I'm not sure exactly how much money they spent on the constant daily slick ads that suddenly appeared on TV:
Michigan teachers could only be laid off on seniority grounds, not success in the classroom, they claimed. State kids were in great peril of getting a bad education, because the "great teachers" would all be lost! The clear implication was that most current Michigan teachers really don't care about their students, and those students must be rescued from the mostly incompetent teachers.
The source of these distorted ads was "Students First" a fanatical organization run by Michelle Rhee. Rhee, the education expert, only taught school herself for three years, and was never a principal. But she was appointed as chancellor of the Washington D.C. public schools in 2007.
Getting the local teachers to agree to one year without tenure, Rhee fired 500 aids, 241 teachers, 36 principals and closed 23 schools. She claimed an improvement in student achievement, but there has been much controversy over the accuracy of school district test scores. For example, too many erasures were found to have been changed to the right answer on tests. When Rhee left her job in 2010, only 28% of the African Americans in the community supported her.
Rhee, concluding publicly on talk shows that all her problems were caused by the teachers unions, has become a political darling of the conservative community.
Today the Michigan House of Representatives voted to smash teacher tenure, immediately after the fancy, expensive ad campaign, before any of the stunned targets could have time to respond. The state teacher union already supports streamlining the process to fire incompetent teachers. But this is the whole enchilada.
Employees would not be able to negotiate on discharge, evaluation, or teaching assignments. In other words, an excellent 20-year teacher could be fired overnight by a principal who didn't like her or her politics. Or a principal who wanted to save a ton of money by hiring all new college grads. Could it be that there are other goals in mind besides saving greatly endangered Michigan school children? Like wiping out one of the few organizations that have enough money to run political ads to counter those of the business lobbies and the wealthy and the powerful?
This direct, planned assault on unions and on the middle class can no longer be ignored. We must act now.