MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (WXYZ) - Michelle Rhee,a former Washington, D.C. schools superintendent and current StudentsFirst CEO sat down with 7 Action News anchor Jeff Vaughn just before her keynote address to the Mackinac Policy Conference.
Her message: fix the education system.
"We can't have a system and society where we are teaching kids to celebrate mediocrity", says Rhee.
"I think that we have a problem in America right now, because we spend so much time to try and make students feel good, that we have lost sight to make them good."
StudentsFirst is an education partner in 18 states, including Michigan.
"A couple of things we are focusing on here in Michigan are things like performance pay for teachers".
Performance pay and an A to F report card for students led to higher test scores in D.C.
Rhee says it can work in Detroit too, and will bring jobs to Detroit.
"If you want a world class city, you have to have a first rate education system to attract Fortune 500 companies"
Rhee is not without controversy. Although the 47,000 students test scores increased, marking a turnaround of one of the worst performing schools in the nation, there was an investigation on why many of the wrong answers were erased and made correct, possibly by staff. Rhee laid off teachers and resigned after a change of mayors.
But she's applauded for holding teachers accountable, fighting teacher's unions, fighting for students, and making education important.
"Education has to be the number 1 priority of policymakers in this nation and particularly Michigan".