Archives for category: Rhee, Michelle

The public schools of the District of Columbia began their era of radical “reform” in 2007. The City Council, desperate for a quick fix to the low test scores and bureaucratic dysfunction of the school system, believed the much-heralded claims of a “New York City miracle,” supposedly due to mayoral control. The D.C. Council adopted mayoral control, hoping for the same miracle. Hard-charging Mayor Adrian Fenty, acting on the advice of NYC Chancellor Joel Klein, hired Michelle Rhee to be the Chancellor of the D.C. school system in 2007.

 

Rhee became the national face of the new reform movement. She closed schools, despite community protests. She fired principals and teachers. She ridiculed anyone who spoke of poverty as making excuses. She negotiated a sweeping teacher evaluation system and made war with the teachers’ union. She appeared on the covers of both TIME and Newsweek. She even won plaudits from both Presidential candidates during one of their debates in 2008. According to TIME, Rhee had a plan to fix the D.C. schools. She even predicted she would make it the best urban district in the nation.

 

Rhee was a lightning rod for admirers and critics. In 2010, Mayor Fenty lost his bid for re-election; Rhee was the central issue. She resigned, and the new Mayor Vincent Gray appointed Rhee’s deputy Kaya Henderson, fearful of offending the powerful supporters of Rhee and her methods. Henderson pledged to continue Rhee’s initiatives, but with a less confrontational style.

 

So after eight years, how did D.C. students do on the new PARCC test? Recall that D.C. won a Race to the Top Grant and embraced the Common Core standards.

 

The results are in, and they are appalling.

 

“District of Columbia officials released results from a recent citywide elementary school exam Monday, and the scores are abysmal. Less than a quarter of students met expectations in either math or English.

 

“Among all eighth grade students who took the test, just 3 percent met expectations in math, while 8 percent of seventh graders met the math expectations, according to Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test results….

 

“Of all the D.C. public school students in grades three through eight who took the test, only 25 percent met English expectations, and just 21 percent are on the correct level in math achievement.

 

“Around half of individual elementary schools didn’t have a single student who exceeded expectations in math….

 

“In October the test results for high school students showed just one in 10 sophomores is on track to be prepared for college.

 

“The vast majority of city schools scored flat zeros in math preparedness, with the 10 percent average being largely propped up by two premiere magnet schools with rigorous admission standards.

 

“Kaya Henderson, chancellor of DC Public Schools, called the test results “sobering,” and called for more “strategic investments” in the city’s failing schools.”

 

G.F. Brandenburg, retired D.C. Teacher and lose observer of the District’s schools, says the combination of all-testing-all-the-time and putting half the students in unregulated charter schools was not successful.

 

Eight years of reform and what was accomplished? D.C. reforms cost many hundreds of millions of dollars. Many professionals were fired. There was little or no benefit to students. In Wendy Kopp’s last book, “A Chance to Make History,” she points to D.C. as an example of Teach for America’s ability to reform an entire district. That story line just dissolved.

 

Who will be held accountable? Who will really put students in the District of Columbia first? If any district can be considered a full-scale trial of the new punitive, competitive, business-style approach to education, it is the District of Columbia. How sad.

 

 

 

 

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2015/11/30/less-than-a-quarter-of-dc-elementary-students-prepared-for-school/#ixzz3t2oUCY9b

 

 

 

 

ESPN had planned to release a documentary about the life of NBA basketball star and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson (who is married to the controversial Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of the District of Columbia public schools). The documentary was supposed to be released on October 20. However, the sports network has canceled the release of the film. 

Tickets to tonight’s showcase of the documentary Down In The Valley in Sacramento, Calif., just got collectable. It may be the only public viewing the ESPN-produced film, about how Kevin Johnson saved the local NBA franchise, ever gets. Mere hours before showtime for the local premiere at a downtown theater, ESPN said that the movie has been pulled from the schedule of the network’s 30 for 30 series.

“We are re-evaluating the content presentation of it and delaying the premiere,” ESPN vice-president John Dahl said in an interview with SI’s Richard Deitsch. “I think the most important thing here is to make sure it’s clear that we are not tone deaf and we’re aware of a renewed focus on certain issues.”

