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Public education — are we under, over or just misspending? Michelle Rhee at TEDxWallStreet

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Public education — are we under, over or just misspending? Michelle Rhee at TEDxWallStreet


Translator: Gustavo Rocha
Reviewer: Capa Girl Good afternoon, my name is Michelle Rhee, I am the former chancellor of the Washington DC schools I’m also currently the CEO of an organization called Students First. And the whole idea behind Students First is a simple one, and it is that: if you look over the last twenty to thirty years in this country, at the decisions that we have been making about education, they have largely been driven by special interest groups. So you have textbook manufacturers, you have teacher’s unions, you have testing companies. You’ve all these organizations that have tremendous resources and therefore tremendous influence on how decisions get made. So, that’s the way the world works. The fact those organizations exist is not actually the problem. The problem that we face is that there is no organized national interest group with the same heft that, say, the teacher’s union that’s advocating on behalf of children in education. So, when children are left out of the equation and no one is defending what is good and right for them and you have all these other special interests what you end up with is a landscape that is very skewed towards the adults and very skewed away from children. So, that’s exactly what Students First aims to try to do, is balance that equation out and make sure that we have millions of members across the country that are advocating for what children deserve. So, I am often asked, because I was both the superintendent of a school district and now I run this organization, people always say, “What’s wrong with education in America today?” “Why are we doing so poorly?” And often times people say, you know, “Give us what the biggest issue in education is.” And I always refuse to answer that question. I refuse to answer it because actually what is wrong with our system is pretty complicated and when you try to distill it down to just one thing then it sort of implies that if you solve that one thing you’re gonna fix all of the problems, when in fact that is actually not true. But people don’t like taking no for an answer, and so usually — It is the press, the media, they’re very persistent and they go to me on, it’s like, “Come on, tell us what it is! It’s the teacher’s union, isn’t it? Or the parents, or we don’t have enough money? Come on, tell us what it is.” And you’ve actually probably heard a lot of this too, you go to your cocktail parties you and your friends sort of bemoaned the state of public education in our country, and then inevitably it sort of devolves down into what we need to do is invest more in our schools. The question is: is that really right? So, I’m gonna show you some data, the first slide, when Americans are asked how much money they think we are spending on public education in America today. What do they say? They think that we spend about four thousand dollar a year per kid. The reality is that we spend several times that, actually about ten thousand dollar a year. So there’s a huge disconnect and that is not the only disconnect because when those same people are asked they will very confidently tell you that they believe if we spent more money on education we would get better results. So take a look at this: the red line shows the expenditure growth on education over the last few decades in this country and the blue line shows our academic achievement levels, of our children in both reading and math and as you can see we have grown several times what we are spending and yet our children’s academic progress has remained pretty stagnant. This creates an incredibly difficult dynamic in these top economic times where people are still trying to figure out what to cut in the budgets, etc. Because if, for example, in the last few decades we had tripled the expenditures and the achievement levels had also tripled, then you would be able to say, “Ok, if you cut our budget by ten percent this is the loss that you are gonna see.” But we actually can’t show that at all, in fact, in the last couple of years there’ve been several states that have cut their education budgets and seen their academic achievement levels rise so we’re in this really tough quandary right now about — you know, what the relationship is between expenditures and progress. So why is there this disconnect? What’s the problem? Where is all of this money going? If we have grown the amount of money that we are spending so much and we haven’t seen the results, what’s happening? So I’m gonna tell you a very quick story from when I was the chancellor in Washington DC. In 2007 I took over the Washington DC public schools, at the time they were largely known as the most dysfunctional and lowest performing school district in the entire nation. Just to give a sliver of data to elucidate that for you: of all of the 8th graders who were attending school in DC in 2007 only 8% of them were on grade level in mathematics 8 % — which means that 92% of our kids did not have the skills and knowledge necessary to be productive members of society. So, it was no surprise that the young upstart mayor who had just been elected, his name was Adrian Fenty, decided that as his major priority he was gonna take on fixing the schools. Because his theory was: you cannot have a great city without a great public school system. So, he decided to introduce legislation that would allow him to take over mayoral control of the schools. And he got the legislation past and in June of 2007, as his first act of having control of the schools, he nominated me as the city’s first school’s chancellor. Now, I was a 37 year old Korean girl from Toledo, Ohio, who had never run a school much less a school district. So people were looking at him and saying, “This guy’s crazy. Why would he think that she is a person who can fix the most dysfunctional school district in the country?” And so for days the thought that was teeming through everybody’s mind was, What on God’s green Earth is Adrian Fenty thinking? And that was pretty much what I was thinking as I was sitting in my office the first few days of my tenure, thinking, where do you start when you have to fix something where every single thing is broken essentially? So, I was lucky enough to have lots of people who wanted to come in and help and a number of these people had actually seen what had been going on in the school district for several decades and they had lot of thoughts about what needed to change. Over and over again in my conversations with them what they said to me was, “You have to find out, Michelle, where all of the money is going.” Because we were spending almost more money in Washington DC, per child, than any other urban jurisdiction in the country yet our results were absolutely abysmal. So, when you went into the schools you saw dilapidated school buildings, you saw teachers who had to buy supplies with their own money, it did not feel like one of the richest school districts in the nation. So it made sense to us that we would try to figure out where the money was being spent. So, I sent my team out, I said, you know, go look at every spreadsheet, every excel document you can, tell me where we’re spending the money. So, a couple of weeks later my special assistant comes back to me and he says: “Ok, I did exactly what you said, I looked at all of the largest budget items and tried to figure out where they are going.” He said, “I