by Michelle Rhee
Ms. Rhee is, how shall I say, a fairly controversial figure. She is a former Chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools and, among other things, is currently the founder and CEO of StudentsFirst, a political advocacy organization for education reform. In her first year, Ms. Rhee fired 98 central office staffers, 36 principals and 22 assistant principals and was responsible for I don't know how many teacher firings and resignations due to her self-described radical techniques. Her book's title, RADICAL, is hardly rhetorical excess.
You might ask what any of this-radical or otherwise-educational stuff has to do with healthcare generally and with eldercare specifically. We believe that Ms. Rhees' revolutionary approach to redraw the educational system in this country is exactly what we need in healthcare generally and eldercare specifically. If, as 4OurElders believes, "the state of eldercare in this country is a threat to our national integrity" (a view that stems from another education czar's view of education in this country, Joel Klein who called the state of education in this country "a threat to our national security") then nothing short of a revolution driven by radical ideas and actions will be effective in transforming eldercare into what it should and must be.
A look at Ms. Rhees' chapter headings tell why what she has to say about education has everything to do with healthcare and eldercare-Breaking Barriers, Students First, Honoring Teachers, Empowering Parents and Challenging Politicians are just a few. To bring needed change to health and eldercare we must break barriers and challenge politicians till it hurts everyone who is part of the problem. We MUST put Patients and Families first, we must honor healthcare workers who care for us and our elders, and we must empower those patients and families. Reading Ms. Rhees' book cannot help but focus the reader who really "gets it" that her radical and revolutionary approach in education is no less necessary in health and eldercare. Let's pick up the mantle in this all too important part of our society and push the "good fight" till victory is ours. As Ms Rhees says: "America is the greatest nation in the world. We should have the greatest education system in the world to match." Well, for sure, we should have the greatest healthcare as well and by any measure this self-proclaimed "greatest country" isn't even close to having the best healthcare for our citizens, particularly the older ones. "Do you hear the people sing…?"