The documentary was originally set to air on October 20. An ESPN source tells Deadspin that the Worldwide Leader has “decided to open up the film and take a look at where we may make some adjustments……”

Johnson, the former NBA star and now mayor of Sacramento, Calif., has been the subject of a recent series of stories about financial investigations and sexual abuse allegations that have trailed him from his playing days through his second term as the chief executive of his hometown.

The young woman who charged Kevin Johnson with sexual abuse many years ago has come forward to tell her story.

Johnson was a major basketball star at the time. He is now Mayor of Sacramento and is assumed to have ambitions to be Governor of California. He is married to Michelle Rhee, the controversial former Chancellor of the District of Columbia public schools.

The accuser was 15 at the time of the alleged incident. He was 29. She is now 36.

Koba [the accuser] says Johnson cut off contact, but eventually agreed to pay her $230,600—she received an initial payment of $59,000, nearly $92,000 went into a trust, while the rest went to legal fees, her mom, and medical costs to treat her mental health.
The agreement, she says, was signed by her and Johnson, and it’s in a safety deposit box in Arizona that can only be opened if she and his lawyer are there….

Koba says she spent the settlement on tuition and other things on one semester at University of San Francisco. She says she dropped out, saying she didn’t want to look back on her degree knowing Johnson’s money paid for it. She eventually got her degree from the University of Arizona.

Johnson’s office released a statement on Friday saying “These allegations are two decades old. They were thoroughly investigated and rejected by law enforcement and reported in the media. They weren’t true then, and they aren’t true now, period.”

The original story, with greater detail, was reported in Deadspin.

If it is untrue, Mayor Johnson should sue her for defamation. Or he could send his lawyer to open the safety deposit box to prove his innocence.

The Weekly Standard, a conservative publication, writes that Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento (husband of Michelle Rhee Johnson) is caught up in a growing number of scandals.

Despite little national coverage, scandals surrounding former NBA star and Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson have been intensifying over past few months. Monday’s report at Deadspin is a good place to start — things have gotten so bad that Johnson’s allies are accusing a local paper that’s done a lot of damning reporting on Johnson of racism.

As Deadspin notes, there’s “a variety of sexual, financial, and ethical improprieties” swirling around Johnson. Among other things, the mayor is suing — and being sued — by the National Conference of Black Mayors. And Johnson is also accused of using public money and resources for his own personal benefit involving work done for the National Basketball Players Association.

That last scandal is particulary interesting, because it mirrors accusations made against him in 2009, when he was accused of misusing federal grants meant for the Americorps program by Gerald Walpin, the inspector general of the Corporation for National and Community Service….
Mr. Walpin made a referral to the United States prosecutor in Sacramento, recommending that Mr. Johnson and Mr. Gonzalez face criminal charges and be banned from future contracts.

According to Walpin, the chairman of the board of the Corporation for National and Community Service, Alan Solomont, was a major Democratic fundraiser and was unhappy with his reports pointing out the misuse of federal money. Johnson was also said to be close to the Obamas, and shortly afterward the president abruptly fired Walpin from his job. The firing set off a flurry of inquiries from a bipartisan group of senators concerned that Walpin’s firing had been been politically motivated. There were also allegations that the U.S. attorney in Sacramento, Lawrence Brown, filed an ethics complaint against Walpin to help lift a ban on Johnson receiving federal funds as well as curry favor with the White House. Brown was seeking a presidential appointment to become United States attorney for the Eastern District of California.

Now Johnson remains mired in scandal six years later and is being accused of allegations of corruption very similar to what was first alleged by Walpin. And in the intervening years, the Obama administration has acquired quite the reputation for selectively enforcing laws against compromised allies and for the vigorous prosecution of political enemies on dubious grounds. Johnson’s current troubles certainly suggest that the president was wrong to fire Walpin, and are an unpleasant reminder of the Chicago-style politics that have come to define this administration’s questionable uses of political power.