have found two very interesting things.” Now, in education speak, interesting is code for whack –(Laughter) So, the first thing that he says is, “Number one: we are spending about ninety million dollars a year transporting a few thousand special education kids through the system.” So, I do the quick back of the envelope math, ’cause that sounds a little nuts and it turns out that it’s about 18,000 dollars per year per kid on transportation. So, I said, I don’t know anything about running bus routes, but I’m pretty sure I can do it for less than 18,000 dollars a year. For 18,000 dollars a year you could buy the kid a Saturn the first year, and a personal chauffeur for the Saturn every year after that. So, I am confident that we can do it more effectively. and the good news is that we’re gonna be able to take the savings and push it down into the classroom where it’s gonna have more of an impact on kids. And he said, “Actually, not so fast.” See, the problem is that the district had done such a poor job of transporting the special needs kids to their schools in the past that now we’re under a court order, a consent decree and there’s this court appointed special master, and he has the responsibility for transporting the kids to school every day, he’s allowed to spend as much money as he wants, and all we can do at the end of the year is pay the bill. We have absolutely no ability to control cost. And I said, that is the craziest thing I have ever heard! And he said that’s because you haven’t heard titbit number two — (Laughter) He said i’m trying to figure out where are all these children going. Washington DC is only a few square miles wide and long, you could be doing laps around the city all day and you still shouldn’t be able to burn off 18,000 dollars worth of fuel, so where is all the money going? It turns out that we were not just doing a bad job of transporting these special education kids, we were doing a very bad job of educating them as well. And this sort of culture became that parents would sue the school district because their kids weren’t getting the services and resources that they needed. We would inevitably lose that lawsuit, because we were, in fact, doing a pretty sucky job and then, the court would prescribe a remedy and most often that remedy was that they would send them to a private school and we would be required to pay the tuition to that private school. And it was not just that, but every kid had a different remedy. So, you had a situation where you might have a housing complex, that had ten special needs kids living in it, and each of these ten kids would all be assigned to a different school in these far-flung places, in Virginia and in Maryland. So you’d have ten different buses roll up in the morning with ten different bus drivers and ten different bus matrons who were making sure that the kids are ok on the bus, all going in different directions to these far-flung places. That was one of the reasons that we were spending all of this money and not seeing any results. Now, this is actually not just unique to Washington DC. If you look at this next slide you will see that since the 1970s we have had more than 26 states have court mandated, sort of education finance cases, that have resulted in really, really dramatic increases to funding, education funding. And the whole goal of that was to try to equalize things and make the education achievement levels of minority kids more… equal to where it was for other children. Have we succeed to that? No is the quick answer. If you look at the minority achievement level in these 26 states, it really hasn’t gone anywhere, in fact, a review of three states in particular shows that the achievement levels of the minority kids in these three states where they had these increases actually didn’t even keep up with the national averages. This is not just about the courts, it is about lots of different special interest groups. You have the state governments, you have the federal government, you have school board, everybody wants to put in set-asides. So, they say, we want some of this money to go to curriculum development, we want some of the money to go to this community program, we want some of the money to go to textbook adoptions, and they mandate these set-asides and what it results in is that of the 10,000 dollars that we are spending per child, actually only about half of it is going into the classroom where we think it’s gonna have the most impact, the rest of it is going to these other things. So, this slide actually jives more with people’s perceptions of how much money is being spent, because that’s what they see in the classroom. So, let’s get to what needs to happen about it. It’s actually pretty simple. We need to stop spending money on things that do not work and start putting our money towards the things that do. More specifically what that means in a school district is that we should set really specific goals for what we expect a classroom or a school to achieve, we have to give people the freedom and the autonomy to make the decisions about where those dollars are gonna be best spent to get to that goal. Then we have to measure whether or not they met the goal or not, and then we have to have some accountabilty, so, if you did meet the goal or exceeded the goal then we’re gonna look at what you did and we’re gonna share those best practices with others. And if you did not meet the goal then we’re not gonna let you spend the money in the same way. But that is not the way that we run things. So, in order to change the system it’s not just gonna require a change with the courts and the federal government. It actually also requires a cultural change. And let me tell you why. As a parent, and I have two kids, I had this perception of what school should look like for my two daughters. So when my daughter went to kindergarten, I thought, I want a grandmotherly woman who has had a long teaching career, who will take my daughter on her lap, and read her a book and if she’s only in the classroom with 15 or 16 other kids, that’s gonna be better for my child. What I don’t want is for her to be sitting in front of you know, computers, in front of a computer screen because that seems cold and rigid and that sort of thing, right? So this is what we believe we hold as our — sort of beliefs. But the reality actually is that the research shows that class size largely doesn’t matter. If you have a smaller class size versus a larger class size, it doesn’t have that much impact on a student’s achievement levels, and the latest data that’s coming out from some of these new programs that utilize technology pretty heavy in the classroom shows very good results for kids because you can differentiate for the individual needs of every child. So, at the end of the day what we have to do is ensure that we are not continuing to spend more money and not fix the system and expect that we’re gonna get a different result. What we need to do is something very very different we have to reinvigorate the system by investing in what works and by innovating. So, the bottom line is that the next time you go to a cocktail party where you hear your friend Ted say that we’ve gotta spend more money on education to fix it. You should say, “Do we, Ted? Do we?” Because really what we ought to be doing is ensuring that we are not over mandating and over prescribing where the dollar should be spent. That we’re innovating around new strategies that can help kids learn and that at the end of the day, we should funnel our resources to where we know it’s working for kids. That is surely gonna make you the head of the party. Thank you.

