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“Decisions that affect our public schools are too often made based on the desires of adults rather than the needs of kids.” Michelle Rhee
As I begin this blog post, I recognize that I’ve read at least 10 commentaries on the state of K-12 education this year and its only March. However, former DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s comments rang true to me because she talks about taking the focus away from the adults in education asking instead that we put students first.
As an educator steeped in the belief that all good education should (at its center) do what is best for children, Rhee’s analysis of where we are and (more importantly) where we should be going is worth consideration. Admittedly, Rhee’s opinions about where we are in education are not new. Like others, Rhee worries about the decline in student performance internationally and teacher evaluations as a tool to reprimand instead of encouraging teacher performance. However, it is encouraging that while Rhee asks us to carefully watch our ranking among other countries in assessment, she also asks us to continue to focus on how our students are performing at home particularly students of color who continue to fall behind academically (especially in poor neighborhoods). Moreover, I appreciate her effort to spotlight what I believe is our biggest challenge – putting the needs of students first. Like Rhee, I believe getting rid of “adult focused policies” is the only way to truly put the focus squarely on the needs of students.
Ultimately, putting students first even if it makes adults in the community uncomfortable is the right thing to do in order to help reverse many of the current challenges in education. Our students deserve a system that provides a quality education no matter who you are or where you live. I think it is time as an industry to put students first. tlb