Archives for category: Michelle Rhee

USA Today was first to report the cheating scandal in the District of Columbia.

Here is the follow-up story by Gregg Toppo, about the memo first leaked to John Merrow.

Eventually, the allegations were investigated by the DC Inspector General, who decided not to look at the erasure analysis or to interview many people. It was not the kind of full-scale investigation carried out in Atlanta by professionals. The DC Inspector General decided the cheating, if it happened, was not widespread.

This was confirmed by the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Education.

But suspicions lingered, as did the cloud over the district, and the cloud refused to go away.

Matthew Di Carlo dissects the latest effort by Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst to sell the idea that evaluating teachers by test scores is accurate, unbiased, and necessary.

Di Carlo analyzes the “myths” and discovers that some of them are facts.

This is embarrassing. Rhee really needs to hire a competent research department.


In this brilliant essay, John Prosser dissects Michelle Rhee’s attack on the teachers of Garfield High School in Seattle.

The teachers decided unanimously to boycott the MAP test for their students.

On March 6, Rhee wrote (or someone in her organization wrote) an opinion piece in a Seattle newspaper making false claims about the teachers and what they were doing and why they were doing it.

She first refers to them as “union members,” not as teachers, immediately suggesting that they are acting from selfish motives, to do something that their union wants, rather than acting as teachers, in the best interest of their students.

She claims that the teachers don’t want to give the test because they don’t want to be evaluated, but the tests don’t figure into their evaluation.

As Prosser shows, she engages in ad hominem attacks; she makes factual errors; she equivocates; she misleads; she uses the straw man argument and the red herring. Her article demonstrates how little she knows, how quick she is to attack teachers while pretending to praise them, and how little respect she has for teachers and students.

As the leader of a group called “StudentsFirst,” Rhee evidently thinks that what students need most is more testing. She thinks that she cares about students more than those who work with them every day in their classrooms. She, who pours millions of dollars into political campaigns for vouchers, charters, teacher-bashing, and high-stakes testing, has some nerve attacking the dedicated teachers of Garfield High School.

The teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle are our heroes. They have true courage. They truly put their students first.

Michelle Rhee will be speaking at New York City’s Cornell Club, to promote her new book “Radical”, on Tuesday Feb. 5, 2013 at 6 PM. (6 East 44th St (between 5th and Madison, map here.) ,

New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, Class Size Matters and other pro-public education parents and advocates will be there to protest Rhee’s destructive policies and proposals, including her push to eliminate ANY caps on class size. More on how Rhee wants to undermine and privatize our public schools, see the parent Rhee-port card here.

For more information about the rally by pro-education advocates, email .

Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler is a watchdog of American journalism.

He regularly criticizes the media, and is especially good when he looks at education. He recently dissected the misleading and overly negative coverage of international tests.

In the past few days, he has been on a roll. He was incensed by the Washington Post‘s fawning coverage of our greatest “education celebrity.” Over the past weekend, trying to immunize Rhee from the renewed uproar about cheating, The Washington Post ran a long article about Rhee’s celebrity, an editorial defending her, and an opinion piece by her admiring biographer.

Here are a few choice comments by Somerby: “A true journalistic disgrace: Over the weekend, the Washington Post was at it again. It was doing the thing the Post does best. The Washington Post was peddling Rhee. This newspaper simply won’t stop.”

And this: “…she’s the dream girl of the world’s billionaires—and the Washington Post won’t stop peddling.”

Read The Daily Howler pieces here, here and here.

A word about the Washington Post. It continues to run Valerie Strauss’s invaluable blog, which has provided a voice and a platform for critics of corporate reform, including critics of Rhee. And an editor there invited me to review Richard Whitmire’s biography of Rhee. That said, the newspaper’s editorial board has been Rhee’s most unflinching defender and whatever she does and says.


John Merrow is still trying to get to the bottom of the DC cheating scandal.

During his investigation, he discovered that Michelle Rhee hired a data coach who lives in California to advise her at $85 an hour or $1500 a day when he visited DC. This data expert reported to Rhee’s assessment director.

Merrow heard from confidential sources that the data expert had written a four-page memo expressing his concerns about possible cheating. Merrow spent months trying to track down the memo. He knows that it exists but no one will let him see it. Rhee’s former assessment director won’t answer Merrow’s many calls.

