I learned yesterday that the Colorado Department of Education has hired the ubiquitous firm Alvarez & Marsal to investigate a cheating scandal in Denver (http://www.ednewscolorado.org/2012/05/15/38261-state-investigating-two-denver-schools).

Alvarez & Marsal has no experience in investigating cheating scandals. The firm is a business consulting firm in New York City. It was hired a few weeks ago to investigate the Michelle Rhee cheating scandal in Washington, D.C. (by Rhee’s former deputy), but that investigation has not yet occurred. That scarcely constitutes expertise in this field.

A&M was hired to run the St. Louis schools several years ago. They sent in one of their principals, former CEO of Brooks Brothers clothing store, to run the district. After collecting $5 million, A&M departed and the district sank further into despair and was taken over by the state. A&M also did some consulting in New Orleans, which was awash in money for consultants.

Then A&M got a $16 million contract to rearrange the bus schedules in New York City. In its most memorable day, the firm was responsible for stranding thousands of children on street corners on the coldest day of the year. What New Yorkers remember best about A&M was that it charged the city $500 per hour for the work of its executives. Read that again, slowly. $500 an hour, not a day. The city’s Department of Education never apologized, and no one was ever held accountable for the fiasco. But as we now know, only teachers are held accountable, never the leaders of the school system or their highly paid advisors.

We will watch with interest to see what comes of A&M’s new role as the investigator of cheating on tests.