Is Oprah Really That Dense?

Posted: 2011/03/16 in Classroom Teacher, Education, Education Reform, High School, Students
Tags: , ,

I’d like to ask Michelle Rhee one question. Does she believe the private for-profit sector would do a better job at educating America’s young people? Consider the influence of  insurance and for-profit health industries. It’s impossible to discuss what would be best for the health of Americans without these company’s profits coming into the discussion.

In case Rhee answers “No” to the first question, in case she still believes in public education, I then have a second question: What do you think those right-wing think tanks are after, Ms. Rhee? The places where the former Washington, D.C., Schools Chancellor speaks and finds so much support when she denigrates teachers and blames teacher unions for the problems in education.

Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Rhee — what a picture! America’s most famous Obama-lover giving encouragement to the anti-teacher anti-union media campaign currently sweeping the nation. A lot of the talk when Rhee was a guest on the Winfrey show got me hot under the collar. But one moment was jaw-dropping in the audacity of its nonsense.

I know Oprah is a smart woman, a brilliant woman who has built a media empire and a well-deserved reputation for generosity and philanthropy. But Oprah gave her best over-the-top I’m-so-shocked-at-this-outrage delivery in recounting that the Washington, D.C., teachers’ union rejected a Rhee proposal in which any teachers who relinquished their tenure would be paid salaries above $100,000 a year.

“And the union wouldn’t even bring that up for a vote!” Gasp!

Let’s consider this. Let’s say Teacher X has given up tenure and is being paid much more than his colleagues. Teacher X can be fired at any time without cause. How many years before some budget-cutter figures out that getting rid of Teacher X would help close the budget gap?

Did it take you more than a minute to come up with that scenario? Any teacher I’ve told about the Oprah show moment instantly comes to the same conclusion I did.

Was Oprah really that dense about the prospects of a teacher who would give up tenure for a higher salary? Or do Winfrey and Rhee think teachers should trust their districts and their superintendents? Is it supposed to be that “if you’re one of the good ones you don’t need union protection”?

Let Michelle Rhee staff her next school district with teachers who trust their fates entirely in the hands of Michelle Rhee. It better be a small district.

  1. Indigo Spider says:

    Great point! I’m glad you stopped by my blog, I’m enjoying all that I’m reading on yours.

    The idea of privatizing everything is the most absurd idea that seems to be sweeping the country. Couple that with removing unions of any kind, especially teachers unions because, after all, it is tenure that is ruining our schools, and there is the answer to all the problems! Ha!

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