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Our movement to transform education begins today

December 06, 2010

The movement to transform public education in America begins with you.

Until today, StudentsFirst was just an idea. Michelle Rhee, the former Chancellor of D.C.’s public schools, knew that all schools had the potential to perform. From her early days as a Teach for America educator to the test score gains during her Washington, D.C. tenure, she was a staunch believer that all students can succeed in the right enviornment. Too often, however, she saw vested interest groups and senseless bureaucratic structures stand in the way, sometimes without even realizing it. Put simply: The needs of adults were outweighing the needs of children, with heartbreaking results over time.

Generations of kids in many low-income schools are consigned to poor quality education. Even our so-called “Top Schools” in suburbia are lagging behind similar schools internationally. And the only way to put this right is to to band together, shine a light on what’s not working, and attack the problem head-on.

So, after a few thousand meetings, emails, phone calls, and Tweets with other parents, teachers, school administrators, grassroots organizers, reformers, and academics, Michelle’s vision become a mission.

Soon a close circle of volunteers began working nights after their day jobs to help build this website, nail down a name (there were a lot of ideas floating around, ranging from Kids Need Better to the Great American Schools Movement), draft a mission statement, and design some T-shirts and bumper stickers. Michelle’s brother is chipping in as legal counsel to help us with the paperwork.

If you’re wondering where our central headquarters is located, you’re looking at it. StudentsFirst is everywhere our members are. We have a team of education experts working with us, of course, and they’re using their experience from classrooms and boardrooms to help us strategize, set concrete targets, collect data, find partners, and hone in on the states and districts that need reform most urgently. And we’ve got a handful of employees in Washington, D.C. But we look to you, as a member, to drive the movement forward.

For now, our core objective is to build our membership base: our power will come from our numbers. That’s why we need you to tell your friends, family, coworkers, teachers, and everyone else to join us in our effort to make kids, not special interests, top priority in education policy. Add us to your blog roll, “Like” us on Facebook, and “Follow” us on Twitter. And start or join a group of StudentsFirst supporters in your community (our online tools make it easy to plan meetings, events, reading groups, and other activities). Soon, we’ll get you the tools you need to help fight the special interest groups and bureaucracy that challenge our kids’ bright futures.

In the meantime, come back to the blog for news, opinions, tips, videos, and more. You’ll see a lot more in the coming weeks as we shine a spotlight on the quiet retreat of America’s education supremacy and recommend how you can be part of the fix. The blog will also feature posts from Michelle and others working on the front lines of the reform movement. To ask questions, or offer ideas about events or issues that you’d like to see discussed on the blog, click here.