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98 thoughts on “Public education — are we under, over or just misspending? Michelle Rhee at TEDxWallStreet”

  1. pjb0515 says:

    Not saying that I disagree about spending and performance being tied together, but $2808 in 1960 is equal to $20,424 in 2008, so spending has not gone up and in fact been reduced in half. I am really not a fan of misleading statistics.

  2. Julian W. - Gwangju says:

    Teachers' unions are "special interest groups" ..? Sure! But if you start from the position that teachers do not have their students' best interests at heart before even going into the job, then that says more about your own trust issues and therefore about yourself in general. To thus define teachers' unions merely as "special interest groups" implying that they solely exist for the sake of applying political pressure is absurdly reductionist and indicative of self-reflective distrust.

  3. Julian W. - Gwangju says:

    This is a very well delivered speech, but at the end of it all, it presents nothing new other than a few statistics which are always questionable and of dubious validity. It is just a rehashing of the perspective that corporateÔĽŅ principles should be applied to the teaching profession.
    Given the example of Aotearoa/New Zealand, which has extremely strong teachers' unions, they can certainly not be held responsible for less than impressive quality. I can only guess that it's the local culture.

  4. pjb0515 says:

    I tend to think that the major problem is that we reward memorization and ignore creativity and problem solving ability. We need to teach concepts not answers. More time is spent memorizing times tables instead of the actual reasons and concepts behind multiplication. More time is spent on memorizing words and definitions instead of learning what the common parts of the words mean to come up with the whole definition on your own.

  5. Janet Wood says:

    Taxpayers would be appalled, if they knew the amount of money that goes to pay the exorbitant salaries of so-called administrators.

    People with fancy titles by their name, but do NOTHING that benefits students.
    (e.g. Curriculum Directors, Assessment Coordinators, Program Managers, Educational Consultants, etc!) People that have been out of the classroom in years, and are absolutely CLUELESS!

    " . . . wined and dined by the big publishing companies."

    " . . . and computer software companies."

  6. Bill Hogseth says:

    The first slide that she shows at approx 4:00 regarding the rise in spending per student versus the rise in achievement seems misleading due to the fact that a majority of spending increases since the 70's have been associated with the rise in special education and further inclusion of students with exceptional needs. Can anyone corroborate my hunch with real facts?

  7. oriana27 says:

    I completely agree with you that this is poorly presented. If you check online you can see that the figures she cites are inflation adjusted – she just doesn't say this or put a note about it on the slide. She really should have, it's confusing otherwise.

  8. oriana27 says:

    nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d04/tables/dt04_163.asp

  9. Papa Grab says:

    Like TED this woman is a fraud.

  10. Ray Walsh says:

    I'm a teacher, but I don't think we can assume that all teachers are motivated by the benefit of children. I've had bad teachers, and I'm sure many others have had or know of some bad, un-student-centered teachers in the past. Similarly, I am as skeptical of teachers' unions as I am of political parties – both serve arguably good causes, but seem to easily get caught up in their own survival and dominance agendas. Accountability is key. Trust should be given, but it also needs to be earned.

  11. Kelly G says:

    The cost per year chart makes it look like we are spending so much more on education…..now add a line that includes the cost of living increase and the minimum wage rates for the same so we can compare apples to apples!

  12. Papa Grab says:

    I'm with you 100% on your assessment of Rhee and her ilk.

  13. zacharyp32 says:

    Fuck Rhee. Test scores doesn't mean more learning. It could easily mean more cheating. Focus no intrinsic learning. Your destroying kids learning

  14. zacharyp32 says:

    I agree

  15. zacharyp32 says:

    No I'm a student who understands education. Rhee doesn't

  16. zacharyp32 says:

    she is, but I'm not sure about the comparison to TED

  17. Papa Grab says:

    Well delve a little deeper friend and you'll see through the thin veneer of "humanitarian philanthropy." TED is an elitist, pseudo-intellectual defense of the same neo-liberal/corporate philosophy that has gotten us into the mess we're in. Research what TED has censored and it's quite revealing. TED is pedestrian at best and caters to the not-so-bright, wealthy class that want to believe they care and are on the cutting edge of social thought…please.

  18. Mackenzie Kerby says:

    Love reading the comments of people who think that the schools aren't failing.

