As Newsweek?s latest cover story details, former Washington, D.C., public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee plans to champion school reform efforts from a national perspective.

You might be surprised to learn ? especially if you?re a frequent reader of Newsweek?s Jonathan Alter ? that the crux of Rhee?s message does not involve bashing of teachers? unions:

The teachers? unions get the blame for much of this. Elected officials, parents, and administrators implore them to ?embrace change? and ?accept reform.? But I don?t think the unions can or should change. The purpose of the teachers? union is to protect the privileges, priorities, and pay of their members. And they?re doing a great job of that.

What that means is that the reform community has to exert influence as well. That?s why I?ve decided to start StudentsFirst, a national movement to transform public education in our country. We need a new voice to change the balance of power in public education. Our mission is to defend and promote the interests of children so that America has the best education system in the world.

From the moment I resigned, I began hearing from citizens from across this country. I got e-mails, calls, and letters from parents, students, and teachers who said, ?Don?t give up. We need you to keep fighting!? Usually, they?d then share with me a story about how the education system in their community was not giving students what they need or deserve. I got one e-mail from two people who have been trying to open a charter school in Florida and have been stopped every step of the way by the school district. No voices have moved me more than those of teachers. So many great teachers in this country are frustrated with the schools they are working in, the bureaucratic rules that bind them, and the hostility to excellence that pervades our education system.

The common thread in all of these communications was that these courageous people felt alone in battling the bureaucracy. They want help and advocates. There are enough people out there who understand and believe that kids deserve better, but until now, there has been no organization for them. We?ll ask people across the country to join StudentsFirst?we?re hoping to sign up 1 million members and raise $1 billion in our first year.