A national leader in education reform says now is the time for West Virginia to get on board with large scale changes to improve overall student achievement.
“There is a wave that is happening right now. West Virginia just is not a part of that yet,” Michelle Rhee, a former Washington, D.C. public schools chancellor, said on Tuesday’s “MetroNews Talkline.”
“That doesn’t mean, though, that the state can’t quickly get there. If you have a dedicated and committed Legislature, political officials who are willing to take this on, you can see some really quick change.”
Rhee became a nationally known and somewhat controversial figure in education when she first took over the failing school system in Washington, D.C. in 2007.
In her three years in that role, she closed underperforming schools, reduced the number of central office administrators, ended teacher tenure and fired hundreds of teachers and school principals.
She was criticized for largely relying on the results of standardized tests to rate teachers and students. There were allegations of cheating on those standardized tests under her watch.
Rhee, who founded an advocacy group called StudentsFirst in 2010, writes about her career and ongoing education reform work in her new memoir, Radical: Fighting to Put Students First.
StudentsFirst recently gave West Virginia an ‘F’ grade for its education policy environment. “West Virginia got an ‘F’ because, quite frankly, because the laws and policies that are in place really work against student achievement,” she said.
Now is the time, Rhee says, for everyone to get involved in education to make sure that high quality teachers are in every classroom, parents and families have good school options and taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely.
“There is a tremendous amount that can happen at the state level where people are putting pressure on state legislators to start to put laws and policies in place that are going to finally make sure that the interests of children are the priority,” she said.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is expected to propose a number of education reforms during his State of the State Address, coming up next Wednesday night, at the State Capitol.
That will be the first day of the 2013 Regular Legislative Session.
Prior to her Tuesday appearance on MetroNews Talkline, Rhee talked about her book on the Monday night edition of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.