Morning Joe | January 07, 2013
>>> first michelle rhee . out with this year's state policy report card which evaluates the education laws in each 50 states . also the uauthor of "radical." michelle, you graded the schools. who got the highest grades in the states ? what states got the highest grades, which states got the lowest grades?
>> well, this is a report card that looks at the policies and laws in each state that govern how schools are able to function. and we very, very strongly believe that students first there is no shortage of great educators who are out there. we know that every kid can learn regardless of what obstacles they face, if they're in a good school environment. the bottom line is that they're forced to operate in this incredibly bureaucratic environment that is driven by these antiquated laws and policies. what we decided to do is look at these policies across all 50 states and the district of columbia and rate them based on whether or not they're students center.
>> you're looking at the states that turn their back on these antiquated policies that have been crippling public education for years now. what states did the best?
>> so, if you look at states like louisiana , florida, indiana that have had tremendous movement towards education reform over the last two to three years, you can see that those rates, those states are rating most highly.
>> at the top, louisiana is a fascinating story. even democrats saw katrina as an opportunity to go in and clean up a dysfunctional school system . that's exactly what's happened, right?
>> that's absolutely right. after katrina, a number of different policies were put in place to really give the community the opportunity to reinvent their schools and reenvision what was possible.
>> and they have.
>> they absolutely have.
>> talk about radical. the radical transformation in new orleans .
>> that's right. parents now have incredible choices in new orleans amongst high quality options for their kids and this is all families, not just certain families in certain neighborhoods. now the state has gone even a step further. last year governor jindal and the legislature put in place a number of really aggressive strategies to make sure that every kid has a highly effective teacher.
>> so, in new orleans you don't have to be rich to be able to choose the highest performing school to choose to send your child?
>> that is one of our policy pillars. that every family should have, should be empowered to send their child to a high-performing school and every child should have high quality school options.
>> you don't have to be rich to have a good education for your kids.
>> so, the president has been a champion of reform that you see from you, jeb bush and others. what would you like to see him do now in this term? what would you like to see him talk about in the state of the union as a role for the federal government and some of these reforms?
>> i think one of the things that is most important to talk about right now is on the fiscal side of things. every state knows that there is not a money tree that states and schools are not going to be getting more money. so, the question is how do we take the resources and the taxpay taxpayer dollars that we have and use them more wisely. one thing we would like to see happen is a tying of the federal funds that are given out through title one and title two programs to innovation, just like he has done through race to the top .
>> michelle, i'm looking at your report cards here in the state . you are a tough grader. joe pointed out louisiana is at the top with a b minus. 90% of the states , i believe, are in less than a c grade. so, what do you need to get above a b minus? what has to happen for a state to get up in the a range?
>> three areas we focus on. first, making sure every teacher has a highly effective teacher in their classroom. the second is giving parents, empowering parents with choices in their quality education for their child. and the third is governing well and using taxpayer dollars effectively. there are 24 different policies in each of these three areas. so, we really do through this report card provide a road map for legislatures across the country that want to create the right environment for their schools and educators to operate in. to say, okay, if we want to improve and start moving in the right direction. here are the policies that we need to undertake. common sense things. how do we change the pension system so that teachers have more portable pensions. and they have more choices in their pension system . we pick things like, you know, making sure that in a time of layoffs, teachers are laid off by quality, instead of by straight seniority. these are really common sense policies that any person on the street can understand.
>> what is so fascinating, d.c., your old stomping grounds and rhode island . both in the top five. you expect those states , certainly would expect rhode island to be the top in reform. i will ask you about that in a second. look at these f grades. north dakota , west virginia , nebraska, montana, wyoming. these are all plain states .
>> plain states not doing that well.
>> these are all red states . why are they doing so poorly?
>> well, a lot of the states that are at the bottom of the report card are states that are big into local control. let's give it, each local jurisdiction control. we think that there has to be a healthy mix between the state saying, here's what is necessary to ensure that every child in our state has a high-quality education and seeking a balance between that --
>> so, are these red states , north dakota , west virginia , nebraska, montana, wyoming, are they anti-reform? antieducation reform for the most part?
>> i think less that they're anti-reform and so much, more that they are sort of so focused on giving the local school boards control. what we know after decades of local school board control is that local school boards often make early, silly decisions.
>> i'll say dumb, you don't have to. finally a, i'm fascinated by rhode island . rhode island actually, highest unemployed in america has been seen, again, very reactionary, clinging to old policies.
>> union dominated.
>> union dominated. yet, rhode island , i think they have a treasurer that made some traumatic cuts in long-term pensions. and you've got them in the top five on education reform . what is going on there?
>> rhode island made some incredibly aggressive changes on their policies. a state superintendent there. deborah who has been very, very aggressive on reform, as well.
>> isn't she a democrat?
>> she is. she actually came from d.c. a number of things that are going right in that state that we think, really, are going to change the trajectory of rhode island .
>> which back when "radical" comes out.
>> absolutely will.
>> thank you so much, michelle rhee .
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