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Michelle Rhee May Have Lied To You About Those Test Scores

Or, more like when testmaker McGraw-Hill asked former D.C. School Chancellor Michelle Rhee to investigate the high number of erasures on tests indicating that adults went in and changed kids' wrong answers to the right ones, she didn't do that. Then Rhee went on Oprah and became an education rock star based a possible fraud created by panicked teachers and principals who feared losing their jobs due to low test scores. The Daily Beast went in on her, twice, on their site today.

More after the jump.

From USA Today:

"This is like an education Ponzi scam," says Nathan Saunders, head of the Washington Teachers' Union. "If your test scores improve, you make more money. If not, you get fired. That's incredibly dangerous."

If fear just makes you fake it to make it, the kids still don't learn, hence the Rhee Revolution was really the Rhee Resolution. As in, she resolved to do whatever it took to make her policies of massive teacher firing, union busting and corporate education look good, even if those looks were quite possibly based on bold-faced lies.

But you know who lost in the end? The students. Because state and city governments bought this load of obfuscation. Entertainers, Hollywood and filmmakers believed her. Her model is the one schools are measuring themselves by and her model is myth.

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Reader Comments (17)

I've always said that Rhee was a hack and this proves it. Her only solution was to blame and fire teachers, so despite the hype she never really had any unique vision. She was just on a massive which-hunt.

March 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVal

I'm not going to lie Rhee sucked me in for a bit. But I have sense discovered that she is batshit insane. She just applauded the most disturbing teacher bill that the Florida governor signed. It directly ties teacher pay to test scores and now the state has to come up with a crazy formula to pay teachers.

March 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

I was sucked in for a bit too, but as I live in DC, it was easier to see early on what a disaster she was -- and hard to watch when the whole country fell for her schtick. though I understand how if could happen. She's a very talented liar.

March 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterefavorite

the crappy parents are a bigger source of blame than whatever rhee is doing.

March 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterswiv

I agree swiv!!

March 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commentergsutiger2

The teachers union had nothing to do with this ? Guess trying to end the voucher program didn't either, please.
Students fail because of a bad system for learning, not any other reason no matter how you slice, dice or toss it to the side!

March 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersteven santos

I have to agree with swiv on this one. A lot of parents don't spend enough time helping their children with their homework or not even making sure that their children are doing their assignments. What's even worse, is that alot of parents support their children when they behave poorly in school.

There are numerous studies that show how much parental guidance is the greatest influential tool in helping children to make more positve life choices. These areas include drug/alcohol use, sexual activity, nutrition, financial matters, etc. However, for some reason, they would like us to believe that parents DON'T have much influence over their child's academic performance, and that it should be teachers that play the greatest role.

It is not the teacher's responsibility to parent your child, especially when any one teacher can have 100+ students per day. if you can't even control your 1 child, how do you expect a complete stranger they only see 1 hr/day to control all 100 of their students?

i'm not saying that there aren't teachers who need to be fired, or that the school system isn't messed up, but at the end of the day, there is only so much that 1 individual can do.

March 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAuthor

I actually agree with swiv for a change, LOL.There have been many studies done that indicate parent involvement and the student teacher ratio makes the most impact in learning. Teachers really should only have 10 kids per classroom; increasing class sizes will decimate the already beleaguered public school system. There are a few bad teachers, but there are a few bad apples in every profession, holding teachers to unrealistic expectations of raising 30-60 children is unfair and setting the kids and teachers up for failure. The root of the problem is that many public school students’ parents are struggling financially and are working several job or are uneducated themselves and cannot help their children with their homework, combined with large class sizes is a recipe for disaster. As we know many kids are being raised in single parent households, now that there is no longer social pressure to marry and raise children together, which places a greater financial and time burden on many parents. An answer can be smaller class sizes, tutors and for the truly hard luck cases boarding school. This takes money, but there is actually money in the school system, however they are spending too much money on programs that don’t work and highly paid administrators who do not teach. Funding should go to the the only thing that does work which is smaller class sizes, or one or two inexpensive teachers aids in each classroom of 30. We need to put pressure on our politicians to pass protectionist legislation to bring the high paying jobs back to America, so that parents can afford to work only 40 hours a week and spend more time with their kids.

March 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

sometimes parents suck. Agreed, if parents suck the kids have no choice but to be 'raised' by the state. Rhee is an example of when the home fails. Besides, parents are supposed to be responsible for raising, teachers just teach. If you child is a discipline problem, the only role the teacher plays is to get the child under control so they can do their job. Other than that, manners, etc is only the teachers problem if it effects the learning. Rhee or no Rhee, parents are still the ones responsible. If there's no parental education the cycle continues on and on...from someone who was 'raised' by the state.

April 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermeme

bad parenting. terrible school system. neither of which changes the possibility that some teachers under Rhee's leadership may have cheated.

