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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 02/28/2011

Debating Michelle Rhee

By Valerie Strauss

My guest is Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, a nonprofit public policy research organization, writes about education, equal opportunity and civil rights. This appeared on the foundation's blog.


By Richard D. Kahlenberg
I reviewed in Slate Magazine a new biography of former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee called The Bee Eater, written by former USA Today editorial writer Richard Whitmire. In my review, I noted that Rhee is wildly popular among members of the elite media, even though there is very little evidence to back up Rhee’s claim that low quality teachers, and their union protectors, are bigger impediments to equal educational opportunity than poverty and segregation. I was critical of Whitmire’s highly favorable treatment of Rhee’s tenure.

In the old days, authors took their lumps when their books were reviewed, but now they routinely respond, which is a healthy development. Whitmire, who is a good and clear writer, responded to my review on his Bee Eater blog. He makes some interesting points and raises some good questions, which I’ll try to respond to here.

The two central questions posed by Whitmire’s book are: Why do D.C. schools perform so much worse than many other big city school districts? And was Rhee’s the right approach to improving the schools?

Why Do D.C. Schools Perform Poorly?

In comparing school districts, virtually every education researcher will point to poverty levels and segregation as the key factors in why certain districts do better than others. Districts are made up of schools, and schools which have high levels of poverty consistently perform far worse than those with lower levels of poverty.

These differences outstrip the much-discussed achievement gap between the U.S. and other countries. For example, on the recently released 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus at the University of Southern California, notes that 15-year-old Americans in low poverty schools (those with less than 10 percent of students eligible for free or reduced price lunch) scored 551 on reading, higher than the overall average of any participating country. By contrast, students in schools with more than 75% of students from low-income families, scored 446 on average, second to last among the 34 nations in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The biggest reason that D.C. scores poorly overall is that it has higher numbers of students coming from low-income backgrounds and attending high poverty schools than most other American school districts. But Whitmire then narrows the question to ask, if we take poverty and race off the table, why do poor black students in D.C. perform two years behind poor black students in places like New York?

For Whitmire the answer is obvious: teacher quality. He says that “experts” inside and outside of the D.C. school system estimated that two-thirds of teachers needed to be fired when Rhee came in. He provides no explanation for how this astonishing figure was arrived at, nor does he provide a comparable figure for the percentage of teachers he considers sub-par in New York City. Whatever one thinks of Rhee’s IMPACT teacher evaluation program, it didn’t exist when she first came on so it can’t be the source of the two-thirds figure.

Whitmire spent many hours visiting Washington D.C. public schools – something I have not done – and so it should count for something when he indicates that based on his visits he found “no reason to dispute” the two-thirds figure. But I would be far more convinced if Whitmire’s observations and interviews were backed up by published research. I don’t think the evidence presented by Whitmire supports his declaration that Rhee “fired too few teachers, not too many.”

Whitmire is correct that teacher quality is very important, but other factors are also relevant – such as the standards and curriculum in a district, the availability of support services and pre-K programs, access to extended learning time, levels of segregation, class size in the early grades, the quality of professional development provided to teachers, and on and on. According to Diane Ravitch’s analysis of research, teacher quality, by itself, accounts for between 10 and 20 percent of overall achievement outcomes.

Was Rhee’s the right approach to reform?

Let’s assume, however, that Whitmire is right and the central reason that D.C. performs worse than systems like New York City's is that it has a lower quality of teacher on average. Does that vindicate Rhee’s approach?

Hardly. As I pointed out in the Slate review, there are good ways and bad ways to get rid of poorly performing teachers. Peer review programs can weed out low performers in a way that is considered fair and doesn’t demoralize large segments of the teaching population. Likewise, merit pay can be structured in a way that encourages, rather than discourages, the sharing of good teaching ideas. Rhee didn't go about her program of upgrading teacher quality in the right ways.

Moreover, once a school district removes poor performers and institutes a credible system of rewarding high performers, there is still the question of how to connect the best teachers with the disadvantaged students who need them most.

In D.C., there is evidence that using Rhee’s own measure of teacher effectiveness – the IMPACT analysis – the strongest teachers are in the most affluent schools. According to The Washington Post, the District’s most affluent ward has four times as many “highly effective” teachers as the poorest ward.

Rhee instituted a good and progressive program to provide the biggest bonuses to highly effective teachers who go into higher poverty schools. But there are limits to this approach. Research finds that teachers care more about working conditions than salary, which is why bonuses have to be very large – as much as 40% of salary – to effectively keep great teachers in high poverty schools for sustained periods of time.

