Archives for category: Rhee, Michelle

A while back, Michelle Rhee had an article published under her name in the Washington Post criticizing parents who opt thir children out of state testing. Her main reason seemed to be that parents won’t know whether he school is doing a good job unless they see standardized test scores.

Matt Di Carlo, no fan of he opt out movement, here takes issue with Rhee. She doesn’t understand the purpose of testing, he writes.

He writes:

“For example, right at the outset, the article asserts that tests are “designed to measure how well our schools are teaching our children.”

“This is just not accurate. Tests are designed to permit inferences, however imperfect, about how well students know a given block of content (e.g., relative to other students).

“Now, of course, we as a nation also have chosen to use these data to assess schools’ and teachers’ contributions to students’ progress. Done correctly and interpreted carefully, such analyses potentially yield useful information, even if reasonable people disagree on how and how much they should be used. Regardless, an important part of calibrating and designing that role is to understand the tests and what they can and cannot do.

“Michelle Rhee is highly visible and wields vast resources. When she asserts that tests are constructed to do something they’re not, with scarce acknowledgment as to how little we know about using the data in this manner, one can understand why people feel nervous about the standardized testing enterprise.

“Similarly, later in the article, Ms. Rhee goes on to offer the claim that opt-out advocates mistakenly think tests “are designed to pass judgment on students,” and responds that the truth is “quite the opposite” – i.e., that tests are “an indicator of … whether schools, educators and policymakers are doing their jobs.”

“While “pass judgment on students” carries negative connotations (and thus strikes me as a kind of a straw man), the truth is that tests are, at least in many respects, designed for this purpose – to assess (again, imperfectly) students’ knowledge of the material. Moreover, to reiterate, using testing data to draw inferences about the performance of schools, educators and policymakers is enormously complex and difficult.

“This distinction between the measurement of student versus school/educator performance is not semantic (and their conflation not at all confined to this op-ed). The flawed assumption that testing results are, by themselves, indicators of school/teacher performance is poisonous to both education policy and the debate surrounding it, It is, for example, reflected in the consistent misinterpretation of testing data in our public discourse, as well as the painfully crude, sure-to-mislead measures of NCLB.”

Matt is a middle-ground kind of guy. He is always reasonable.

But now, I think, parents are not feeling reasonable. Many believe that their children are cheated of a good education by the current obsession with testing. Many feel that the stakes are too high and the pressure on children and teachers robs schools of the joy of learning. High-stakes testing is out of control, and reasonable people recognize it.

I think they are right.

Peter Dreier, a professor at Occidental College and fervent advocate for public education, asks why public education continues to lavish so much favorable attention in the leaders of the privatization movement while disregarding dissenting voices or–worse–treating our nation’s public schools shabbily.

He suggests that the Republican attack of public funding of PBS may have made the network dependent on the billionaires who favor privatization and view public schools with contempt.

With the sole exception of Bill Moyers, who has run programs about ALEC’s efforts to destroy every public service, and who recently interviewed me about the profit motive in the privatization movement, PBS has made no effort to investigate the assault on public education across the nation.

Dreier contrasts the lavish attention devoted to the privatization propaganda film “Waiting for ‘Superman,’” with the absence of attention to a remarkable new film celebrating the daily struggles of public schools in Pasadena, California. This film, “Go Public,” tells the true story of life in a public school. Will it appear on public television? That’s up to you.

The same might be said of “Rise Above the Mark,” another well-produced film that tells the story of real life in schools today and the insidious efforts to destroy public education by the powerful and complicit politicians.

David Sirota recently compelled PBS to return $3.5 million to billionaire John Arnold, who had underwritten a series on the “pension crisis,” an issue dear to him as a critic of defined benefit pensions.

Maybe Dreier’s critique will encourage PBS to give equal time to our nation’s public schools, not just their critics.

PS: I mistakenly attributed the article to another wonderful Paul–Paul Horton. Wrong! My bad!

You know Common Core is in deep trouble when Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst creates a group to rally round the cause of high expectations. Somehow this new organization pretends to be antagonists to the union but the teachers’ unions have been generally supportive of Common Core. The criticism of the state’s rushed rollout has been nearly universal. Exactly what the demonstrators are supporting is unclear, unless the point is to defend the startlingly high failure rates generated by the state tests. Only 3% of English learners passed. Only 5% of students with disabilities passed. Less than 20% of black and Hispanic students passed. Maybe what StudentsFirst would like best is a test that no one passed. Now, that’s high expectations!

