Here’s an insightful new post by Diane Ravitch on the lessons to be learned from the fall of Mayor Fenty and School Chancellor Michelle Rhee in D.C. “Why Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty Lost.”

A striking element of the statistical fallout of the ousting of Mayor Fenty is the wide gap in support between African-American and white D.C. residents for Michelle ‘Machete’ Rhee’s brand of ed reform.

The majority of D.C.’s black voters gave Rhee and Fenty (who hired her) the boot. The majority of white voters supported them.

According to Ravitch, only about 5 percent of kids in D.C.’s public schools are white. (This article claims the number has risen to 9 percent.) The majority of kids in D.C.’s public schools, who are on the receiving end of Rhee’s impetuous “reforms” — summary axing of their teachers, closing down of their schools, budgetary shell-games  — are African American (about 76 percent) or Latino (13 percent).

What does it mean when a minority with no immediate connection to the public schools gives the thumbs up to such punitive practices that are primarily being inflicted on other people’s children?

I find this very troubling. If I am misreading this, I invite readers to add their comments and corrections to this picture.

I think the ed reformers and their supporters, in their quest to couch their agenda in terms pilfered from the Civil Rights movement — “education revolution,” “movement” —  are potentially sending a very dangerous message in D.C.: punitive measures and constant upheaval is okay, or even necessary, for kids of color and their schools.

I’m wondering how many white voters in D.C. would give Rhee their support if it were their kids being treated this way.

Who was the last presidential child to attend public school in D.C.?  I believe it was Amy Carter. That was 40 years ago. Obviously there are security concerns for a president’s child who attends a public school, but the fact is that those directing education policy in America right now do not have a vested connection to the schools they are so willing to toy with and, in some cases, destroy. There is also a certain degree of hypocrisy coming from the latest brand of ed reformers concerning what constitutes a good education.

Rhee does send her two children to public school — it would be politically impossible for her not to. But I find it troubling that President Obama champions and enables a brand of ed reform whose executioners  (like Rhee) tell us parents that “class size doesn’t matter” — an “excellent” teacher can transcend all obstacles, therefore it’s entirely the teachers’ fault if kids are struggling in school, and they must be publicly humiliated if their students don’t perform well on tests — or that it’s okay to summarily close down schools and demolish school communities, fire principals without proven cause, and submit kids to endless regimens of mind-numbing standardized testing, and abrogate our nation’s civic duty to provide a good free education for all by shuffling  kids off to be educated by unaccountable private charter schools franchises, all while his own children are safely ensconced in the $31,000/year Sidwell Friends School where classes sizes average 14-16 kids, the curriculum is rich and inspiring, and includes languages, music, art, P.E., and teachers “use narrative reports and/or letter grades to evaluate student progress.” No mention of standardized tests.

Why don’t the ed reformers support this vision of learning for everyone else’s kids too?

— sue p.

Why Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty Lost