Michelle Rhee: School Choice and Common Core Cheerleader

Who would have thought the champion of charters and school choice, the foe of teachers unions, was connected to Common Core before most people had even heard the term?  Michelle Rhee is that woman and she has poured millions into getting Republican candidates elected in at least 17 states [in 2012, 90 out of the 105 candidates backed by Rhee were Republicans or conservatives] Texas may be next on the list -- see USA Today op-ed co-authored by Rhee and Susan Combs, Texas State Comptroller.

The StudentsFirst CEO not only supports Common Core, two of its lead writers were on Rhee's board of her billion dollar organization. On IRS 501c (3) and 501c (4) applications for StudentsFirst Institute and StudentsFirst respectively, David Coleman, regarded as the architect of Common Core, is listed as Treasurer and Jason Zimba as Director. Zimba, a Math professor from Bennington College, authored the wacky and Kafkaesque CCSS Math standards.

Coleman founded Student Achievement Partners (SAP) along with Zimba and Sue Pimentel in 2007. Today, SAP's mission, noted on its website, is to disseminate Core content as "as widely as possible."

Rhee's camaraderie with the instigators of Common Core years before the current backlash suggests that her role in the fundamental transformation of our educational system goes beyond charters and school choice.

Common Core an Obama administration plan

In trying to find the answer to the question concerning Rhee's involvement with Common Core as well as how she managed to win over Republicans and conservative groups while partnering with enemies of the Republic like Coleman and Zimba, we stumbled across a 2009 video.

The heroine of the "school choice" movement publicly revealed her ties in the video to Obama, Duncan and surprisingly, Warren Buffett.

In a December, 2009 talk sponsored by The Economist, Rhee not only introduces the "incredibly important set of  'Core Common National Standards'", and a "national test" Obama and Duncan were moving towards, she also expounds on Buffett's suggestion that we fix public education by  making all private schools "illegal." Rhee asks her audience what they "think about that?"

Rhee:  That would mean every ambassador's child, every CEO's child, every Congressman's child and the President's children would all get assigned to a DC public school by a lottery which would mean a huge percentage of them would be going across the river to Anacostia every day...you would never see a faster movement of resources from one side of the city to another in that circumstance.

After she presents her redistribution of rich kids solution, Rhee says that "adults" have not been willing to see to it that every child gets a quality education. And because she cannot "close down private schools" nor "does she want to," Common Core is the next best thing.

Rhee hires a union activist

The CEO has managed to play both sides so artfully, as a "lefty-leftist radical Democrat" and as a crusader for the so-called "school choice" movement that she continues to escape ideological scrutiny by earnest and true conservatives.

Last March Rhee hired Fabian Nunez a protégé of Marxist California labor union activists Miguel Contreros and his wife Maria Durazo, as an adviser for her Sacramento-based StudenstFirst.  In the 1990's Nunez was political director of a labor federation under the support of Conteros.  Contreros once stated, "Amnesty is a means to an end -- the elimination of poverty and a better redistribution of wealth."

In 1995, Nunez was a labor activist stirring up the masses at rallies with Marxist speeches, "We don't have economic power because we don't own the means of production," he said. Nunez went on to lobby for the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2000 and eventually served for six years in the California State Assembly.  

Shortly after he began working at StudentsFirst Nunez said, "high profile Democrats including President Obama and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are pushing the Party to adopt much of Rhee's agenda," according to the LA Times.

Why would Obama/Duncan/Villaraigosa be interested in promoting Rhee, charter schools and public-private partnerships as a remedy to failing public schools? Is Obama's and Rhee's involvement in the school choice movement a backdoor trap to regulate all private and religious institutions as well as home schooling?

The New Teacher Project

Before Rhee headed up Washington, DC schools she formed and led a non-profit from 1997-2007. The New Teacher Project (TNTP), and now the Common Core Standards are threatening to turn our children and teachers into global change agents.  As President and CEO of The New Teacher Project Rhee partnered with school districts, state education agencies, non-profit organizations and unions to change the way schools recruit, select and train teachers for the hard-to-staff schools. TNTP states its goal is to end "educational inequality."

The New Teacher Project (TNTP) and the Common Core Standards are connected.

In November, 2013 TNTP issued a report in collaboration with David Coleman's Student Achievement Partners (SAP). Yes, the same Coleman that not only designed Common Core, but showed up as the Treasurer for StudenstFirst until 2012.

The report entitled, "Fixing Classroom Observations: How Common Core Will Change the Way We Look at Teaching" explicitly states that the implementation of teacher evaluation systems, the ones spawned by Rhee's New Teacher Project beginning in 1997 and which are now being pushed in school districts across the nation, are "inextricably linked" to the Common Core State Standards.

From the report:

...many school systems view teacher evaluation and Common Core as separate or even competing initiatives, instead, they should be viewed as complementary efforts, which, if well-coordinated, present a powerful opportunity to raise student achievement.

The report gets more frightening as it gets into the nuts and bolts of teacher evaluations based on classroom observations. The observation tools used in the past to rate teachers have not been updated "to reflect the Common Core -- especially the importance the standards place on teaching the right content." (emphasis ours)

TNTP is developing a rubric that will direct the "observer" to Common Core language and math standards in order to "ground conversations about lesson content in the language of the relevant standards."

Michelle Rhee and her Common Core cohorts have launched a multi-pronged attack against our children. Their offensive has been nearly 20 years in the planning.

M. Catharine Evans is a regular contributor to American Thinker and Ann Kane is editor of Watchdog Wire North Carolina, email northcarolina@watchdogwire.com

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