StudentsFirst – Are They Really?

Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst organization.  This article from Fast Company details Rhee’s vision and method of operation.  Rhee makes it sounds as if the choice of education would be delivered back to the parents, but that’s not accurate.  When reading this article remember that all this involvement by private comapnies into our Education system is for THEIR profit, not the children’s.

A different set of laws and regulations written by private corporations, organizations and lawmakers will replace those now in place.  It’s one set of power brokers taking over another set of power brokers with the taxpayer/parent looking on from the outside.

StudentsFirst, a private organization, is attempting to determine and drive legislation that it believes is “best for children” in Missouri and other states. 

A one-size fits all educational system, whether it be teacher tenure, charters, standards, assessments…should be implemented in all states.  Think of it as a centralized, national plan for children, taxpayers and local school districts.  It’s not “choice”.  It’s an identical plan for every child, every taxpayer, every teacher/administrator in every state. 

Taxpayers are funding these decisions made by lobbying groups and implemented by state legislators.  The lobbyists are determining through legislative process how educational decisions should be made and how education is delivered with taxpayer funding.

When children are viewed as human capital and the main purpose of education is to provide human capital for a successful global economy, it would make sense that the Missouri State Director from StudentsFirst who isn’t from Missouri, doesn’t live in Missouri or even works in Missouri can make statements that she knows what Missouri students, parents, teachers and administrators need. 

When you have a centralized system, individualistic and regional differences don’t exist. Cogs in the system must be the same and treated as such. Lea Crusey, Missouri State Director of StudentsFirst – Who is Lea Crusey?  From LinkedIn:

Lea Crusey:   Education reform advocate

• Legislative advocate for education reform, including measures to enhance the prestige and quality of teacher training and education through performance measurement, quality public school choices, and sound fiscal accountability that prioritizes student achievement

• Extensive project and team management experience, interfacing with public and private sector partners and leading initiatives to deliver operational efficiencies in initiatives related to urban planning and transportation development.


-Legislative advocacy -Project and client management -Financial Management

-Data analysis -Non-profit fundraising and development


State Director  StudentsFirst  April 2011 – Present (1 year 5 months)

Director- Financial Operations :  LAZ Parking  November 2009 – April 2011 (1 year 6 months)

Responsible for all financial operations for privatized metered parking asset, managing team of 8.

President, KIPP Ascend Associate Board:  KIPP Ascend Charter School   July 2009 – April 2011 (1 year 10 months)

 Chicago Transit Authority:   Transportation/Trucking/Railroad industry  January 2009 – November 2009 (11 months)  Product Manager, Smart Cards

Chicago Transit Authority:  November 07 – January 2009 (1 year 3 months)   Highlights include:

-Implemented pilot program to combine Chicago Public Schools student ID with CTA smart cards, which at full capacity will increase market penetration of smart cards by 100k and reduce Authority costs by $500k.

Graduate Policy Fellow  Sovereign Wealth Fund Samruk-Kazyna  2007 – 2007 (less than a year)

University of Chicago:  October 2006 – July 2007 (10 months) Developed innovative editing tool to communicate with manuscript author.

IMI Indoor Climate  2006 – 2006 (less than a year)  Developed Business Continuity Plan for China headquarters, reporting directly to VP of Asia-Pacific.

Dimensions Education Group  2005 – 2006 (1 year)  Policy Consultant

The Turner Corporation  2005 – 2005 (less than a year)  Contracted to research and update corporate-wide Affirmative Action program to comply with Federal EEO requirements; trained managers from all domestic business units upon project completion. Reported directly to EVP of Human Resources and Benefits.

Teach for America:    Corps Member   Education Management industry June 2003 – June 2005 (2 years 1 month)

• Served as member of national service corps of outstanding college graduates who commit two years to teach in under-resourced public schools

• Instructed students in grade levels 4-8; 350 students in 2 years

• Developed and lead staff development modules to faculty and coordinated school-wide social studies professional growth opportunities

Edison McNair Academy:  2003 – 2005 (2 years)  Intern

Glass, Lewis & Co.:  Financial Services industry  2004 – 2004 (less than a year)

Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA):  2002 – 2002 (less than a year)

Tennis instructor  Silver Bay Association YMCA:  2000 – 2000 (less than a year)

Education:  University of Chicago MPP, Public Policy (Urban Development) 2006 – 2008

I wonder if she studied Alinsky while she was there!

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