July 17, 2014

 

StudentsFirst, the corporate-backed education “reform” group founded by former DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee, has pulled out of Indiana –and Florida, Maine, Minnesota and Iowa.

 

The organization has pushed strongly for charter expansion, basing teacher evaluations on standardized test scores and ending seniority-based staffing decisions. The group failed to pass “parent-trigger” legislation in 2013 that would have allowed a minority number of parents to take over public schools.

 

The so-calledreform group” has been mired in controversy and received heat in the first few years of operation over its corporate donor list and true agenda, including billionaire and former Enron trader John Arnold.

 

Additionally, Rhee was associated with a cheating scandal during her tenure in the District of Columbia where a highly abnormal number of erasure marks on tests resulted in many students receiving correct answers – a scenario that is statistically nearly impossible.

 

A memo about the scandal uncovered that nearly 200 teachers may have cheated as a result of Rhee’s implementation of a high-stakes evaluation system that linked student test scores to compensation and employment status. The confidential memo suggests that Rhee was aware of the situation and did nothing to intervene.

 

StudentsFirst’s sudden departure from Indiana begs the question as to the group’s organizational motives—that StudentsFirst has been less committed to putting Hoosier “students first” than in promoting its own corporate reform agenda.

 

This is yet another example (how many of these examples must we force Hoosiers to endure?) of how out-of-state special interests swoop in to take advantage. 

 

The real work of supporting high quality public education for Indiana’s 1 million community-based public school students remains with Hoosiers.  

 

Read more: Students First should work towards what their name implies rather than making political attacks