  19. LilithProductions says:

    There needs to be a shift from the memorization and regurgitation of sterile facts and processes to the teaching of critical thinking skills, reason, implementation of facts and data, and the proliferation of inquiry.

  20. lren45 says:

    She might have not mentioned it but the figure is definitely adjusted for inflation.

  21. Christine Bass says:

    My wife is and excellent award winning teacher and the results are clear but to say bad teachers should be allowed to stay at a school is crazy! And that's what the union always says. School boards for the most part are a joke. They just simply pacify the public, because they they get their info from the administration that is always protecting themselves!

  22. Papa Grab says:

    A brilliant reply. It's very difficult to counter such a solid and well hashed out argument. It's rare to find someone so taciturn who reveals such arrogance and ignorance. I would place this moniker on you if it were not an insult to morons everywhere, for even they can speak directly to a subject with more reason and depth than yourself. I think in your case dimwit or simpleton are more apropos. Keep up the great work.

  23. zacharyp32 says:

    your simply wasting your time by trying to mock me. Your not convincing me of anything but your own shallowness and stupidity. If you have something to say, say it. Otherwise, Fuck off.

  24. bootleg42 says:

    The entire education reform "movement" is fake. It's funded by wall st to destroy public schools in order to trick the public to allow power to privatize them. Michelle Rhee is their foot soldier.

    They claim students need to be "competitive" in this new "global economy". That's a farce. THEY engineered the economy to benefit the rich (the 1%), and to hurt poor and working people by exploiting labor in poorer countries at the expense of the U.S. wages, while putting protections for the rich.

  25. Neavris says:

    There's no defense for defending bad teachers. The unions spend so much money just on protecting their own jobs nowadays that we have almost as much non-teaching staff as teaching staff in schools all across the country. All that comes at the detriment to the children.
    When people find alternatives that works, like school vouchers, the unions go after them too. Completely insane world.

  26. bootleg42 says:

    No one defends bad teachers. The unions (like any union should) defends the rights of the teachers to prevent abuse from part of administration, and it fights the privatization of our PUBLIC schools.

    And we need non-teaching staff to deal with issues lower SES kids have. We need the social workers and para-professionals to help kids with problems other than pedagogical ones.

    Michelle Rhee works for Wall St. and hedge fund managers. She will be stopped.

  27. bootleg42 says:

    I wonder what public relations firm pays you to prop up Michelle Rhee with online comments???

    As I stated before, the entire education reform "movement" is fake. It's funded by wall st to destroy public schools in order to trick the public to allow power to privatize them. Michelle Rhee is their foot soldier.

  28. Neavris says:

    The unions does defend bad teachers… only one out of 1000 teachers are ever fired. The regulations to fire these is so long and complicated, it's often easier just to keep the bad teachers in "rubber rooms". This cannot continue. The teacher's union is a cartel, enslaving kids and preventing choice.

  29. Neavris says:

    Wall St. voted for Obama… People want kids and parents to have better choices than the filling public school system.

  30. bootleg42 says:

    Why in the world are you so eager to fire teachers? Is this your whole goal….to fire teachers? Gheez….I love how Wall St/private power apologists like you in hard economic times love to divert blame from the filthy rich, and love to direct it to teachers, librarians, firefighters, social workers, etc.

    Why don't you spend the same amount of energy to go after the hedge fund managers and banks, that collapsed the economy in 2008 and got bailouts right after, instead of defending their goals??

  31. bootleg42 says:

    I know Wall St voted for Obama. He is their golden boy.

    And this whole talk about "choice" is such an over used right-wing talking point. Public schools have been grossly underfunded. Any civilized society has a well funded PUBLIC school system for EVERYONE. People don't want to live in your hate-filled Ayn Rand world were "choice" and power is only for those with money, while everyone else rots.

    Public schools serves poor people and it has never been funded well. It needs to be funded.

  32. Neavris says:

    Public schools have never been underfunded. The teachers would strike instantly if it were. There's been an increase of 702% while the number of students enrolling each year has remained steady since the 1970s.
    Today, teachers comprise just half of all education jobs. -Friedman Fundation

  33. bootleg42 says:

    Public Schools HAVE been underfunded. Every study has shown it.

    On top of that, most of the actual spending goes to middle-men "education companies" (like McGraw Hill or pearson) who overcharge for lesson plans, books, tests, etc. (sounds like U.S healthcare system).

    The money has NEVER went directly to the schools, like in paying for much needed social workers, classrooms, school expansion, paper, pens, better pay (which means more teachers and lower class sizes), after-school programs, etc.

  34. Neavris says:

    All the middle-man companies you name compete to make better product for lower prices. I don't see why the schools would buy from them if it wasn't better that way. The public school system fights continuously with charter schools who do a much better job teaching. They try to shut them down. More choices is needed to see what could be done better than what the public school offer.

