Schoolmaggedon ’13: When Michelle Rhee Came to Town

In many pockets of Philadelphia’s public ed community, Michelle Rhee is the devil incarnate. The face of the ed reform movement, she’s often accused of demonizing teachers and has been dogged by a lingering D.C. school cheating scandal. That didn’t stop her from showing up at Temple last night for an apparently civil apparently not so civil education “Town Hall” featuring some Rhee-friendly panelists (CNN contributor Dr. Steve Perry and a deputy of hers, George Parker).

Like her Sunday Inquirer opinion piece, which shed zero new light on Philly’s schools crisis, Rhee last night repeated familiar talking points about the need for reform. Teacher seniority, she said, was already a harmful policy. That the Corbett administration is withholding much-needed funds for Philly schools until Philly’s teachers union give up or reformed such policies, only increased the incentive to enact changes. She also may have quelled some critics (or not) by emphasizing that her vision for teacher evaluation did not rely solely on high-stakes standardized testing, but also on “students’ demographic information” and “teacher’s relationship with the school community.”

In other Schoolmaggeddon ’13 news, left-wing literary journal N+1 has been pounding the pavement on Philly’s schools too. In the past week, it’s published two breakdowns of the school crisis which is extremely sympathetic to the teachers’ unions, and, well, not exactly sympathetic to the Michelle Rhee faction of the Philly schools debate.