Who’s First?

Tomorrow night Frontline, the PBS investigative series, will present an hour-long show about Michelle Rhee’s relatively short time as the head of the DC school system. I will record the program and watch it later so I have the option of rewinding the parts I couldn’t hear the first time while yelling at the TV.

However, I could probably skip the whole thing since Charlie Pierce, writing in Esquire’s Politics Blog, offers this very succinct and totally accurate summary of Rhee’s accomplishments.

Rhee’s entire (and very lucrative) career as a proponent of educational “reform” is based on her time as chancellor of the public schools in Washington, D.C. Between 2007 and 2010, she did everything that sends a thrill up the leg of the “reform” community. She bashed teachers, scapegoated principals, and shined up her own armor for public consumption every chance she got. She also instituted a system of standardized testing by which Michelle Rhee would be able to judge the awesome awesomeness of Michelle Rhee.

Her organization is called Student’s First but, as others have pointed out, it’s goals are more about putting Rhee ahead of anyone else.

And while I’m quoting Charlie Pierce, one of the best observational writers around, his opening sentence about the education reform industry is far too accurate.

One problem with the education “reform” industry is not merely that it generally looks at “education” as though it were a commodity, like soybeans, and that the problems with how we educate a great many children of our fellow citizens can be solved if we just refine the delivery systems for the product.

It’s All Good

There really are only two categories of music that matter. There’s good and there’s bad. Everything else is just indexing. Same thing applies to books, movies, curry,… chicken love.* — Hugh Laurie

If you only know Hugh Laurie from his TV role as the wonderfully anti-social Gregory House, spend an hour watching him perform traditional New Orleans blues in this PBS special.

Watch the full episode. See more Great Performances.

Laurie will never be mistaken for one of the greats of the genre, but it’s clear this Englishman understands and loves this very American music. He also gives a very credible, approachable, and most importantly, entertaining performance, especially when at the piano.

And next in my DVR queue is another example of a very American musical performance: Weird Al Yankovic in concert.

Very different genres, very different styles. But it’s all good.

*You’ll have to watch the program to understand that last item.