Randi V. Rhee

Hard-hitting Newsweek piece on Weingarten and Rhee.  What’s the over-under on how many weeks/months/years this adds on to the contract negotiations in DC?

15 Replies to “Randi V. Rhee”

  1. I don’t know, seems like another personality-driven story to me (as if we needed more of those in education).

    In answer to your question, though, I’d peg the over/under at two extra weeks. That should be enough time for everyone to posture for a while and then forget this article ever existed.

  2. Evan Thomas’s story brings to mind the view of Claud Cockburn:
    Claud proclaimed that facts and rumours were of equal significance, and warned against what he called ‘the factual heresy’ – the claim, dear to journalists with a saint-like idea of their own mission, that lumps of truth lie about like gold nuggets waiting to be picked up. He did not think journalism was either saintly or fact-bound. ‘All stories are written backwards,’ he once observed. ‘They are supposed to begin with the facts and develop from there, but in reality they begin with a journalist’s point of view from which the facts are subsequently organised.’

    Rhee makes up her “Baltimore Miracle” and resume-no problem
    Central Falls is not the worst school in the state-no problem
    teachers should be fired at will with no due process- no problem
    Rhee makes up test scores- no problem

    And we get weasel words from Evan “seems” “appears” …

  3. I think those who consider themselves reformers–especially those who take a “tough love” approach–are going to have to start considering more carefully the impact of their words and deeds. I used to be a high school teacher and my spouse is a high school teacher, so I know lots of teachers. I’ve never seen them so demoralized. They’re now entirely cynical about sticks AND carrots. They try to keep focused on their students but the Rhees and the Rhode Islands and the RTTTs and the Newsweek stories make it difficult. I hear teachers say things like “Encourage my best students to become teachers? Are you kidding me?”

    I read lots of what policy-makers and politicians and journalists say and what I usually see is a few happy-talk comments about the value of teachers followed by mountains of negative comments (although many are carefully crafted so they can’t be called out for teacher-bashing).

    Some say teachers are overly sensitive, but I think the attacks have reached a new level. It’s hard for me to see how this is a positive development.

  4. Are teachers as a whole being attacked, or are the bad ones being rightfully criticized? If teachers don’t want to encourage their students to become teachers, it’s only because there’s actually an objective definition of accountability in how they will perform.

    It’s tough to create results, but if results are being fairly rewarded, that’s life. Teachers can go ahead and encourage their students to enter into any other high-paying job out there, but they better make sure their students know they’ll be working their asses off to avoid getting canned there, too.

  5. Are teachers as a whole being attacked, or are the bad ones being rightfully criticized?

    When it comes from Michelle Rhee one can never tell.
    One day it is many, the next day a few.

  6. Chris, that’s actually my point. My impression is that teachers have moved from believing it’s the bad ones who are being criticized to believing it’s open season on teachers as a whole. I’m suggesting that’s a problem for the future of teaching and that those who want to improve education ought to be concerned instead of just saying “get over it.”

  7. I agree August, but the message itself from most reformers– before being warped by politics– is that bad teachers have got to shape up or get out. And due to that, I find it hard to blame the reformers when this message is badly interpreted as some asinine attack on the entire field of education. I don’t see anything defensible about teachers who can’t understand the difference between accountability and “reformers hate education!1!”

  8. Diane Ravitch’s take:
    Dear Jay,

    I loved almost everything about your column, but I didn’t love the headline. There is not much to like about NCLB. I tried to demonstrate in the book that the law failed. Its goal was utopian and caused many good schools to be unfairly labeled failing. The law introduced a punitive approach to schooling that continues to damage schools and teachers. I concluded that the NCLB remedies didn’t work, the sanctions didn’t work, and there were few or no test-score gains after seven years of test-test-test. On balance, I think the law did more harm than good. I would like to see Congress go back to the drawing boards and stop stigmatizing schools and teachers who in most cases are working as hard as they know how. I think it is sad that the Obama administration has built its approach to “reform” on this poor foundation.

    Diane Ravitch


    Thank you for the good words, Steve. Many friends are teachers and I know how disheartening they find all the teacher bashing.

    Be sure to write my publisher and get a review copy of my new book.


  9. Chris, I believe that we’re responsible (to a point anyway) for even the unintended consequences of our words and actions. Reformers can say, “we don’t mean to tar all teachers with the same brush,” but if that’s the way it’s being interpreted, it might be worth taking a look at things. My sample is admittedly small and my data anecdotal, but I’m seeing smart, dedicated teachers who are coming to think that if you teach in an urban school, you’re guilty until proven innocent.

  10. Another bit from Ms. Ravitch:
    My book appeared at a time when there was only one narrative about school reform, which privileged the views of businessmen, lawyers, politicians, foundation executives, and government officials who are imposing their ideas without regard to the wisdom and experience of those who must implement them.

  11. Then you’re blaming a camp for a message that they’ve never stated nor endorsed. In politics, when candidate A spins candidate B’s words into something negative and false, I don’t then blame candidate #2 for this cleverly contrived message if I know that’s not what he stands for. Why would anyone do so?

  12. The problem isn’t just that Newsweek claims to have hired and education reporter, but without investing in editing. The problem is that “reformers” keep feeding those gullible transcribers inaccurate information.

    For instance, Newsweek continues to present inaccurate info on the Toldeo Plan, even after the New Teacher Project “reconciled” its inaccuracasies. The TNTP has admitted that their numbers are off by 200% to 530%, but apparently they are still using them for spin.

    Contrary to the TNTP’s polemic, nine rookie teachers in Toledo, or 9.2% of novices, “nonrenewed or resigned” after the 2007-08 school year. In the Rochester PAR program 7% of the new teachers exited, as did 9.7% in Syracuse, while 10.5% of novices resigned in Montgomery County or had their peer review process extended for another year.

    The TNTP spoonfed polemic to New Yorker was just as inaccurate regarding Value Added models. (And if Grier really thought his statement on VAMs was the same Weingarten, there’s and even bigger problem with a lack of connection to realitiy.)

    then there was the original TNTP misrepresentations on the “Rubber Room.”

    I could go on but that’s just a quick list of Newsweek’s new inaccuracies.

  13. I find it disgusting that after ten years of hand waving and neo-conservative cant, nobody has reliable estimates of teacher knowledge based on research. Yet they will virtually all hazard a guess. Calling it an “educated guess” is rapidly becoming less likely.

    Teacher effectiveness is a separate issue that is pounded into the ground each and every day. It should be the lesser of the two issues for various reasons but is conflated by literally everyone.

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