A couple of weeks ago I headed over to the American Enterprise Institute to hear a panel discussion on Rick Hess' new book Cage-busting Leadership. Among the participants were Michelle Rhee, Deborah Gist, and Kaya Henderson. It was fantastic to see Ms. Gist again after all these years.
However, the individual who impressed me the most was Ms. Rhee. Now I know, I have never had any kind words for the ex-DCPS Chancellor. But on this day she spoke about her experience in finding a good general counsel. She related that lawyers come in three categories; bad ones, compliance ones, and those that are Cage-busters. Ms. Rhee related that at most bureaucratic organizations you find compliance lawyers who say no to most requests for change because they are fearful of losing their positions. I have certainly experienced this in my many years of work experience. In fact, this type of lawyer is the norm.
Ms. Rhee stated that she was speaking in front of a group of attorneys when she "went off" about the legal profession. One individual in the room, James Sandman, told her he could help. At the time he worked at the Arnold and Porter law firm. She hired him and that is when, according to Ms. Rhee, she was first able to make substantial reforms in the traditional school system.
Over at the Washington Post, Valerie Strauss reports that New York University professor Diane Ravitch has now come out against the Common Core Standards. She opposes them for many of the same reason I don't like their adoption by 47 states and the District of Columbia. Ms. Ravitch remarks that their use was supposed to be voluntary, however, she points out that the U.S. Department of Education is coercing their acceptance through the bribe of substantial amounts of Race To the Top funding.
In addition, the education researcher states that the standards are untested. She writes, "They are being imposed on the children of this nation despite the fact that no one has any idea how they will affect students, teachers, or schools. We are a nation of guinea pigs, almost all trying an unknown new program at the same time." I couldn't agree more. The Federal governement should stay out of the education business which, according to our Constitution, it has no delineated role.