  35. bootleg42 says:

    Are you kidding me??? So McGraw Hill charging $400-$500 for a new edition of a book that basically has little-to-no changes from it's last edition is a "better product for lower prices"?? Or Pearson charging tens of thousands of dollars for practice tests that any teacher or dept can make themselves with just a pen & paper??? That's not efficient at all. It's public money subsidizing private corporations. The money has never went directly to the schools. Shameful of you to defend those companies

  36. bootleg42 says:

    And about charter schools being better, the data shows differently. They perform the same or lower. Diane Ravitch (the leading scholar in U.S. education) has already stated how the vast majority of charter schools do not result in better performance by standardized test measures than the public schools, and a substantial portion do markedly worse.

    A sane civil society fund it's PUBLIC schools well, not allow edcuation models that resemble 3rd world country models (like what Rhee wants).

  37. Neavris says:

    The schools are free to purchase what they want, they aren't forced to do business with Mcgraw or whatever. But Mcgraw and Pearson and others do compete with each others. The teachers you claim that can do better can start a company at any point in time in an economically free society. But the more money the gov takes away from people, the less free they are. If you look around at 3rd world country, they are far from having freedom of choice in their education. More choice is better.

  38. bootleg42 says:

    That shows how little you know about education.

    Cities and districts (the mayors or higher ups) are the ones who decide how to spend the money, NOT the actual teachers or the schools. Those private education companies are leeches, and that money goes to waste by going in their pockets INSTEAD of going directly to schools themselves.

    And Rhee's system is very similar to Colombia's models, private schools everywhere, and some charter schools. Guess the result?? 3rd world education system.

  39. Neavris says:

    1. You can vote for a different mayor. A ton of democrats spend money on unions rather than on children's books. Now that's a waste.
    More choice improve the ability to choose what is best for the parents. Charter are soooo much more in demands than regular schools that the unions and the gov started a war over it not long ago to shut down the best charter schools.
    The parents hate this inequality, where liberal lawyers send their kids to private schools but don't let others have any choice.

  40. bootleg42 says:

    I wish a "ton of democrats spend money on unions", because that's far from the truth. The democrats, (along with republicans) are at war with unions, in particular they're at war with public sector unions.

    You're right about one thing, we can vote for different mayors to change HOW the money is spent, but if we allowed charter schools or privatize public schools, then we lose that ability, and those decisions would go into the hands of JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup, etc..

  41. Neavris says:

    More economic freedom will undermine cronyism from both corp and from unions by returning the power in the hand of the citizen.
    Another thing, I'm not a uneducated 20-y old liberal with no degree (or art degree), you simply cannot scare me by using bank names. If we had more economic freedom, anybody could start their own bank with their own competing currencies bound on the dollar. Politicians don't produce anything.

  42. bootleg42 says:

    If "more economic freedom will undermine cronyism" from corporations, then why do they lobby so hard to get that "economic freedom"????

    I know you're not a liberal. Nor am I. I'm an anarchist (you know….the REAL extension of classical liberalism) You're probably a U.S. "libertarian" who roams the internet every time they hear about unions to talk bad online and the such.

    U.S. "libertarians" only promote private power running the show, and they HATE democracy. Democracy will prevail.

  43. Neavris says:

    LOL you're not anarchist, socialist liberal is more like it. The more money you send to the government the more power they get. The best way to detect liberals who lie about their affiliations is to note the inconsistencies in what they claim.
    Businesses and organizations are forced into lobbying because of the politicians. Think about silicon valley. They were very lightly regulated in the 80-90s and had almost no lobbyist. Then the gov noticed them and all of a sudden lobbying increased.

  44. bootleg42 says:

    So you're saying politicians forced private power to lobby the government to try to gain more "economic freedom"??? LMAO. I knew U.S. "libertarians" were a joke, but this takes the cake.

    And I am an anarchist, because I can support democracy (unlike you U.S. "libertarians" who HATE democracy and love private power ruling over us all). I'm realist in the sense that I don't automatically want to eliminate everything from the state right now. We need PUBLIC spending on health, education etc

  45. Neavris says:

    You obviously don't understand how the economy works. Money buys favors. Companies have to compete with each other. If one company lobby to get rights which disfavor it's competitors, then they have to pay up too to get an even treatment. Politicians aren't angels, they don't produce anything.
    The USA is a republic, not a democracy. Anarchy is the lack of any government, meaning, no democracy either.
    You seem worried over the top about this video without a clear understanding of how things work.

  46. bootleg42 says:

    Anarchy IS democracy. It means no powerful state, NO private businessman exploiting anybody, and communities making THEIR OWN choices, NOT being ruled by any higher ups.

    I know private power today uses the state to gain advantages (like the drugs companies for an example). But I know how to make distinctions. Just because private power uses the state for protection, doesn't mean I want all regulations gone. I make distinctions. The housing bubble was caused by deregulation for example.

  47. Neavris says:

    Anarchy is everyone for himself, there's no justice. A free society is a society with laws. Being able to form a company is a good thing. It allows people to come together and achieve projects.
    What you want isn't anarchy, it's communism. Over and over you seem worried about your own personal fantasies.
    I don't think it's because you're young either. I mean some people just get it. They get the ideas of individual freedom and peace.

  48. bootleg42 says:

    You want private power running everything. I want direct democracy. Big difference.