A more cost-effective way to connect strong teachers and low-income students is to integrate schools by economic status. That’s part of why I wish Rhee had followed through on her good and productive efforts to attract more middle-class families to the public schools with a conscious strategy of school integration that would reassure low-income families that the middle-class influx would help, not hurt, them. It’s telling that in a recent interview with Seyward Darby of The New Republic, Rhee declined to spell out a position in favor of integration. Integration is “a very tricky situation,” Rhee told Darby. “StudentsFirst is not at this point going to take a policy stance on the issue.” [StudentsFirst is Rhee's new lobbying organization.]

In his blogpost, Whitmire suggests that Rhee had to be tough on teachers because “Michelle Lite,” which he defines as “Rhee’s reforms with more cooperation and smiles,” has not produced “Rhee-like gains” in other districts. But as I noted in the Slate review, recent research by Alan Ginsburg, the former Director of Policy and Program Studies at the U.S. Department of Education, finds that in fact the two prior superintendents in D.C., Paul Vance, and Clifford Janey, produced “Rhee-like gains” without all the fireworks.

What does that do to Whitmire’s unsubstantiated theory that “Part of the resentment against Rhee in some parts of D.C. appears rooted in the fact that it took a Korean American to actually improve schools—after a long string of black schools chiefs produced no improvements”?

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By Valerie Strauss  | February 28, 2011; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Michelle Rhee, Richard Kahlenberg  | Tags:  michelle rhee, richard whitmire, school reform, slate magazine, studentsfirst, teacher assessment, the bee eater  
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Comments

A response from the author of The Bee Eater:

http://thebeeeater.com/wordpress/?p=454


I Can’t Be Reading What I’m Reading…


Rick Kahlenberg and I have a meaty four-part exchange about his review of both Michelle Rhee and my book, and Washington Post columnist Valerie Strauss decides to reprint just one part of the exchange — by Rick.

I’m a former editorial writer; I know about writing opinion. A fundamental principle of writing opinion is to engage the opposing view. Same holds for columnists.

Wait, this gets better. By linking only to the first part of my response, she makes no attempt to inform readers that this is an ongoing debate, which means Rick is allowed to get away with asserting that the gains made by Rhee were no better than the gains by two previous superintendent — an conclusion made in a “study” Kahlenberg (and a lot of others) made no attempt to vet with test experts.

Readers of the column by Strauss would also have no idea that Kahlenberg did no shoe leather reporting on D.C. schools to reach his conclusion. I contend that without visiting comparison schools in Washington’s high poverty neighborhoods — one that improved under Rhee, the other that didn’t –you will never be able to judge the impact of her reforms.

What I observed from my visits was that the improving schools had aggressive principals willing to bring in more effective teachers. Given that not all schools improved under Rhee, you’re never going to see that sitting behind a computer sifting through district-wide test data. You have to actually visit schools.

All that leads to the question I just emailed to Valerie Strauss: Please identify the D.C. schools you reported on in the last two years. When I hear back, I’ll update the blog.

Posted by: richardwhitmire | February 28, 2011 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Here's a similar review.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-thompson/respect-is-the-cornerston_b_825644.html

Posted by: johnt4853 | February 28, 2011 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Whitmire knows about writing opinion and it pervades his entire book. For an objective account of Rhee's dictatorial Rhee, read John Merrows The Influence of Teachers. To understand why she failed, read Merrow's conclusion.

Whitmire ridiculed Janey for not believing the social science of teacher effects, and yet he doesn't respond to Kalhenberg's report of the facts. Neither does he respond to Ginzburg's analysis of NAEP scores.In fact, the progress of black 4th graders' reading slowed under Rhee, as the growth in black 8th grade reading scores was reversed. Low-income and black 8th graders saw declines of two and three points between 2007 and 2009.

Under Janey, increases in NAEP Reading scores were greater, and more equally distributed. Under Rhee, gentrification seems like the best explanation for her modest improvements.

Whitmire clearly despises the union that opposed Rhee, but he makes it sound like teachers only played a supporting role in Rhee's defeat. Whitmire keeps repeating the warnings to the Korean-American chancellor, such as, "The racial politics are going to be insane. You are going to get slaughtered." Then he quoted Rhee's African-American fiancee, Kevin Johnson on why she was rejected by the black community, "If you had to boil it down to one word it would be RESPECT." (Emphasis was Johnson's.)

Had the current mayor, Vincent Gray, not been black, would he have been less upset with the string of insults that started at 11 p.m. the night before Rhee was named as chancellor? Whitmire cites Rhee's offer to John Merrow to film her firing a principal. Does the race, or even the competence, of that person matter in regard to how people are treated?