Long-time readers of this blog know that we have had a more or less steady procession of trolls who have inhabited these precincts. They lurk. They come and go. Some are grumpy. Some argue; some take a thread and take it off point. Some are annoying. I leave them alone so long as they live within the rules of the blog (no insulting your host because you are in my living room, no cursing, no conspiracy-mongering, a basic level of civility—and no monopolizing the comments section).

I have never asked others who blog what they do with their trolls. I just play it by ear. On severe; occasions, I have banned them when they broke the rules. Sometimes I put them in a queue to moderate their comments before they are posted to make sure they don’t continue their bad behavior. I give them a warning before there are consequences. But I am generally very tolerant.

It turns out that there are people who actually study troll behavior and offer advice about how to deal with them. The New York Times recently published an article on “the epidemic of facelessness.” This is a phenomenon new to our age, in which people communicate without having face-to-face contact. Much online interaction is between complete strangers. Online interactions can sometimes allow people–in their anonymity–to unleash a level of rage and hostility that they would never express in a face-to-face encounter. Some people have received death threats or rape threats online from total strangers, which happens to be criminal activity.

Stephen Marche writes:

What do we do with the trolls? It is one of the questions of the age. There are those who argue that we have a social responsibility to confront them. Mary Beard, the British historian, not only confronted a troll who sent her misogynistic messages, she befriended him and ended up writing him letters of reference. One young video game reviewer, Alanah Pearce, sent Facebook messages to the mothers of young boys who had sent her rape threats. These stories have the flavor of the heroic, a resistance to an assumed condition: giving face to the faceless.

The more established wisdom about trolls, at this point, is to disengage. Obviously, in many cases, actual crimes are being committed, crimes that demand confrontation, by victims and by law enforcement officials, but in everyday digital life engaging with the trolls “is like trying to drown a vampire with your own blood,” as the comedian Andy Richter put it. Ironically, the Anonymous collective, a pioneer of facelessness, has offered more or less the same advice.

Rule 14 of their “Rules of the Internet” is, “Do not argue with trolls — it means that they win.

Rule 19 is, “The more you hate it the stronger it gets.”

Ultimately, neither solution — confrontation or avoidance — satisfies. Even if confrontation were the correct strategy, those who are hounded by trolls do not have the time to confront them. To leave the faceless to their facelessness is also unacceptable — why should they own the digital space simply because of the anonymity of their cruelty?

There is a third way, distinct from confrontation or avoidance: compassion. The original trolls, Scandinavian monsters who haunted the Vikings, inhabited graveyards or mountains, which is why adventurers would always run into them on the road or at night. They were dull. They possessed monstrous force but only a dim sense of the reality of others. They were mystical nature-forces that lived in the distant, dark places between human habitations. The problem of contemporary trolls is a subset of a larger crisis, which is itself a consequence of the transformation of our modes of communication. Trolls breed under the shadows of the bridges we build.

In a world without faces, compassion is a practice that requires discipline, even imagination. Social media seems so easy; the whole point of its pleasure is its sense of casual familiarity. But we need a new art of conversation for the new conversations we are having — and the first rule of that art must be to remember that we are talking to human beings: “Never say anything online that you wouldn’t say to somebody’s face.” But also: “Don’t listen to what people wouldn’t say to your face.”

Given the national reach of the blog, I won’t be inviting any trolls for dinner. But there is an important point here: face-to-face contact tends to dissipate the rage that anonymity and facelessness promote. There is no way to make that happen, unfortunately. So we should just bear with one another, listen to those who join with us to argue every last point, be patient, be civil, and don’t jump to judgment.

In the previous post, I recounted the various health issues I dealt with this past year, but I left out one. A few months ago, I learned that I had cataracts in both eyes. I had to have them operated on, one month apart, this summer (as Bette Davis supposedly said, growing old is not for sissies.)

I called around in search of a highly respected eye surgeon. With some trepidation and much hilarity (cue the nervous laughter), I settled on Dr. Michelle Rhee of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. She seemed very professional and skilled when I met her.

The first surgery is over. My left eye is healing well. Thank you, Dr. Rhee.

One of life’s little ironies.

