DREAMers protest StudentsFirst's anti-immigrant endorsement.
While Michelle Rhee has been in Tampa, accompanied by former Florida governor and presidential son and little brother Jeb Bush, to flog
the "parent trigger"-themed movie Won't Back Down
at the Republican National Convention, the New York outpost of her StudentsFirst organization has been facing protests from immigrant groups over the national StudentsFirst endorsement
of Georgia state Sen. Chip Rogers as its "education reformer of the year."
StudentsFirst has circulated petitions supporting the DREAM Act, with people who signed the petitions being counted as StudentsFirst members. But the choice of Chip Rogers, among all the legislators around the country pushing corporate education policies, as the top "reformer" of the year shows just how false that interest is. In 2004, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that:
In the Georgia General Assembly, State Rep. Chip Rogers of Cherokee County has sponsored three anti-immigration bills, one of which would cut off all state services to illegal immigrants. "I don't think these folks are coming to America so they can make use of our social services, our schools and hospitals," Rogers says.
"They're coming for work. But we can't fail to recognize what it's doing to our health-care system, our prisons and our schools. One study showed that the state of Georgia spent $260 million to educate illegal immigrants last year."
Rogers acknowledges that "some people are beginning to target people for hatred," but he lays the blame largely on the immigrants themselves. "I truly believe that if it weren't for the high levels of illegal immigration, we wouldn't have the targeting, the prejudice, even if there were still high numbers of Hispanic people in Georgia.
Rogers continues to tout his anti-immigrant work on his website today. So the supposedly pro-DREAM Act, supposedly pro-student StudentsFirst's favorite legislator authored a law to keep DREAMers and other undocumented immigrant kids from going to school. That's just perfect. StudentsFirstNY's super compelling response was to try to paint the protesting DREAMers as puppets of teachers unions.
Closing the circle nicely, the Rhee-Bush event during the RNC was moderated by Campbell Brown, who recently wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed attacking teachers unions without disclosing that her husband, Dan Senor, is on the board of StudentsFirstNY. Florida defeated a parent trigger bill just this year, in a fight in which "Not a single major Florida parent organization supported the bill, including the PTA," with parents' groups opposed to the bill believing it "would lead to the takeover of public schools by for-profit charter management companies and other corporate interests," but with such emphasis from people like Rhee and Bush, it's likely to reappear on the agenda.