Rhee and her followers believe that data-driven accountability is the key to teacher quality and to "reform." Whitmire visited five districts where those tactics worked. But he shows no sign of witnessing the failure of those methods. I lived through the damage done by the Broad school, and saw firsthand what can happen when true believers don't listen to anyone other than their inner circle. whitmire needs to teach a little, and listen a lot, to people with very different experiences.

Posted by: johnt4853 | February 28, 2011 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Hey Richard,

I didn't follow your four-part exchange, but it was clear to me that Kahlenberg did not visit the schools: "Whitmire spent many hours visiting Washington D.C. public schools – something I have not done – and so it should count for something when he indicates that based on his visits he found “no reason to dispute” the two-thirds figure. But I would be far more convinced if Whitmire’s observations and interviews were backed up by published research."

Looks like he clearly addresses this point to me.

And BTW what's the question you emailed Strauss?

Posted by: DHume1 | February 28, 2011 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Whitmire's visits only count if he comments objectively and doesn't twist the truth to fit his agenda and theory. Having watched his performance at Politics and Prose I can honestly say that he has not done this. Mr. Kahlenberg cites Whitmire stating that 2/3 of the teachers in DC need to be fired and that he states this without giving any evidence. He does not give evidence because he got this tidbit from Rhee herself - this was one of her mantras in the speeches she gave across the country. Whitmire doesn't need evidence, all he needs is Rhee making the statement and that is proof enough. Just as he discounts anything that refutes the proof he offers. He is not interested in the truth, he is interested in his take on the on truth, something that is very much connected to the selling of his book. At Politics and Prose he stated that Michelle Rhee fired teachers only at schools that dropped in scores. He ignores the fact that she fired the principal of Oyster Adams, a blue ribbon school that made AYP every year until after Guzman was fired (they have not made AYP since); that she fired a third of the staff of Stoddard in 2009 after they JUMPED in scores; that she didn't touch certain principals at other schools because she placed them there despite their school dropping in scores. It just goes on. The hypocrisy is evident to anyone willing to look honestly at the evidence. Only those who still believe in the messiah Rhee refuse to listen or see.

Posted by: adcteacher1 | February 28, 2011 8:59 AM | Report abuse

This is an interesting opinion. But, there are many flaws in it. That being said, there are also many flaws in those who support Rhee like reforms. Both views tout research to support their positions. However, research is skewed in so many ways in American education. And unfortunately it is being used by both reformers and traditionalists to make their points in an effort to dictate policy, not help students.

As an educator in DCPS and formerly in another district I can unequivocally tell you that the teaching in DC has by far been horrible overall. Many of the teachers lack the content knowledge to do the job as evidenced by our collaborations. There are far too many teacher absences. There are no common assessments or student targets. And students do not receive the intervention they need in the lower grade levels before they fall too far behind for higher grade level teachers to support them.

DC is in denial and the politicians do not push the community to do more for their children. Rather than have high expectations, politicians often force superintendents to push policies that socially promote ill-prepared students, and the dominos begin to roll.

But, DCPS also doesn't have curriculum, content specialists, trained department chairs or developing leaders programs. Professional development has been too linked to IMPACT instead of improving student learning through literacy. And too much fear has been instilled in the schools instead of support and growth. Many administrators lack the skill set to lead schools or provide instructional feedback and support and thus they lose the faith of the faculty. There is no definitive way to link these factors to research because one's opinion of a highly effective administrator and/or even teacher is not normed. And if we haven't defined what an effective administrator/teacher must know and be able to do then we certainly can't deduce the effects of a great teacher vs. an ineffective one. Researchers will argue this. But, then they make their money on research.

One thing is for sure that needn't any research to support. A school that has student outcomes defined with curriculum to match and quality teachers to inspire and move students is going to perform better then a school that doesn't- common sense. Add to this a highly involved parent community who share a common set of core values and there will be an even deeper impact on student success.

The truth is a great school with high performers is sort of like a great diet. There are many different ways to lose weight and get in shape. For example, a school that has support programs, intervention for students who fall behind, great teachers and strong curricula can make up for ineffective home life and poverty. Conversely, a school with poor teachers, can be overcome with supportive parents who tutor their students and are involved in their lives.

What makes students perform at high levels simply isn't black and white. It never has been!

Posted by: teacher6402 | February 28, 2011 9:14 AM | Report abuse

"A more cost-effective way to connect strong teachers and low-income students is to integrate schools by economic status. "

Applied bluntly, it's also a more effective way to destroy the school experience, and devastating when parents have the option to leave the system by moving to better school districts a few miles away. A much better approach is to allow students to attend classes at the highest pace which they are capable of, not force them into age-grouped messes.