Mercedes Schneider has some questions for Campbell Brown. Brown, who once worked for CNN, is now the face of the “reform” movement, at least the teacher-bashing wing of it. She has created an organization that filed a lawsuit opposing teacher tenure in Néw York. Her ostensible motive is to get sexual predators out of the classroom.

Schneider reviews the teachers’ contract in question and wonders whether Brown knows that it was negotiated by Joel Klein. She also wonders why Brown has been silent on the same issues regarding a certain mayor of a certain city in California.

Schneider is perplexed by Brown’s selective indignation. She cites the case of a Department of Education hire (not a member of the teachers’ union) who confessed to multiple charges of statutory rape. Brown’s silence is deafening. She quotes from Patrick Walsh, a teacher-blogger in Néw York City.

Luke Brinker writes in Salon about “Michelle Rhee’s favorite wing nuts.” He says that StudentsFirst, flush with hedge fund cash, is spending freely on hard-right GOP candidates.

He writes:

“Michelle Rhee, the former Washington, D.C. schools chancellor and the longtime public face of the education “reform” movement, makes no secret of the fact that her nonprofit organization StudentsFirst backs Republican politicians. In 2012, the self-described Democrat’s group threw its support behind conservative candidates in state legislative races around the country, overlooking many GOPers’ extreme stances on issues like abortion and LGBT rights in its quest to elect candidates who subscribed to the group’s agenda of increasing the number of charter schools, weakening teachers’ unions and tenure protections, and reinforcing an approach to education that emphasizes high-stakes standardized testing. This year, Rhee is once again lending her organization’s financial might to a set of Republicans with hard-right views, as StudentsFirst aims to keep a Republican-led coalition in control of the New York state Senate.

“In its fight to keep the chamber in the GOP’s hands, StudentsFirst launched New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany, a political action committee that quickly became the biggest spender on behalf of Republican Senate candidates. Among its most generous benefactors have been some of the hedge fund world’s boldface names; Daniel Loeb of Third Point LLC and Julian Robertson, formerly of Tiger Management, each ponied up $1 million, Elliot Management’s Paul Singer donated $500,000, and Louis Bacon of Moore Capital Management has also contributed to the group.

“Flush with Wall Street cash, New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany has lavished more than $1 million on ads for four right-wing state Senate candidates; the ads denounce higher taxes and public campaign financing and all but one cast New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a foe of the “reform” movement, in the role of left-wing bogeyman….”

How many times have you heard people like Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, Joel Klein (remember him?) and other so-called reformers say that poverty doesn’t matter, that poverty is an excuse for poor teaching?

I have always believed that poverty imposes tremendous burdens on students and their families: hunger, homelessness, lack of medical care, illness, etc.

The best evidence of the difference that poverty makes is SAT scores. The poorest kids have the lowest scores, the most affluent have the highest. The difference from bottom to top is nearly 400 points. To be exact, it is 398 points.

The Wall Street Journal suggests a new name for the SAT: the Student Affluence Test.

What does the SAT measure? Family income and family education.

Those with vast resources of their own probably think that poverty is a personal defect rather than the inevitable result of an inequitable tax system.

Politico.com reported that StudentsFirst chose a staunch advocate of charters, vouchers, and privatization to replace Michelle Rhee. (As usual, the word “reformer” is a synonym for privatization and hostility to teachers’ rights):

“STUDENTSFIRST PICKS NEW PRESIDENT: Longtime education reformer Jim Blew has been selected by the StudentsFirst Board of Directors to serve as the group’s new president, replacing former D.C. schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Blew has served as an adviser to the Walton Family Foundation on a host of K-12 education reform issues and he has directed campaigns for the Alliance for School Choice and its predecessor, the American Education Reform Council. He steps in at an integral time for StudentsFirst – when news broke in mid-August that Rhee was stepping down, reform activists said [ http://politico.pro/1rt7Uh8%5D she was leaving a trail of disappointment and disillusionment in her wake. Four years ago, Rhee pledged to raise $1 billion to transform education worldwide. But StudentsFirst has been hobbled by a high turnover rate. And activists said Rhee failed to build critical coalitions, instead alienating activists who should have been her allies with strategies they found imperious, uncompromising and even illogical.”

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