Michelle Rhee's New Video Is, in a Word, Wrong
Michelle Rhee missed the mark in contributing to an informed debate about education reform with this Olympics-themed video, which features an overweight man floundering through a gymnastics routine and twirling ribbons to the jeers of an off-camera audience as a supposed metaphor for the state of our nation's education system:
The video is wrong on so many levels, so let's see if we can help Rhee figure out where her analysis got off track, shall we?
The video implies that U.S. students are falling behind in international rankings, that we've somehow slipped from being Number 1. Truth is, we never were Number 1. When we first started administering the PISA test in 1964, we were near the bottom. We now sit in the middle of the pack. And if we only counted the PISA scores of schools where less than 10 percent of students were from low-income backgrounds, we would lead the world. This means that while we have the capacity to be great, it depends on our ability to enact systemic reform to ensure that all students — not just those from middle- or high-income families — can succeed. Rhee stands firmly in the privatization camp, but charter schools and vouchers are just band-aids with a dubious track record. We need reforms that give students access to quality early education and college prep material, that equitably fund our schools, and that recruit and retain high-quality and experienced teachers in our most struggling schools.
The one thing we don't need is a misleading spoof video, let alone one so tasteless and crude in an age of epidemic childhood obesity and school bullying.