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The Most Controversial Woman in School Reform

Over the past few years, Campbell Brown has transformed herself from a TV journalist to a hero reformer for the teacher-tenure-busting crowd, a spinoff of the charter-school-and-make-education-a-business crowd. We’re a couple of years past peak charter, when Waiting for “Superman” enraptured well-heeled do-gooders, Obama’s ­Education secretary dissed teachers unions, and school reformer and D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee surpassed even Harlem Children’s Zone guru Geoffrey Canada as a neoliberal education legend. This past summer, Rhee stepped down from a nonprofit backed by the Bloomberg ­Foundation that had hoped to raise $1 billion, and a number of recent studies have shown mixed results for charters, which do not, generally speaking, outperform traditional public schools (though, as reformers point out, some especially good ones could be important laboratories). These days, the energy in reform is with those who are ­taking the fight to the courts. Mayors, ­chancellors, and the rest of the Albany Establishment are too entangled in political interests to make change, the activists claim, and education reform’s best chance is to bring lawsuits to challenge teacher tenure as unconstitutional.

Brown is their unlikely public face.