What is in the memo? No one will say and Merrow can’t get his hands on it. But he makes the reasonable assumption that if the memo said “don’t worry, all is well,” the memo would be promptly released. It seems reasonable that someone has something to hide.

Note that Rhee is represented in this matter by a prominent criminal attorney in Washington, D.C.


In the Frontline documentary, John Merrow confronted Michelle Rhee with statistics from certain schools showing dramatic increases in test scores followed by equally dramatic declines. And they had this exchange:

JOHN MERROW: What’s your reaction to those numbers? That the gains are phony.


Yeah. I mean, I—again, I—I feel like when you look at a situation like that does it call things into question? Absolutely. And should those things be investigated? A hundred percent. No—there’s no doubt about it. // But I can point to, you know, dozens and dozens of schools where, you know, they saw very steady gains over the course of the—the years that we were there, or even saw some dramatic gains that were maintained. So I think, in isolated places—could something have happened? Maybe.

Retired D.C. teacher and blogger extraordinaire G.F. Brandenburg has started an investigation of the “dozens and dozens of schools” that allegedly saw “steady” or “even some dramatic gains” when Rhee was chancellor.

He will continue his search for the “dozens and dozens” of schools in future posts.

See how great it is to be a math teacher?

Here on this blog we have math teacher Gary Rubinstein correcting the mistakes of the Gates Foundation’s $50 million MET project and now math teacher Brandenburg fact-checking the most divisive figure in American education today.

G.F. Brandenburg is the unofficial watchdog for the D.C. public schools.

In this post, he includes a link to the court documents that contains Adell Corthorne’s account about the cheating that she saw, what happened when she reported it, and her belief that the district received Race to the Top funding based on inflated test scores.

This is a jaw-dropper.

Michelle Rhee was interviewed by “The City Paper” in Nashville.

The story describes her thus: “A Tennessee transplant, she is turning her attention to schools in her new state.” It also refers to the “roots” she is “setting” in Nashville. Apparently, she never told the reporter that she lives in Sacramento, not Nashville. She describes herself as a “public school parent” because one of her daughters attends public school in Nashville. But she did not acknowledge that her older daughter goes to an excellent private school, Harpeth Hall School (“Nashville, TN’s only independent, college-preparatory school for girls, grades 5-12”).

One can hardly blame her for choosing Harpeth Hall. It has an 8:1 student/teacher ratio, with a median class size of 13. Class sizes in public schools in Nashville and other cities are much, much larger.

I bet that Harpeth Hall does not give standardized tests and does not evaluate teachers based on their students’ test scores.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Michelle Rhee became an advocate for small class size, and for the same goals and purposes for all children that she wants for her own child?

Read here the inspiring mission and purpose of the school in the Faculty handbook:

Harpeth Hall is an independent college preparatory school for young women where each student
realizes her highest intellectual potential, becomes fluent in the sciences, the humanities, and the
arts, and discovers her creative and athletic talents. Harpeth Hall develops responsible citizens who
have global perspectives and make a meaningful contributions to their communities and to the
world. With a tradition of excellence and a commitment to lifelong learning, Harpeth Hall educates
young women to think critically, to lead confidently, and to live honorably.

Our Core Purpose is to nurture a sense of wonder, to cultivate a will and facility for learning, and to
promote cultural understanding, environmental stewardship, and service to others. The pursuit of
these goals will inspire students and faculty to combine knowledge with goodness and reflection
with action.


This is a remarkable exchange of correspondence about the PBS program “The Education of Michelle Rhee.”

Many readers on this blog thought the documentary was too favorable towards Rhee, recycling a lot of old footage in which she is shown as a courageous upstart who did it all “for the kids.” They thought it provided far too rosy a portrait of a woman who provided lessons in how NOT to be a leader, not only because she used pressure tactics to demand higher scores, but because she repeatedly showed herself to be heartless, callous and indifferent to other human beings.

Others, however, thought it was unfair to Rhee.

Chancellor Kaya Henderson wrote a statement to the PBS ombudsman to complain about the program’s portrayal of the (alleged) cheating scandal. She believes that the investigation by the D.C. Inspector General cleared the district of any suspicion.

Someone who describes herself as a DC parent also wrote to the PBS ombudsman to complain that the program harped on a non-existent cheating scandal.

As you will see, both the statement and the letter attack the credibility of former principal Adell Cothorne, who told John Merrow that she witnessed staff changing test sheets.

PBS stands by the documentary. The exchange is well worth reading.


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