Activist Michell Rhee, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson tour California to talk education reform

12:08 AM, Jan 26, 2012   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA -  Education activist Michelle Rhee and her husband, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, are hitting the road with their listening tour of California to gather support for education reform.

On Wednesday, Rhee, the former Washington D.C. education chief brought her controversial brand of reform to a crowded town hall forum at the Sacramento Library.

Rhee is CEO of StudentsFirst, a grass roots movement to transform public education.

"Every decision we make has to be in the best interests of children," Rhee said. "If you can change that framework, you can create a sea change in the system."

But reform means weeding out under performing schools and teachers.

Rhee wants more accountability in schools. She would like teachers to be "pink slipped" according to performance, not tenure.

"My granddaughter reads at a second grade level, but the schools where I assistant teach, some first graders don't know their ABC's," teacher Linda Nowell said.

StudentsFirst claims that it's successfully changed education policy in seven states, including Florida and Indiana. The group has backed initiatives to increase access to charter schools and use student test scores to evaluate teachers and principals.

But not everyone likes the idea.  

A small group of protestors, some of them teachers, gathered outside the event with their mouths taped shut. A symbol of their voices not being heard.

The group thinks Rhee's ideas at too radical and accuse her of trying to "corporatize" public schools.

"As a teacher, I'm working on ways to improve what we do," teacher Lori Jablonski said. "Parents and teachers know what to do; they're being left out of this debate." 


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