One way Fairfax County has of making a bad school look good is to open a GT center in a school that has low scores. This gets the average scores for the school up and gives the hard working kids in the under performing school a way to access instruction that is at their level.
However, if you haven't managed basic school safety issues, there's not a lot of hope for success.

There will always be kids that haven't seen a book before they get to school, but that doesn't mean you put them in the same kindergarten class with everyone else, or that you even expect them to have "caught up" by third grade. Surely, some of the kids with little early prep will be smart enough to catch up or move ahead, while others with lots of early prep will slow down, but that doesn't mean we're all the same.

The goal of schooling is not to make everyone equal and remove "achievement gaps". The goal is to get everyone performing the best they can. As long as race or gender obsessed folks continue to whine about the achievement gap, we'll continue to mire ourselves in meaningless statistics and waste time moving kids around for no good reason.

Posted by: staticvars | February 28, 2011 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Kahlenberg, I believe in economically integrated schools; I moved so that my children could attend one. But here are some facts: 40- plus percent of children are low income by school lunch figures (of course, that hides the vast difference between children who are destitute versus children of solid working class families with several kids). In our larger metro areas, the very poor children are highly concentrated and far from the wealthy kids. And, middle class families abandon schools that reach a tipping point of poor kids (or minority kids). That tipping point is often far short of 40%. So the actual number of poor kids who can be helped by this method is ???? Some, but not enough. Not that we shouldn't use this remedy where possible, but it's a pipe dream to think it will get every poor child into a high-performing school.

Posted by: jane100000 | February 28, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

richardwhitmire: "Valerie Strauss decides to reprint just one part of the exchange"

Welcome to Strauss' world Richard! Val has an ideological point of view, and she's NOT interested in posting (or linking) ANYTHING that contradicts it. There will be no debate here.

I know you criticize the Post coverage of Rhee/DCPS in your book. You left Strauss out (probably not knowing she even existed), but she is by far the laziest and sloppiest of them all.

Also you ask: "Valerie Strauss: Please identify the D.C. schools you reported on in the last two years."

Oh please, that would mean doing some actual reporting. Val doesn't do that!

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

adcteacher1: I suggest you read the Post investigative report "Fixing DC's Schools".

From the Washington Post report:

"Staff problems go beyond how teachers are deployed. Citywide, fewer than half of core courses are taught by teachers who are considered "highly qualified" in their subject, which requires that they have earned a degree or passed a competency test in that subject. Nationally, the numbers are worse in only one state -- Alaska. In most states, the figure was over 90 percent."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/09/AR2007060901415.html

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 10:51 AM | Report abuse

adcteacher1: After you read the Post investigative report, I'd suggest you read Whitmire's book. It's not exactly what you've convinced yourself it is, and criticizing his views while not bothering to read them is just plain stupid.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

My post over at talkingpoints:

Richard has been acting strange. He went off on a bender at Politics and Prose last Sunday afternoon, later attacking "Rhee-haters" as he calls them , for not answering a question he never asked.
Richard has also compared those who suspected (and now we all know) that Michelle Rhee lied about her time in Baltimore where she performed her "Baltimore Miracle" to "birthers".
Well, unlike the "birthers", the Rhee skeptics have her "birth certificate" that show she lied when
she claimed that she took 63 of her 70 students from scoring at the 13th percentile on the CTBS to scoring at the 90th percentile.

In his book, Richard failed to write anything about Brian Betts.
Richard left out the need to get back at Patrick Pope, the principal of Hardy Middle School, for pulling his school out of Michelle's Capital Gains program to pay students for great grades. Richard didn't even report on the failure of the Capital Gains program.
Richard didn't point out that under Rhee, the achievement gap between races widen due to the better performance of whites and asians. The performance of the African American students didn't increase. (The NAEP test)
Richard did not mention that at Sousa Middle School, the test scores increased dramatically during the first year of Dwan Jordon as principal and that Mr. Jordon responded by getting rid of the teachers responsible. The next year, the increases were more modest.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | February 28, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Several things are not illuminated here: how did Whitmore come up with the two-thirds figure? How did Rhee or anyone else conclude that her methods were or were not successful? How were "bad" teachers identified without a consistent method of evaluation? I heard Rhee interviewed by Michelle Martin. Martin asked Rhee how "bad" teachers can be made "good" and how "good" can be made "great. No answer. Just a statement that maybe not everyone "can do this job." We need some 3 million teachers in the US. Where will
they come from?

