Photo: Iris Harris - U.S. Department of Commerce
At the Chalk Face
has obtained an internal briefing document from Michelle Rhee's Students First, and makes clear just how extensively Students First collaborated with Michigan Republicans on four education bills targeting teachers, including one limiting collective bargaining. The 30-page PDF is available here
The crucial take-away is that although Rhee has claimed publicly that eliminating collective bargaining is not her end goal, and although Students First didn't publicly support Michigan's bill limiting collective bargaining for teachers, the document leaves no doubt that in fact the organization privately supported the bill, saying:
StudentsFirst did not work directly with the House on the collective bargaining bill and we have not expressed public support for the bill. However, many of the things they included in the bill came from our policy agenda and pave the way for implementing a new eval process, mutual consent and performance based RIFs.
However, even the claim that Students First did not work directly on this bill is contradicted elsewhere. In fact, the discussion of the legislation begins:
The [Republican House Education Committee chair] Rep. Scott and the House Republicans worked closely with StudentsFirst to develop four* bills.
Elsewhere, the document notes that:
It’s important to understand that all four bills work TOGETHER and they are a precursor to upcoming legislation that will completely change Michigan’s current evaluation process and establish merit pay. All of the bills are tie-barred to each other so that none could go into effect unless the others were also enacted into law.
Additionally, the document ends by thanking a Republican House aide:
Also, if given the chance, you should thank Jason Mancini who literally ran every amendment by me before deciding to allow it in committee. He also sent me multiple drafts of the bills during the drafting process.
So: Students First did not publicly support the bill limiting collective bargaining, and their most direct claim is that they did not work on it. But many things in the bill came from their policy agenda, it paves the way for a fuller expression of their agenda, they worked with the chair of the House Education Committee on four bills, none of the four bills can go into effect without the others, and a House aide ran every amendment by Students First before allowing it in committee.
No difference between their public and private positions at all, is there? None at all. And that's saying something, given that their public position is in support of a bill that changes the standard for teacher demotion from requiring "reasonable and just cause" to allowing it as long as the reason isn't "arbitrary and capricious." Anything short of arbitrary and capricious, yet not reasonable or just, is apparently just dandy.
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