April 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMB

Wow!!! The comments!!!! The problem is that no one cares. No one really cares whether the kids learn anything or not. The adults are too busy pointing fingers at each others---parents blaming teachers, teachers blaming parents for not being involved enough and the administration for not supporting them enough, the administration blaming bugetary shortfalls, not having enough funding. And the circle goes round and round. Where and when will it stop? No one knows. Yes, parents do need to be more involved in the children's education--doesn't mean it is going to happen. You can't make someone be a parent. I know there are "good" and 'bad" teachers out there, but what does a "good" teacher look like----someone who shows up. does the lesson plan, go home, and collect a paycheck. Sometimes being just a "good" teacher is not good enough. Also, the educational system as not caught up with the 21-st century student. I think all kids are capable of learning, but how are we teaching. We are competing with so many other things in the students' lives---computers, ipods, cell phones, video games, etc... that it is hard to get their attention because the way we teach has remained the same since the 18th century when Jefferson established free, public education in this country. The educational paradigm needs to catch up to the 21-st century because we are losing alot of students. But, like, I mentioned earlier no one cares. People spend too much time and energy paying lip-service to the issue instead of spending that time and energy trying to reform education.

April 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDevona

I'm from DC but I live in Baltimore and I saw early on that she was nothoing but a anti-union hack with no vision in reviving the DC school system. It seemed to me like she was firing veteran teachers and putting in a bunch of newbies with hardly any skills and they would leave after a couple of years anyway to go to private and charter schools. With absolutely no community involvement.

April 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGreen Afro Diva

Everyone is looking for the magic pill!! Why haven't we learned that there is no such thing as magic? Rhee sold the media on "her magic" and spread it like it was the gospel. Then the American public, who loves a good super hero, ate up the story line of a Chancellor with super-ordinary powers.

I'm a African American teacher of 30 years and a mother of 3 college grads. The "magic" I used was good parenting and good schools that supported what I wanted for my children. Notice I said good schools, not perfect schools. There were problems, and certainly challenges along the way. There was nothing easy about raising decent, healthy, children who want to excell in an urban school. It took alot of prayer, some tears, and daily determination.

But maybe we've learned something here. This could actually be a turning point for education. Maybe we'll actually change the educational system for the better, and stop looking for that perfect person with all the answers. Maybe we can find ways to educate some of our challenged parents. Just maybe we'll stop listening so hard to those who are just trying to make a buck off of our children and start spending our money wisely. Rather than looking for a quick fix, playing the teacher-blame-game, maybe we'll turn a deaf ear to know-it-all "do-gooders" and polititians who are just trying to get a vote. That's alot of maybes...

April 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterona

April 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter: ona

ona hit the nail on the head with this:

"Just maybe we'll stop listening so hard to those who are just trying to make a buck off of our children and start spending our money wisely. Rather than looking for a quick fix, playing the teacher-blame-game, maybe we'll turn a deaf ear to know-it-all "do-gooders" and polititians who are just trying to get a vote. "

Consider this so-called education reform as one component of the" Negro Industrial Complex"; making money using Black folk for profit... and at our expense.


April 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMBW

Finally, People see Michelle Rhee four what she is, her and Arnie Duncan needs to go. I hope she doesn't think she's going to come to California and try her b.s, She is suppose to become our Mayor's wife.. No real comment on that but look side eyed about Kevin Johnson and her? Wow! You know that saying black men will take anything but black and she doesn't have to be attractive. Example : Michelle Rhee.

April 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMai

The key to better grades is better parenting. The thing that I always hated about this chick is her focus on the teachers. If a kid comes to school with no intention of learning there is little that a teacher can do. Parents need to be on the hook. If a student is failing then the parent must be held accountable and made to prove that they are doing every thing in their power to help. They need to make sure that the student is getting extra help and doing the work. There are so many programs that tutor children that are full of empty space in almost every district. A lot of them are free. If not, the student should be put out and the parent needs to find an alternative way to educate the child or go to jail. and loose custody. Educating a child id just as important as feeding, clothing and providing shelter and if you cant do all three or at least seek out aid when needed, then you should not have custody. Why doom a child to failure?

April 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternovanova

LOL. I'm a native Washingtonian. My mother, my godfather and extended family are or were (retired) a par of DCPS. I actually get upset with them because they have the inside track on what's going but they won't go before the city council to testify (esp. when Rhee was in office) about what's REALLY going with the system. Everything that is put out there about Rhee is really PR fluff, especially during the whole release of Waiting for Superman. I was really ruffled and disturbed that folks were giving her and former mayor Fenty props when they made matters worse. They were young and brought in a new fresh take alright.... they were not that progressive. There are so many issues with the system before Rhee, during Rhee and sadly after. I can't believe Mayor Gray seems to be sticking with Kaya Henderson, the person that was second in charge under Rhee.

I love my city, but this government, esp. the school system needs hardcore prayer and a one of those Kung Fu Panda "Skadooosh" finger bombs to just start clean.

April 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMahoganie Jade Browne
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