    You NEED the nanny-state to protect your power. Without the state maintaining the monopoly of violence, markets wouldn't exist. You know that if we eliminate the state, the society can organize themselves democratically, and they probably wouldn't allow any businessmen (or any one) to control everything. That's why you fear democracy. You know that if there's democracy, exploiters lose their power.

  49. Neavris says:

    There's the second amendment in the states… There's no monopoly of violence and the liberals hate that. In a free market, people vote their mind with their own money ever day. That creates jobs and fulfill needs.
    Once again I have to make the point that anarchy is not democracy.
    No democracies without a free market have succeeded so far. Not only that but the supreme court itself said in Citizen United vs the FCC that money equals free speech.

  50. bootleg42 says:

    So you're going to tell me that state has no monopoly on violence??? Really??? U.S. military spending is more than the next 10 highest defense budgets in the world combined. No one even comes close to the capacity of the U.S. state in terms of violence. You think some silly 2nd amendment that lets people carry guns trumps the violence the state has control over?!?!? LOL

    And once again, anarchy is democracy because it eliminates the state. You're just afraid of real democracy.

  51. vly703 says:

    Michelle Rhee is a joke!

  52. Neavris says:

    There's no monopoly of violence and the liberals hate that. In a free market, people vote their mind with their own money ever day. That creates jobs and fulfill needs. Politicians truly are afraid of gun owning Americans. At no time in history has it been so easy to kill masses of people using bombs yet so difficult to control a country. Good exemples are Viet-Nam and Afghanistan.

    Anarchy is everyone for himself… It's not democratic or representative in nature.

  53. bootleg42 says:

    LMAO. So you're saying that the current U.S. state (which again outspends the next 10 countries in military spending, and who has military technology far beyond what anyone else has) does not have a monopoly on violence??? LMAO at "libertarian" logic

    And again, you want to see your free market nonsense in action??? Go to Colombia. There the free market rules, everyone BARELY has enough to survive IF they're lucky, everyone is poor and armed and shooting each other, schools don't function, etc.

  54. Neavris says:

    USA could not win in Iraq without the iraquis. Neither the US or russia completely conquered afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world.
    You're not an anarchist, you are a liberal… Go cry me a river.

  55. bootleg42 says:

    LMAO. I'm not a liberal.

    And the reason they couldn't conquer those places completely is because of political reasons, not military. The U.S. fears that it's own population will one day wake up and politically force the U.S. to stop committing their overseas atrocities. Therefore, they can't just go and use their entire force on other populations. Also remember the U.S. has thousands of nuclear bombs.

    The state has a monopoly on violence. Only looney U.S. "libertarians" think other wise.

  56. Neavris says:

    So, the US citizens don't know about the atrocities that their government commit oversea but they shouldn't arm themselves,which they do, because they don't know that the government is stronger than them militarily…
    And… you claim you're not a liberal…
    We've hit the bottom. I'm done.

  57. bootleg42 says:

    Typical U.S. "libertarian" looney logic.

    The government is armed to the teeth, and it has thousands of nuclear weapons that can destroy the world 10 times over. You seriously believe that a few paranoid white people living in suburbs with their collection of rifles is going to deter all that?!?!?!??

    What deters the U.S. government is the potential political pressure it's population FORCES upon it. That's why the U.S. wasn't able to go obliterate Iraq. The U.S. elites fear their own population

  58. C Abraham says:

    Just read wikipidia about Michelle Rhee. 3 years as teacher, c

  59. C Abraham says:

    Michelle Rhee's solution in DC schools…. Close low performing schools and teachers… What we hear from her and read in the media. A good leader does not eliminate available resources. Instead, develops the potential that exists. Children and parents were denied schools available to them. And, teachers were fired. Wouldn't a real leader develop schools, management and teachers. She took a surgical approach. Is that an approach that we would like in life? Wouldn't we rather develop them?

  60. Larry Burke says:

    You ignore that enrollment had decreased yet think anyone should take you seriously?

  61. alexis thomas says:

    what is wrong with being in spetonl ed some kids like me have more changes then then some why cant school,start helping kids AND STOP tellng kids that have disabltid yes u do have chlges and be helpful buy cuting porject or give extur time and or reding test,s so thay dont get sued why not

  62. alexis thomas says:

    and one more thing if u step it up and peace note i am home schools then chard schooled and also in my last year of public school so i dune everything including privet in p k so i get every aspect

  63. bootleg42 says:

    Yeah. Most of these right-wing loons that spam the internet comments sections like crazy are delusional.

  64. Neavris says:

    You forgot unhinged obviously.
    There's nothing wrong with defending the first or second amendments.

  65. BigSwingFace says:

    I never thought I'd see a TED talk I didn't like…

  66. BigSwingFace says:

    Great point. She wanted to treat low performing schools as a cancer in the school system body. But they students and teachers there are suffering; they need to be helped, not cut off.

  67. BigSwingFace says:

    She was terrible at her job. Abysmal. That's why people are bitching. She tried to pretend she was the school system's savior by firing a handful of teachers that were bad; ignoring the fact she had no experience and no qualifications for being a principal, let alone a "chancellor."

  68. BigSwingFace says:

    Are you being intentionally ironic or do you not know the difference between "your" and "you're?" I'm not a teacher; but apparently I had a better education than you.

