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Answer Sheet
Posted at 10:48 AM ET, 05/10/2011

How deceptive is this letter from Rhee’s organization?

Read the following fundraising letter, which was sent to, of all people, education historian Diane Ravitch by Michelle Rhee’s organization.

Ravitch recognized the name of the group sending out the letter — StudentsFirst, the education reform organization Rhee formed after she quit as D.C. schools chancellor in October.

But those not steeped in education reform might not know that the reforms referred to in this letter are in many cases geared toward privatizing public schools by:

*expanding charter schools that are often run by for-profit companies

*increasing the use of standardized tests that are sold to schools by private firms

*supporting the use of public money for use as private school tuition.

Ravitch is ardently opposed to Rhee’s view of reform.

Even teachers might be fooled into thinking the organization is all about helping them, when it is actually intended to bring down teachers unions which are often blamed for failing schools by protecting adults. That argument, of course, ignores the fact that the problems are the same in states where teachers are unionized and in states where they aren’t.

Rhee, by the way, appeared Monday at the national school choice summit of the the American Federation for Children, whose board chair is Betsy DeVos.

She is wife of Dick DeVos, who is the son of the co-founder of Amway, and the sister of Erik Prince, founder of the private military contractor once known as Blackwater USA and now called Xe Services LLC.

The DeVos family has spent millions to support efforts to promote vouchers and promote reforms that are furthering the privatization of public education.

Rhee has become the darling of the privatization-minded set. More on that later, but now read the form letter sent to Ravitch and presumably many others by someone named Heather Bonds, a mother of five and StudentsFirst member in Indianapolis:

Diane,

As a mother of five, living in Indianapolis, I don’t have a lot of spare time. But when it comes to the education of my children -- and all students -- I make the time.

There is nothing more rewarding than giving children the tools they need to succeed. That’s why I serve as the president of my local middle school’s PTA and why I have been actively supporting StudentsFirst in Indiana.

Teachers have an enormous impact on a child’s success in school. And so we are very excited about the new education reform law signed this weekend in Indiana, which focuses on teacher quality.

Similar reform has passed in Florida and is moving forward in Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, and Ohio. We must keep fighting to put the needs of students first in every classroom in America.

Help us work in every community to put the needs of kids first by making a donation to StudentsFirst now.

It is Teacher Appreciation Week across America. I hope you will join me in taking some time to give your thanks to the great teachers you know. There is nothing more instrumental for our kids’ success than great teachers.

That’s why we must all take action in the StudentsFirst Save Great Teachers Campaign.

I believe that by rewarding the best teachers, we will inspire all teachers to greater success and keep the most qualified teachers in the classroom. This is how we put students first in Indiana and all across America.

A donation to StudentsFirst will help us do even more to save great teachers. Give generously now:

http://studentsfirst.org/help-us-do-more

Sincerely,

Heather Bonds

StudentsFirst member in Indianapolis

Mother of five

P.S. Are you a teacher? Sign up to receive StudentsFirst emails specifically for teachers: http://studentsfirst.org/teacher-emails

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By  |  10:48 AM ET, 05/10/2011

 
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