Posted by: mcnyc | February 28, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Whitmire's research for the book on Miss Rhee is lacking.
He managed to miss the UMBC report which was online and available to the Washington Times' Gary Emerling.
Richard also missed evaluating Miss Rhee's resume with its broad claims of success and acclaim from new media.
In an email to me, he wanted to quote me for an article for edweek in which he was going to examine the "birther" like examination to Miss Rhee's resume. I passed his email message without IDing him to a couple of others, seeing if they wanted to talk with a journalist.
When Mr. Whitmire was told or realized that my online name comes from the famous Raymond Chandler detective, he became irate and dropped the column.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | February 28, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Kahlenberg wrote: "That’s part of why I wish Rhee had followed through on her good and productive efforts to attract more middle-class families to the public schools"

Rhee tried, but DC is a city steeped in ugly, divisive, racial politics. Any effort to attract more middle-class families to DC public schools is portrayed as an attempt to attract white families. And that just gets the race warmongers all stirred up.

It was a huge no-win situation. Even though it might have been the right thing to do, Rhee made a big mistake in taking on this issues at all.

As Whitmire notes in his book, Rhee was warned: "The racial politics are going to be insane. You are going to get slaughtered."

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe is Orly Taitz! Or perhaps the fool Guy Brandenburg (a former WTU negotiator). I was at Politics & Prose keeping a close eye on things, so I can probably sort this out.

Anyway, you and your fellow WTU Rhee-haters did a really good job of embarrassing yourselves at Politics & Prose. After Whitmire's talk (which was quite non-bender like) I overheard a neighbor asking who that small group of freaks were. We usually don't get clowns like you at our local bookstore.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

frankb1,
As it was noted on eduwonk by Andrew Rotherham, great minds discuss ideas.
Here, we have you discussing people, rather than the idea of honesty.
And so the projection- the others, the "Rhee-haters" are the closed minded.

Frankb1, save yourself the time and effort and just type,
"In my heart, I know she's right."

PS( Guy posts as TexasIke).

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | February 28, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"I WAS THERE"
frankb1 assures us.
So was Bob Somerby.
His take on the book and P&P:


I’ve finished the book, and I thought there were several parts that turned out to be worth reading.

On the whole, though, it may be the most sycophantic book I’ve ever read, right down to its first-name-basis approach to Rhee. By the eighth page of the preface, Whitmire is sharing what he calls “my favorite Michelle story.” The story ends with Whitmire noting, “One more thing; she looked great in that ball gown.”

I would recommend reading the book just because it’s so sycophantic. It represents a chance to come to terms with what is almost a new form of literature.

“Not a single person had any thoughts on why low-income African American kids in DC are as much as two years behind comparable kids in other urban areas?” I was at the book event. No one was asked to offer their thoughts on that matter, which represents an actual question about the DC schools as compared to NY and Boston, though not as compared to all other big-city systems.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | February 28, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

"I WAS THERE" wrote frankb1.
So was The InnerLight:
The Q&A portion of the night is when things got truly interesting, if only because it took Whitmire off his tired chanting routine of the wonders of Michelle and actually put him on the defensive regarding his questionable use of facts in the book. The first interesting thing that Whitmire did was to put out his watch and claim that there was only 20 minutes for Q&A. He suggested that this was the policy of the bookstore but having been a long-time habitue of Politics and Prose I know this is not the case. I have been there on nights when the Q&A has been a lively affair lasting for as much as an hour. The night they had Michael Moore they actually locked the doors and allowed people to continue talking with him while he signed books. As can be imagined there were a number of people there who did not share Whitmire’s adulation of his subject. Several DC teachers took to the mike and tried to confront Whitmire about the reported facts in his book – noting that the teachers were fired under a reduction in force move, not because of performance; the lie to the numbers in terms of test scores; refuting his claims that the only schools that failed had teachers dismissed (if that were so then why did Michelle Rhee fire teachers at Stoddard the same year they jumped in scores on the DC CAS? Why did she fire a principal as successful as Maria Guzman at Oyster-Adams – a designated blue ribbon school right up to the time Guzman was ousted, something that Oyster hasn’t achieved since)? But this was how the Q&A went: an audience member would come to the microphone and try to frame their question and Whitmire would then badger them to get to the question while mentioning the time and others in line who wanted to ask questions, then he would rephrase the question to better suit the answer he wanted to give and condescendingly dismiss the questioner. At one point he mentioned the fact that he had worked at the Pentagon and this was how they often got through a difficult question at press briefings, they would simply yell out “question, question” to the crowd and take a new question.

