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“F” Grade Generates Dispute

Samantha Oltman | January 7, 2013



Michelle Rhee

StudentsFirst, an education advocacy group headed by former Washington Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, released a education policies report Monday that gave 11 states, including California, failing grades. Not many other states fared much better—no states received A’s, and nearly 90 percent of states scored lower than a C grade. Rhee and former NYC superintendent Joel Klein followed up with an op-ed on CNN.com (States’ education laws aren’t making the grade).

Not all state education policy leaders are disappointed with their low grades, however. In the New York Times, California’s Chief Deputy Superintendent Richard Zeiger said the state’s F rating was a “badge of honor.” Zieger “flat-out disagree[s]” with the methods StudentsFirst endorse to improve schools—such as limiting teacher tenure, using student progress results in teacher evaluations, and expanding school choice through charters. (See: StudentsFirst Issues Low Ratings on School Policies). “This is an organization that frankly makes its living by asserting that schools are failing,” Zeiger is quoted saying in the article. “I would have been surprised if we had got anything else.”

In response, Rhee issued a statement:  “Does [Zeiger] consider it a badge of honor that California’s education policies rank 41st in the nation? Or perhaps he considers it a badge of honor that children are going into underperforming classrooms every day in California without a way to choose a better school option? Maybe he’s proud that great teachers in California aren’t paid adequately and are often laid off based on seniority, not effectiveness.”

Previously, Rhee has criticized California’s lack of a state law requiring the use of student achievement in measuring teachers, an issue that played a part in the Obama Administration’s recent rejection of a waiver request for California. Rhee has also criticized the tentative agreement between UTLA and LAUSD over teacher evaluations, which includes student achievement but leaves several key details unknown and is set for a rank-and-file vote next week.

Previous posts: Reformer Calls For Stronger State Evaluation LawVoices Urge “No” Vote On EvaluationLooming Vote On Teacher Evaluations.

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