Thursday, October 14, 2010

When the Going Gets Tough: Thoughts on Michelle Rhee's Departure

Well, Michelle Rhee is quitting. I apparently didn't get the memo that quitting is the noble thing to do. I mean, Sarah Palin got it and Michelle Rhee got it, but I didn't. I don't know. Maybe I was too busy teaching to catch it.

You see, Michelle Rhee is quitting to keep the reforms moving forward. Of course. One less person doing the work always helps to move the work forward. I'm no great fan of Rhee or what she espouses, but still, can I point out the logical lapse here? Michelle, honey, I am not going to be a more effective teacher if I decide to, uh, quit teaching. I'd admire her a lot more if she said, "I don't want to try to work with this mayor who looks like he's going to show me some pushback," or "Forget it, I want to be a full-time housewife." Fair enough. At least that's honest. But don't give me this I-love-school-"reform"-so-much-that-I-must-stop-"reforming" nonsense.

In Rhee's statement, I hear echoes of Sarah Palin's resignation speech, the one in which she claimed to love Alaska so much that she realized she could make way more money and get way more attention being a "pundit." (I'm putting that in quotes because I'm not sure Palin even qualifies as a pundit.) Palin was roundly denounced as a quitter, even by former fans, and with good reason.

And I'm not going to say that I never thought about quitting teaching. Heck, I'm not going to say that I don't still think about it. But if nothing else, I get credit, at least from myself, for two things: First of all, for now, I haven't quit. I do still get up every morning and try to do a tiny bit better, or at least no worse, than I did the day before. And second, I'm not going to make myself bigger than the work, which is what both Palin and Rhee are guilty of. If I left, I'm sure that my school could find someone just as good as me to take my place, and my students would still get a good education. It wouldn't be the end of the world. Rhee and Palin make themselves seem irreplaceable, that they are the only ones big and bad enough to stand up to the nasty ol' unions and the liberal media.

But Alaska went on without Sarah Palin. Schools will go on without Michelle Rhee. I sure will.

blog comments powered by Disqus