Rhee-Visiting DC Cheating

Three notes on the Michelle Rhee – DCPS cheating issue that is again front and center after today’s NYT column by Michael Winerip:

  1. It still seems to me that it’s pretty clear some cheating went on in D.C.  But I’d be surprised if Rhee even tacitly knew about it.  And it’s worth noting that the National Assessment of Educational Progress – a test that’s hard to cheat – shows gains in D.C.
  2. Rhee’s in a tough spot here. She’s the former chancellor, which means a policy of not commenting on an ongoing investigation in the city’s schools is a reasonable one.  No one wants their predecessor splashing around in a situation like this or talking with the media.  And if she were doing that you could write a column about how inappropriate that is.  But, this is exactly why Rhee’s initial instinct to comment as well as the substance of her remarks were ill-considered and created the box she’s in.  Still, at this point she should stay quiet until the ongoing investigation is done and cooperate with it.
  3. In general, and in this case, cheating investigations are really messy and generally turn on confessions or corroborated accusations.

My take on the larger cheating issues here.

6 Replies to “Rhee-Visiting DC Cheating”

  1. My, my, the prima donna doesn’t like it when reporters don’t follow the script.
    For many years she got away with the Baltimore Miracle because she knew reporters and people like Gates and Evan Thomas love such amazing stories and won’t bother to follow up with the facts.
    So now she freezes out USA Today, like she froze out Bill Turque of The Washington Post.
    After all, it’s not like they are asking if it was infidelity on her part that broke up her marriage to Kevin Huffman.

  2. A Brilliant take that everyone’s talking about:

    MONDAY, AUGUST 22, 2011
    Winerip pounds at a plutocrat hero/Or, Rhee finally clams: Back-to-school fever is all around! In honor of same, let’s heap major praise today on the New York Times’ Michael Winerip.

    At the nation’s biggest news organs, Paul Krugman has long been Most Valuable Player—although to our taste, he’s starting to get a wee bit partisanized. (We think that would be a bad thing for progressive interests.)

    It’s hard to learn much from those biggest news organs. For our money, Winerip gives you your second best chance after Krugman. This morning, he pounds away at a plutocrat hero in an instructive manner.

    The hero in question is Michelle Rhee, queen of “educational reform.” We’ll suggest you read Winerip’s piece for yourselves (just click here). It covers a bit of new ground about Rhee—and Winerip’s editor has even included a highly unflattering photo!

    Winerip could have piled on harder. He doesn’t even mention the highly improbable claims Rhee has made, down through the years, about her own brilliant success as a wonderfully brilliant miraculous teacher. As always, we’d bet half the house that her claims don’t even come close to being true. But she never should have made such claims absent the actual data.

    It’s hard to express sufficient contempt for people who build lucrative public careers on the backs of the low-income children whose interests they claim to serve. But here’s the point that popped in our heads as we read Winerip’s profile:

    Rhee was enabled every step of the way by this society’s swells. The people paid to pose as “educational experts” never said that those self-serving claims were extremely unlikely. (Potemkin experts don’t do that!) The Gotham swells who pose as reformers were probably too dumb to realize.

    When Rhee showed up in DC as the mayor’s nominee, the Washington Post averted its gaze from the problems that were emerging with her self-glorying claims. But then, after stamping its foot a bit, so did the DC Council.

    In his piece, Winerip mentions the interview Rhee did with Tavis Smiley last spring. He doesn’t mention the way Smiley bowed, scraped, pandered and fawned to Rhee in his quest to lick the boots of celebrity, wealth, fame and power.

    We think Winerip’s profile hits home, as his work quite often does. As back-to-school fever builds in your town, we’ll strongly suggest that you read it.


  3. Is the NAEP defense holding up in Atlanta? That’s a place that’s shown progressive increases on NAEP over the past decade…

  4. Ultimately, we must be reminded that the standardized tests are a terrible metric for judging success, and this should be one final nail in the coffin for anyone that chooses to utilize tests as a reliable measure for success in public education. But here’s what I say: let them cheat. Public schools have been so starved of resources over so many decades, are still dealing with rampant segregation and inequality. Let them cheat their heads off for all I care, it serves the tests, and those who serve them, right.

  5. “Public schools have been so starved of resources over so many decades, are still dealing with rampant segregation and inequality.”

    There it is, the status quo. And placing minority children in test prep academies isn’t going to change it.

    For years, teachers and other child advocates have been advocating for equity in education and that includes critical out-of-school experiences. Now that the press is beginning to see things as they are, I’m hoping we’ll see real change soon.

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