, and this is a serious ruse on behalf of the few.

    What's more unnerving is that, even those of us who want to take a fair approach to this discourse (and I am one), I'm also well informed to see past the style and get to the substance. (c) Sherman Dorn http://shermandorn.com/wordpress/?p=2510

  • GladysG

    This is really provocative. I haven't made up my mind about Rhee. I asked a LAUSD teacher to tell me how she thought I ought to feel and she had no idea who Rhee was! Maybe that explains in part how education can be "infiltrated" by controversial figures who might undermine educators--educators aren't paying enough attention.

  • Max Schorr

    We're all entitled to our opinions. For what it is worth, I really respect Michelle Rhee. Nobody is perfect perhaps, but I admire her courage, passion, and action on behalf of students. Through her effort, and all the wonderful people working in the education space, may every child have access to quality education.

    • Nikhil Goyal

      I hope you realize that Michelle Rhee was involved in a massive cheating scandal while she was chancellor of D.C. public schools. For further information, see this New York Times piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/22/education/22winerip.html?pagewanted=all

      From a high school student perspective, Michelle Rhee's organization StudentsFirst is a fraud. Start with the name. She doesn't even involve students in her organization. And then there's the fact that she calls her "bipartisan" even though StudentsFirst, out of 105 candidates, endorsed 90 Republicans.

      • Max Schorr

        I'm aware of these allegations and reasons to be critical of Rhee - it's an ongoing debate I have with some friends, but to me, this is not about perfect, it is about progress. I believe that as Rhee and StudentsFirst are successful in removing LIFO (Last In First Out - the backwards law that in the case of education budget cuts, forces most states to fire the newest hires regardless of performance), it is a great, practical win for students.

        And how is StudentsFirst not "bipartisan"? They endorsed 15 Democratic candidates and 90 Republicans - that reflects both parties. Not only is Michelle's husband a Democrat Mayor, but the organization connects with significant portions of both parties - the main reason she does not have more democratic support or did not endorse more democratic candidates is because of the Teachers Union's opposition to her. I am very pro teacher, and I respect the opinion of the author of this post. However, my admiration for Michelle Rhee is immense. She is rolling up her sleeves. I've looked her in the eyes, and I believe in her intent to help. I wish her ongoing learning on her journey and positive impact on behalf of students.

        • ForStudentPower

          How is making teacher's lives more precarious a good thing for students? Things like merit pay and high-stakes testing are driving good pedagogy out of the classroom at breakneck speeds. Kindergarten classes across the country are now spending huge amounts of time on testing and test prep — in Chicago, up to a third of the year!

          Rhee may have good intentions, but her ideology (and that of her very wealthy funders) is blinding her to what's actually going on in the classroom. Rolling up one's sleeves shouldn't factor into whether a person is correct. I mean, Sheriff Arpaio in Arizona is surely just as determined as Rhee is. Does that make me respect him more or agree with him?

          Take a look at actual reality-based research into education policies, and you'll find StudentsFirst is on the wrong side on virtually all of them. For example, the Opportunity to Learn Campaign just posted a good dissection of their latest report issued this week: http://www.otlcampaign.org/blog/2013/01/09/5-ways-michelle-rhee%E2%80%99s-report-puts-students-last

          They're against small teacher-to-student ratios, for crying out loud. :(

        • Nikhil Goyal

          How can you just blatantly ignore a cheating scandal? Rhee has refused to even address the issue, saying it wasn't her mistake. In one class, according to USA Today, "the odds are better for winning the Powerball grand prize than having that many erasures by chance."

          Are you kidding? It's basic math. She's overwhelmingly supporting Republicans over Democrats. You wonder why so many Democratic staffers have left the organization.

          Rhee has ignored students. I believe there wasn't a single student involved in making the priorities for the report card she released yesterday. How is that putting "StudentsFirst?"

          I highly suggest you look at the facts. This isn't about the unions. We cannot just watch the dismantling of public education before our eyes.

          • Max Schorr

            I will spend some more time with the facts, and appreciate your passionate perspective.

            The cheating scandal is less important to me than the arc of her career, which I see as overwhelmingly though not entirely positive. I admire the sense of urgency she brings to this issue. In my mind, it is like she is the mother of all children, that is the level of urgency she places on improving the educational opportunities for all students. It is as if the kids who go to broken schools are her own kids, that is how she feels. That is the compassion I felt when I first heard her give a speech and again upon meeting her.

            Still, these are complex, challenging issues. And while I value someone as smart and passionate as Michelle committing her life to trying to improve the system, what encourages me even more is when more and more smart, motivated people get involved in rolling up sleeves and improving our education system.

            Because of this article and conversation, I'm going to spend some time digging into the education debate and the facts, and I'm glad more and more conversations are happening about what works for students to get quality education. In my mind, that is what matters, that students everywhere have access to quality education. I'm all for everyone having rigorous discussions, pursuits, actions steered by the intention of making education more effective.

            • Jose Vilson

              Max, Nihkil, and everyone else, thanks again.

              After carefully reading through your comments, I again am lost about the facts. For instance, if you mentioned that Michelle Rhee helped start the New Teacher Project, an org that birthed NYC Teaching Fellows and other such programs, I would have agreed there (full disclosure: that's how I got into teaching.) Otherwise, some of her other initiatives haven't done very well at all. For one, how is the sponsorship of 15 Democrats over 90 Republicans really bi-partisan? Centrist? Maybe. Yet, her claim to fame has also been about challenging her own party (and using Democrats for Education Reform as a vehicle for that challenge). Also, if you've read anything recently, you'll notice that many of the "major" Democratic supporters she had on board have fallen off the bandwagon due to her fumbling on issues like gun control.

              These are facts.

              Also, she mentioned to a class of brand-new teachers that during her brief tenure, she taped students' mouths to get them quiet. I have a hard time with this idea of "motherhood" in lieu of that.

              What's GOOD about this conversation is that, as it stands, we can have a substantive conversation about the merits of the status-quo of the education discourse, whether it be teacher evaluation or the proliferation of standardized testing. We have to be able to look past someone's style (and Rhee's style is a whole 'nother discussion) and get to the substance of her works.

              • tcw2108

                I'm not at all of fan of the Rhee brand - she seems part of a larger camp of folk that are exploiting real crises in education and "fixing" them with fake science, fake research, and fake outcomes. More problematic, is that instead of focusing on real causes and solutions to the crisis, we allow people to come into an already vulnerable community and use the crisis they're in as a legitimate pretense for implementing dehumanizing and disrespectful practices (on top of the already dehumanizing conditions of poverty in which many of our students live and that we ALL turn a blind eye to). Yes, Rhee channels the urgency of our modern educational crisis, but urgency is not quality - it's necessary to push us there, but not a sufficient means for defining qualitiy - in teaching or in learning.