When it came to dealing with the facts that refuted his own Whitmire came up short in his answers. He would often say “the data is in the book” or “that’s in the book” as if the fact that this information was printed and published made it irrefutable. When people brought up the firing of teachers and Rhee’s comment about firing “teachers who sexually abused children” he hemmed and hawed and waffled and tried to mitigate what she said while people in the audience shouted out to him the truth. At one point Pete Tucker, the journalist for The Fight Back, came to the mike and asked Whitmire what would be the difference if Michelle Rhee had written this biography because, as he (Tucker) saw it, there would be no difference. He went on to say that The Bee Eater should sit in the fiction section of Politics and Prose.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | February 28, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I WAS THERE
InnerLight continued:


For myself what was so remarkable about this event was its one-sidedness. At most P&P events the Q&A portion is a wonderful dialogue between the readers of a particular book and the creator of that book. It is an ongoing discussion that reveals things to both the writer and the reader. I have seen writers develop a new insight to their work through this dialogue, a new perspective on their subject that they hadn’t considered before, or a deeper way of looking at their subject. That was not so with Whitmire. His Q&A was kept to a time limit and limited to questions only as a way of controlling the discussion and not allowing any view other than that of Whitmire’s to be heard. At one point he repeatedly yelled “what is the question?, the question!” at one person on the mike trying to make their point (the audience, clearly exasperated by both the questioner and Whitmire began shouting out “just ask the question!”).

As a way of controlling the discussion it had an effect of stunting and frustrating the audience. Many were clearly, and audibly, aligned with the questioners and their disbelief at some of Whitmire’s responses could be heard in audible sighs and outright groans. Afterwards there was a lively discussion among several people, parents of students in DCPS, teachers, Pete Tucker and others about the absurdity of the event as well as the inadequacy of most of Whitmire’s answers.

Much of Whitmire’s way of controlling things was reflective of how Michelle Rhee, and many of the so-called “reformers”, deal with people and situations. They prefer a one-sided event where discussion is kept to people asking questions and they, Rhee or whoever, have the answers. Input is asked for after the decision is made (making input irrelevant but that is exactly the idea), which is exactly how Michelle Rhee dealt with the Hardy parents over the dismissal of Patrick Pope and how she dealt with teachers regarding the building of her ground-breaking contract. Discussion has to be controlled lest an opposing view or the truth happen to get through. We must trust them in the information they have. It’s in the book, after all.

What Michelle Rhee and Richard Whitmire practice is a form of intellectual tyranny.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | February 28, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe: And who is Bob Somerby? I've never heard of him. Was he the young guy you were conspiring with in a corner of the bookstore before the event? The kid that "went off on a bender" when the crowd told him to sit down and shut up?

Whitmire did ask "why low-income African American kids in DC are as much as two years behind comparable kids in other urban areas", but i think it was a rhetorical question.

Do you understand the concept of an author Q&A at a bookstore? That Richard was there to promote (and sell) his book? That he's on a book tour doing these talks a few times a week? Do you get to bookstores much?

I noticed you didn't go up after the event to talk with Whitmire (or even bother to shake his hand). You were at Politics & Prose to put on a show. Richard was pretty classy, you were not.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

With the backing of the mayor and the philanthropists, Michelle Rhee could have rewarded the very best teachers in the district while combing the country for the best qualified new hirees. She could have dismissed ineffective teachers by following due process rules and helped struggling teachers by providing them with mentors. Instead, she fired indiscriminately (her admission) while hiring inexperienced people from the agency that she founded; and she insulted the teachers she had. This says it all for me.

Why did she do this? A review of history will provide the answers. During very tough economic times, people start to fight over limited resources. With Wall Street type jobs no longer available to Ms. Rhee and her kind, they decided to go after previously untouchable K-12 tax money. Knowing that the middle-class would fight this tooth and nail, they went after schools in poor communities. By doing this, the corporate types (Rhee et al) were able to realize huge salaries (without going near a child), while their affluent but younger counterparts could get TFA jobs until something better came along.

The saddest aspect of this whole situation is the fact that when the projected teacher shortage comes along (after all the baby boomers have retired), no highly qualified people will want to work in DC. Once again the city will be desperate for teachers and all teachers will get "highly effective" on their evaluations. There will no longer be women without career options to fill these positions.

Teachers will remember Rhee and the District of Columbia.

As for Whitmire, teachers will probably not want to buy his book.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 28, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

frankb1,
Great Minds discuss ideas.
So, honesty is off the table for you.
OK

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | February 28, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe: STUPID LIE #1

"The first interesting thing that Whitmire did was to put out his watch and claim that there was only 20 minutes for Q&A. He suggested that this was the policy of the bookstore but having been a long-time habitue of Politics and Prose I know this is not the case."

Tracy Fuller Atwood (the store manager) set the terms of the talk, not Richard.

Tracy's spiel (introducing authors) at Politics & Prose is always the same, and as she says in the audio link below "the drill" is always the same.