I came across an article in the Washington Post by Michelle Rhee, in which she chastised parents who opted their children out of state tests. This article made me happy, because it shows that the Queen Bee of high-stakes testing is worried. She is worried that the opt out movement is gaining traction. She is worried that parents are sick of the Status Quo of the past dozen years. If parents opt out, there won’t be enough data to fire teachers, to give bonuses, and to close schools. The Status Quo might collapse. How will we know how students are doing if we don’t test them? How will we know if their teachers are any good without standardized tests? How will we know if their school should be closed?

I must say that I was brought to a sharp halt in my reading of this article when Rhee spoke of what happened when her daughter came home from public school, relieved that the last test was over. This puzzled me because Rhee lives in Sacramento, and her daughters live in Nashville. I wondered, was she visiting Nashville that day? Then I remembered that one of her daughters goes to a public school, and the other goes to an elite private school that does not give standardized tests. How does she know how the daughter in the private school is doing? How can she judge her teachers? How will the principals in that school know if the teachers are doing a good job if the kids don’t take standardized tests? It is very puzzling.

And I wondered about one other thing: Michelle Rhee is a fierce advocate for charters and vouchers because she believes in choice. Why doesn’t she believe that parents should be able to choose to say no to state testing? Many voucher schools are exempt from state testing but I haven’t heard her demand that legislators include them. How will they know how their children are doing?

I wasn’t going to write about Rhee, because she seems so yesterday, but then Peter Greene sent me this hilarious post, and I realized I had to write too. But he is so funny! he calls it: “The WaPo Wastes Space on That Woman.”

We have heard constant patter about who opposes Common Core. According to Arne Duncan, only the Tea Party and a few disgruntled cranks oppose it.

But more interesting is who supports Common Core. Aside from Arne Duncan and the organizations that created it, Common Core has the fervent support of Jeb Bush, Michelle Rhee, a dozen hard-right Republican governors, and corporate America.

Erin Osborne has created a useful graphic to show who supports Common Core. Read it here.

The bloggers at valueaddedmeasureit.com have proposed what they call “the fight of the century” to replace “the fight of the century that wasn’t.”

They refer to the debate that never happened between Michelle Rhee and me.

They refer to efforts by Lehigh University to set up a debate between us on February 6, which did not happen because Rhee kept raising new demands and eventually backed out when she said she could not find a third debate partner.

They offer a few conditions that might make this debate actually happen.

See if you think they suggest a workable format.

Dr. Yohuru Williams teaches history at Fairfield University in Connecticut.

In this post, he condenses the lessons of the best-seller All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, reducing sixteen lessons to only six. They are on point and hilarious.

These are six rules to live by and to learn by. School would be a far better place for learning if everyone took Dr. Williams’ good advice.

Here are two of his rules:

 

  • Play fair. (Of course, this is impossible when the ultimate measure of a student’s success is reduced to how well they perform on standardized tests). Recent cheating scandals, involving some of the luminaries of Corporate Education Reform, illustrate the danger of a hyper-competitive model of education that substitutes standardization for innovation instead of more organic and battle-tested measures of student achievement.

 

· Don’t hit people. Or yell at people (Chris Christie), or make up facts (Stefan Pryor), or denigrate parents (Arne Duncan), or brag about taping the mouths of children shut (Michelle Rhee), or lie about test scores. Take your pick. But seriously, the crass manner in which the apostles of corporate education reform have “engaged” parents and teachers from Connecticut to California demonstrates how little respect they have for the communities or “children” whom they claim to value. See also: Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Michelle Rhee is on a national vendetta against teachers. According to an investigation by a special unit of Al Jazeera, Rhee has poured large sums into a campaign to attack unions and teachers in California, using the services of a politically powerful lobbyist in Sacramento.

Since there is no research to support her campaign to destroy unions and to eliminate due process from teachers, her crusade is either an ego trip or payback for her failure to crush the teachers in DC.

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On February 6, Michelle Rhee preferred to speak to the Minneapolis business leadership instead of debating me.

But fortunately, I got a first-hand report from someone who attended the event and explained who spoke and what they said.

Rhee, as is her custom, advised the audience that the path to excellence begins with eliminating tenure or due process for all teachers. That way, they can be fired immediately, for any reason, with no hearing. I wondered if anyone in the audience asked for examples of states or districts that have no due process for teachers and have achieved outstanding results.

There was, of course, a lot of talk about data, data, data. Big data will solve all problems since children are interchangeable widgets.

The last speaker, Kati Haycock, warned that low-income students were assigned far too many inexperienced teachers. The reporter wondered if she was talking about TFA, which is a dominant force in Minneapolis.

One of our Marion’s leading experts on teacher evaluation, Audrey Amrein Beardsley, here evaluates Michelle Rhee’s efforts to promote her failed ideas in South Carolina.

Rhee trots out her familiar rhetoric about bad teachers and failing schools in one of the nation’s poorest states, urging them to buy her snake oil. Will they buy? Or will they do some research?

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