  69. John Lemieux says:

    Sometimes they have some really good talks, but I am forced to agree with that for the most.

  70. Arjun Dhar says:

    It's a little funny for someone who hasn't completed education, to understand education better than the ex-Chancellor

  71. Arjun Dhar says:

    no offence intended though, I'm sorry if I sounded hostile

  72. Arjun Dhar says:

    Michelle Rhee is a Harvard graduate, so to call her insights "not-so-bright" is a slight misfire

  73. Arjun Dhar says:

    She's explained all her decisions, and they make sense. She's done her best to change the focus of education to the children, and erase the entitlement that many ineffective teachers feel that they have. Eventually, the teaching profession cannot ever be respected unless we hold teachers accountable for the work that they do, because otherwise, you can't give them full credit either. In the long term, increasing the respect of the profession and focusing on children seems excellent actually.

  74. Arjun Dhar says:

    I'm not here to fight with you though, so if you have counterarguments, I would be grateful to hear them, lest I speak my mind and get humiliated at more public a place than YouTube ūüôā

  75. Arjun Dhar says:

    She actually eliminated people who she thought were wasting the resources. She saw good and bad and like you said, she said lets keep the good. As you've seen from the talk, if you keep the bad, all the effort you spend in education causes it to progress in the same proportion of good and bad. So good would double, but so would bad. Therefore, without taking the surgical approach, we would find it difficult to ever escape the confinement of a stagnant system.

  76. Arjun Dhar says:

    She's made one point in a separate presentation that rings very true. If you reward a child for mediocrity, they're never going to have the incentive to fight for themselves in a global setting. In Asia, children are being taught to fight like piranhas. How would American children compete with this?

    Wall St has children too. For the most successful people in the business to support her, it means that they have faith in her and entrust her with their children.

  77. bootleg42 says:

    No. For the most "successful people" to support her means that those "successful people" (Wall St) are pushing an agenda. The agenda in this case is setting the school system up where Wall St sucks as much public money as possible (as usual).

    And not everyone in the US "competes" with Asians. Doctors and Lawyers for example lobby govt hard to gain economic protections from trade deals (which is why overseas doctors can't just practice here). The rich economically protect themselves.

  78. Papa Grab says:

    Oh that's right. The Ivy League turns out all the intellectuals. Bush I and II to name a few. Please!

  79. Papa Grab says:

    I agree. Additionally, the future is about cooperation not competition. If humans are to survive we must learn to work together and create zero growth and sustainable systems. What kills me is when the free market capitalists tout competition when the economic system they promote is really about monopolies and using public funds, such as subsidies to enrich their coffers. Rhee is a complete fraud. Her husband is a big financier who has profited greatly from her push to privatize.

  80. Papa Grab says:

    TED is a pseudo-intellectual haven for wealthy elites to pretend they give a shit. They censor talks that don't coincide with their elitist philosophy. Go to youtube and type in banned-ted-talks-job-creator-myth. .

  81. Jim Capatelli says:

    Michelle Rhee is a shameless liar. She receives over $60.000 for each little speech she gives, lies about being a "Democrat", and made over $12 million dollars for herself last year.

    Rhee then turns around and gives away gobs of money to right-wing hatemongers, and then publicly honors viciously anti-gay legislators, imploring people to vote for these sick miscreants. 

    I don't trust Michelle Rhee. Most people who know anything about her, don't either.

  82. Jim Capatelli says:

    This "data" that Rhee pulls up is garbage. She lies. She does this in order to confuse and deceive her audience. 

    "Students First" has two purposes: 

    1) To help its funders—billionaires who hate anything with the word "public" or "union" in it.

    2) To make Rhee very wealthy. And she's succeeded brilliantly at that. And she's going to need it to because her husband, Sacramento mayor, Kevin Johnson, continues to drain his accounts, paying hush money to the families of teenagers he molested and sexually harassed. 

    How does Rhee get away with this?

  83. Jim Capatelli says:

    Has Rhee told anyone about her involvement with the biggest cheating scandal in the history of American education?

    And has she told you about the massive cover-up and whitewash afterwards?

    Stay tuned. This woman, once the truth comes out, will be shown for the the sociopath she truly is. 

  84. Keith Gray says:

    The only true statement that she made here is that Adrian Fenty elected a woefully under-qualified individual to run a school district.  One term mayor.  Go figure.

    Why would a mayor choose a teacher, with no record of success and experience putting tape on children's mouths and team teaching, as a chancellor of a school district?  I would submit that a better question would be, who stood around and let this happen without protest?

    Her tenure is as a chancellor was marked by controversy, yet she continues to be a point person for the privatization of America's public schools.  

    She is a textbook example of why the public school system in America is in the state that prevails.  She continues to speak about spending money and the real problem in the public school system totally eludes her.  

    This is particularly ironic, because she was consummate example the problem in practice.  She could not control her classroom because of the culture within the school.  I also personally believe that she was drastically under trained for the teaching profession.  