Listen to audio from the recent Amy Chua Podcast:

http://www.politics-prose.com/blog/multimedia

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 1:21 PM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe: STUPID LIE #2

"I have been there on nights when the Q&A has been a lively affair lasting for as much as an hour. The night they had Michael Moore they actually locked the doors and allowed people to continue talking with him while he signed books."

Again the format P&P uses is always the same (they sell podcasts of the author "talks" and they want to keep them all about the same length). Richard actually went way over the Q&A time allotment.

Richard continued to have conversations with anyone that approach him after his "talk". He signed books as well. He stayed for more than an hour, until the last audience members trickled away.

As I noted before, no one from your WTU group approach him after the Q&A was over.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 1:35 PM | Report abuse

LRT:

History--the bad mortgage tsunami didn't hit Wall Street until a year after Rhee became chancellor in the summer of 2007. Sure, in July of 2007 things were pretty bleak if you were a real estate agent in Modesto or Las Vegas, but the investment banks were still sailing along on their shallow sea of diluted risk.

Projected teacher shortage--If the Rust Belt governors succeed in kneecapping the public unions, there will be plenty of experienced teachers available to move to DC and other strong-union states (such as your own).

Posted by: gardyloo | February 28, 2011 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Whitmire:

Ms. Strauss' blog is not about "shoe leather reporting." It is certainly not about ferreting out facts.

It is about reprinting opinions that support your own, plain and simple.

Posted by: Oneder | February 28, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe: "But this was how the Q&A went: an audience member would come to the microphone and try to frame their question and Whitmire would then badger them to get to the question while mentioning the time and others in line who wanted to ask questions, then he would rephrase the question to better suit the answer he wanted to give and condescendingly dismiss the questioner."

You don't seem to get that it wasn't your talk, it was his. I know your WTU group wanted to put on a big show, but that doesn't mean he has to just let you take over the whole thing.

You're probably used to shouting people down and intimidating them until you get your way. It did work this time because the crowd at P&P wouldn't tolerate it. They came to hear from Whitmire, not from you.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 1:50 PM | Report abuse

You are really on a bender here, frankb1.
Miss Rhee seems to have escaped your scorn for liars.

But you phrase your dodge's very nicely and create so many strawmen I 'm ready to call the fire department in case you burst into flames.
"Tracy Fuller Atwood (the store manager) set the terms of the talk, not Richard."

Notice that you do not deny Richard said anything about time limits.

Five people have reported a different view of the event than you.
If you were Jesus, I'd take your word.
But you're human and 5 other humans present a different view than you.

Come on frankb1, get your comrades to post here, defending your view of P&P.

Also, I don't live in a black and white world.
It's curious that given your parent(s) was(were) a teacher, that they taught you to divide people and ideas into enemies-
Rhee-Haters, ergo, WTU members, shouters
versus
the peace loving,education reform minded people like you.

Come spend a few days in a school and then report back in black and white terms.


Posted by: phillipmarlowe | February 28, 2011 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Frankb says, "I overheard a neighbor asking who that small group of freaks were. We usually don't get clowns like you at our local bookstore."

Yeah, right, and I overheard a neighbor saying "who's that creepy-looking guy, scratching himself and scowling all the questioners."

Why would anyone believe what you said you overheard someone else saying?

Posted by: efavorite | February 28, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe: STUPID LIE #3

"At one point Pete Tucker, the journalist for The Fight Back, came to the mike and asked Whitmire what would be the difference if Michelle Rhee had written this biography because, as he (Tucker) saw it, there would be no difference. He went on to say that The Bee Eater should sit in the fiction section of Politics and Prose."

Wow. Yes Tucker did ask that question, and then gave his own answer.

Richard in reply noted that he overheard Tucker tell another WTU person before the talk that "The Bee Eater should sit in the fiction section of Politics and Prose."

I'm not surprised you don't include Whitmire's reply to the question, after all you didn't come to hear from him.

Whitmire's reply was interesting. He said he was at an event with Rhee recently and a reporter asked a similar question. Her reply was that she would have written the book from the students perspective: interviewing and quoting students from DCPS, and not so much the adults (as Richard had done). He said that would be a interesting, worthwhile book for someone to write.

After that, Tucker tried to ask additional questions. Richard asked politely that he let others in line get a chance. That didn't stop Tucker, but then the crowd weighed in and shut him down.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe: If I post the full audio from the Whitmire event as proof, would you then take my word for it?

Or, we could let the blogosphere decide (after listening to the full podcast) who is lying, and who is telling the truth.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

frankb1,

Stupid lie #3 isn't even a lie at all. Try to be consistent, Frank.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 28, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

@"phillipmarlowe: If I post the full audio from the Whitmire event as proof, would you then take my word for it?"

