Rhee pitches Connecticut’s school reforms to NEA and AFT

Michelle Rhee, teachers’ union adversary and one of the most controversial names in the education reform movement, is pitching the Connecticut reforms signed into law last month as a peace offering to the presidents of the nation’s largest unions.

“We are pleased that both of your organizations have described the reforms recently passed in Connecticut as a victory,” her Wednesday letter to the presidents of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers reads. “They can be part of a national model… Many states across the country are considering or have considered similar reforms… but advocates in those states have often had trouble securing support for these reforms from your local unions, and we hope you will speak up in support of these important reforms.”

True, the unions endorsed the final education bill signed into law. But the process wasn’t always that smooth.

Local affiliates of the NEA and AFT led two days of rallying at the state Capitol against key components of a bill proposed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. The state’s largest union spent hundreds of thousands of dollars airing television and radio attack advertisements.

Rhee points to three reforms signed into law that unions supported shortly after the bill was signed into law, including creating a network of schools the state intervenes in, building teacher evaluations linked to student growth and increasing charter school funding.

The implementation of one of these reforms is already causing consternation with officials at the CEA.

The Huffington Post has a good rundown of the rocky relationship between Rhee and the national unions and their reaction to her letter.

“NEA members know great public schools for every student are built on collaboration through trust and engagement, not by sending messages through the media,” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel told the Huffington Post.

Rhee may be pitching Connecticut as a national model, but she has also said her lobbying for additional education reforms in Connecticut is far from done.