Courtesy of the Washington Post, Steve Pearlstein interviews Michelle Rhee on her failed gambit to get teachers to give up tenure protections in exchange for a chance to make more money. It shines an interesting light on how Rhee thinks. She completely fails to understand why teachers rejected her ideas -- namely that they distrust her personally, that money by itself is not the strongest motivator of most teachers (else they would be in different professions), and that any teacher who accepted Rhee's "green plan" would be breaking ranks with her fellow teachers, thereby putting herself in an uncomfortable and possibly precarious situation.
Instead, Rhee offers two explanations. First, a lack of communication, which enabled "misinformation" about the plan to take root. Second, that a rank-and-file contingent (the leadership is written off) she expected as vocal supporters of the plan failed to materialize. Pearlstein helpfully offers a "Gresham's Law" (bad money drives out the good) interpretation of the latter, and Rhee riffs on that, bringing us back to her favorite good teacher/bad teacher theme. The bad teachers (in her view) were the vocal activists at union meetings who fought against the plan, while the good teachers who, Rhee is certain, favored the plan were too busy at home working on the next day's lesson to come out in support.
In other words, Rhee remains convinced that she is right: if teachers actually understoond the plan and could have democratically expressed their preference, they would have endorsed it. Not for a moment does she consider that teachers might have legitimate reasons for opposition to her plan, and Pearlstein smiles and probes not. By (again) mobilizing the good teacher/bad teacher schtick, she demonstrates that she fails to understand how offensive this is to ALL teachers because it only serves to fuel the deep anti-teacher sentiment so rife these days. And that this offensiveness breeds loathing and distrust.
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