This could not depress me more. Molly Ball’s piece at the Atlantic portrays Michelle Rhee as getting close to setting the education agenda for the Democratic Party:
Yet there are signs that Rhee’s persona non grata status in her party is beginning to wane — starting with the fact that the chairman of the Democratic convention, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, spoke at the movie screening Rhee hosted at the convention earlier this week. Another Democratic star, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, spoke at the cocktails-and-canapes reception afterward. Across the country, Democratic officials from governors like Colorado’s John Hickenlooper to former President Clinton — buoyed by the well-funded encouragement of the hedge-fund bigwigs behind much of the charter-school movement — are shifting the party’s consensus away from the union-dictated terms to which it has long been loyal. Instead, they’re moving the party toward a full-fledged embrace of the twin pillars of the reform movement: performance-based incentives for teachers, and increased options, including charter schools, for parents.
The inroads made by the education reformers go all the way to the top — to President Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the “Race to the Top” initiative that required states to make reforms to get federal education funds — and they amount to a major shift for the Democratic Party on one of its signature issues. “These are some of the most high-profile Democrats out there,” Rhee says, also mentioning Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel, Philadelphia’s Michael Nutter, and her husband, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. “They are taking on the unions. They are fighting for what they believe in. It definitely signals a new day.
Meanwhile, Rhee’s propaganda film machine has gone from documentaries to feature films. Coming out soon is “Won’t Back Down” with Maggie Gyllenhall playing a woman who is trying to get her child out of a failing school but just can’t thanks to big bad teacher unions who won’t allow the firing of teachers without a hearing. The film is produced by Walden Media, a company financed by right-wing billionaire Philip Anschutz. Among the other things Anschutz has funded is Colorado for Family Values, the group behind the state’s 1992 anti-gay ballot measure and Enough is Enough, a “family values” organization headed by Donna Rice that opposes the evils of pornography.
I know I am excited to see right-wing billionaire funded propaganda influencing Democratic Party policy.