A private group founded by former Washington, D.C., schools chief Michelle Rhee has given New York state a grade of “D” for how its education policies “serve students and schools.”
The controversial Rhee is well known for wanting to up-end public education by making it easier to, among other things, fire teachers and open charter schools. The state-by-state grades issued today by her group, StudentsFirst, depend largely on how much progress states have made in working toward her goals.
A summary of New York’s performance includes some pointed criticism that many critics of public education might like:
Seniority still drives layoff decisions, leaving effective teachers at risk. The state has adopted a better educator evaluation model, although objective measures of student growth should weigh more heavily in determining teacher effectiveness. New York must also require districts to base personnel decisions on effectiveness, including dismissal, tenure attainment and revocation, and salary decisions. The state should also free teachers locked into the state’s existing outdated pension system by offering more attractive, portable retirement options.
Interestingly, the American Federation of Teachers put out a statement this afternoon mocking Rhee’s report cards. The statement notes that in the “upside-down world of Michelle Rhee,” Louisiana and Florida had the highest grades in the country (only Bs), even though Louisiana generally does poorly in other educational measures.
The AFT says this:
The real issue with these report cards is that they fail to measure what matters most to parents, teachers and students. The report cards are silent regarding student achievement, school safety, small class sizes, early childhood education, investments in education, graduation rates or reading instruction.
StudentsFirst is a tough grader. Twelve states got Fs. None got As.