Michelle Rhee issued a report card yesterday that graded states by whether they satisfied her.
What she wants is privatization of public education (charters and vouchers); high-stakes testing by which to judge teacher quality; an end to teacher tenure; and the weakening if not outright elimination of teacher unions.
Here is what we can say about her agenda:
THERE IS ZERO EVIDENCE THAT HER POLICY PREFERENCES PRODUCE HIGHER TEST SCORES OR BETTER SCHOOLS.
To the contrary, the states that follow her advice tend to have the lowest test scores!
The public schools of Massachusetts are unquestionably the most successful in the United States. On the National Assessment of Educational Progress, they are number one in the nation, by far. When Massachusetts students took part in the latest international assessment, they were ranked among the highest performing nations in the world in math and science. Black students in Massachusetts performed as well as Finland. Rhee graded Massachusetts D+.
Rhee gave a D to Connecticut and New Jersey, which are consistently among the top three on NAEP.
Rhee gave Louisiana one of her highest marks, even though the state is among the lowest ranking states in the nation on the NAEP. But it scores high with Rhee because Bobby Jindal is following the ALEC playbook on vouchers, charters, online learning and for-profit schools.
Rhee rated Washington, D.C., #4 among all states even though it is one of the nation’s lowest performing districts with the lowest graduation rate and the largest black-white achievement gap and Hispanic-white achievement gap of any big city. Having shifted nearly half its pupils to privately managed charters, it is a success by Rhee’s metrics, even though the students do poorly and teacher turnover is among the nation’s highest at 20% annually.
This much is clear: Rhee has no regard for evidence. As Richard Zeiger, the deputy superintendent of instruction in California told the New York Times, the state’s F rating was a “badge of honor.”
“This is an organization that frankly makes its living by asserting that schools are failing,” Mr. Zeiger said of StudentsFirst. “I would have been surprised if we had got anything else.”