    In conclusion, her presentation skills are sorely lacking.  A superintendent's/chancellor's job should entail a great deal of communication.  Contrary to what is occurring in systems today, there is a desperate need for the communication of a schools goals and aspirations.  Not the random, ready-fire-aim attempts to solve problems that frankly, do not exist.   

  85. India19855 says:

    I disagree with Michelle's declaration about how class size does not affect achievement level.  Clearly, a class of twelve students is much easier to teach and manage than a class of fifty students.  A class size of fifty students would be a nightmare for a public school teacher.  The teacher would have a very difficult time disciplining students brainwashed with the "ghetto" culture and would also hate grading.  The aversion to grading would translate to more "watered down" curriculum  that would make the teacher's job easier yet ultimately lower achievement scores. In a classroom of fifty students, some students would be sitting down on the floor while other students would be sitting on windowsills.  Such students would be distracted easily.  Overcrowded classrooms can have their problems somewhat alleviated by hiring multiple interventionists that reteach students that are further away from the classroom teacher.  Yet more money dumped into the classroom to finance this strategy.  

    There needs to be pilot studies that incorporates Ms. Rhee's strategies, Paulo Freire's strategies, John Dewey's strategies, Martin Haberman's ACP teacher strategies, John Taylor Gatto's strategies, B.F. Skinner's strategies, and Noam Chomsky's strategies in separate classrooms with equal starting levels of financing.  After a set time span, the achievement results of each distinct classroom should be tabulated.

    Another problem with the education system in the United States is that too many public school districts are ignoring the advice and educational research of Colleges of Education from the university settings.  If socio-reconstructionism, behaviorism, progressivism, multiculturalism, medical magnet schools, STEM schools, and service learning were more readily adopted, American schools would fare better. Such adoption would help alleviate the school-to-prison pipeline issues and the massive school dropout rate at the ninth grade level (ninth grade bottleneck).

  86. Jamie Caster says:

    Rhee is a phony and proven fraud. Look into what she really did in D.C. and why she really left. What's wrong with our schools is that politicians and the public listen to people like her for their "facts". No one is advocating for children? Wrong! The teachers are the only ones advocating for children. But no one is listening. Instead they listen to Rhee and her ilk, who pull the wool over the public's eyes. No testing, data, or accountability "fix" is going to improve our schools. It takes a village, and until we improve our village, children and schools will continue to reflect the quality of the village they live in. Stop bashing teachers and let them teach for a change! 

  87. Laura Stahlschmidt says:

    I have two kids in catholic school. Every year they give us a report of each grade levels average standardized test score. Explain why our standardized test scores go down a point or two every time we let a public school child enter my kids grade (we haven't had kids come in every year)?  I will tell you why. When the public school kids enter our catholic school they are almost a year behind because of the No Child Left Behind Act. And I know first hand. Because one of my children went to public for 2 years, then I had enough because I saw what my other child was doing in the catholic school. Its called HOMEWORK! Yes, my kids were a 1 year apart in age. One is bringing home 1 hour or more of reinforcing homework everyday, and the other one never had homework.  I never even seen a textbook. So I asked my daughter's public school teacher why there is no homework to reinforce what they learned that day. And her answer was, "The children do enough during school".  I am 45 years old and she was about 58 years old, and I asked her point blank, "Is that how you learned when you where in grade school? Because I had homework when I was growing up!" And she scowled at me and walked away. 

  88. Charles Scalfani says:

    The first chart in this presentation doesn't adjust for inflation. $2000 in 1960 is about $15,000 in 2015. Therefore, the amount of money we're spending is as flat as the improvements of kids reading and math scores.

  89. Erik Mears says:

    http://provocationsblog.blogspot.com/2015/06/bad-reformer-ideas-merit-pay-grows-on.html

  90. Chris Cobb says:

    Michelle Rhee is the best case scenario next Secretary of Education.

  91. Candor spot says:

    Incredible. She actually managed to say and offer absolutely nothing in over 16 minutes. She found inefficient and wasteful spending but could do nothing about it. Said that the money spent doesn't matter, but then later acknowledges that the problem is a lot of money doesn't actually make it to the classroom.

  92. Major101 says:

    I figured a few Trump researchers will pass through here. I need a better paying job any political research company looking for more paid help. Inbox me. I am just your average joe with access to the internet ūüôā

  93. frank boccuzzi says:

    The only way to fix the American Education System, is to adopt the European model. Simple like that!
    Merit pay does not work, Common Core does not work and so on.
    Why does education work much better in Europe?
    What ever Ms. Rhee is saying is completely irrelevant.

  94. bruce Hur says:

    this bitch michelle rhee is embarrassment for all citizens of korea….

  95. Robert dePaulis says:

    She says smaller class sizes do not matter. Yet, she attended a private school as a child with small class sizes. She left her job running the D.C. schools in disgrace. Mayor Micheal Bloomberg, one of her backers, has destroyed the public education system in N.Y.C.
    These people need to be stopped.

  96. DAT TAPE says:

    Michelle Rhee is the best. Teacher unions destroy children's futures

  97. Candy Delicia says:

    You lost me as soon as you said it was not an issue for groups of interests that have resources and power that basically undermine what our children need in reality.

  98. Furrowed Brow says:

    Definitely misspending.

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