Of course.
As I pointed out, I don't live in black and white, that there are only two sides to a story. That's McNeill-Lehrer world (google tedium twins), not mine.
Hopefully, you're not like that. Right now, there are 6 sides to the P&P story, and 5 collaborate each other.

Unfortunately, I'd say Michelle Rhee is when she's on display.
When she drops her guard, like talking about her daughters' soccer achievement being the result of their heritage and not the coach's fault, the truth seeps out.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | February 28, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

DHume1; "Stupid lie #3 isn't even a lie at all. Try to be consistent, Frank."

phillipmarlowe wrote: "He went on to say that The Bee Eater should sit in the fiction section of Politics and Prose."

I assume "he" is Tucker, right?

Tucker didn't say that, Whitmire did. So maybe not a lie, but still untrue.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse

frankb1,

Uh Frank, your own post confirms that this Tucker character said those words:"Richard in reply noted that he overheard Tucker tell another WTU person before the talk that 'The Bee Eater should sit in the fiction section of Politics and Prose.'"

The only part that is in contention is when those words were said. This situation has nothing to do with an untruth or a lie or whatever you want to call it. It's just really lame.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 28, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Linda/RetiredTeacher: "As for Whitmire, teachers will probably not want to buy his book."

They don't have to buy it, but it would be a shame if teachers didn't read Whitmire's book.

Do you think I shouldn't read Diane Ravitch book, "The Death and Life of the Great American School System", because of something negative I might have read about her? Or because I might disagree with her on some things?

I would hope teachers (and non-teachers) would read lots of books, particularly ones that might challenge the conventional wisdom of those around us.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 4:31 PM | Report abuse

DHume--

I concur.

Therefore, philipmarlowe's pants are not on fire as much as they could be.

Posted by: gardyloo | February 28, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Ok...enough on P&P.

Is Richard Whitmire coming back? Will Valerie Strauss break a cardinal rule and make an appearance in the comment section? Did she respond to Whitmire's e-mail?

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 4:58 PM | Report abuse

frankb1,

I don't know, Frank. But I somehow doubt that she will. He never really asked a question to begin with. It was more like a polite imperative. And, to be honest, I think most people already know the implied answer to his implied, unasked question.

BTW, shouldn't the conversation be directed at Kahlenberg anyway?

Posted by: DHume1 | February 28, 2011 5:14 PM | Report abuse

QUESTION FOR RICHARD WHITMIRE

Please settle a recent Post comment section dispute about your book. Was your criticism of the Post limited or broad in scope?

Jay Mathews claims criticism of the Post in The Bee Eater was quite limited.

Jay Mathews wrote: Please note that Whitmire's point in his book is that the Post was too hard on Rhee and gave too much space to her critics in the last few months before the election.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | February 15, 2011 1:54 PM

My reading of The Bee Eater suggests the criticism of the Post was quite broad.

frankb1 wrote in reply to Jay Mathews:

Yes, several pages in the book are devoted to those issues.

But Whitmire's criticism was much broader that that! The reproach was as much about the overall depth and substance of Post reporting as anything else.

Excepts from The Bee Eater:

Page 4: "Occasionally, the newspaper launched an impressive series on DC school boilers not working, a baffling inability to count the number of students within its own system, or teachers absconding with student activities money. But the important issue - whether and why academic achievement in DC lagged well behind cities with similar student populations - was rarely explored."

Page 67: "What wasn't reported, however, was the attitude within the system, which was best summed up in the message of the sign Rhee's team discovered at Slowe Elementary: we're doing the best we can with the flawed children sent our way."

Page 180: "The Washington Post's Metro section...rarely looked at the less glamorous side of what was happening within schools."

Whitmire was also critical of the quality of the reporting:

Page 182: "On a few occasions, the reporting was more than just puzzling." Questioning the veracity of an important story Bill Turque wrote on test scores, Whitmore noted that "the Post still had not issued a correction or clarification on that story."

In summation Whitmire concluded:

Page 186: "The Washington Post has turned in many "finest hours" of reporting. Its coverage of Rhee was not among them."

Posted by: frankb1 | February 15, 2011 10:50 PM

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 5:19 PM | Report abuse

DHume1: No, Whitmire did ask a question:

"All that leads to the question I just emailed to Valerie Strauss: Please identify the D.C. schools you reported on in the last two years. When I hear back, I’ll update the blog."

It may have been rhetorical, but I'd love to know the answer to that question.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Education Next Book Club: Richard Whitmire’s The Bee Eater Podcast

http://educationnext.org/ed-next-book-club-richard-whitmires-the-bee-eater/

In this podcast, Mike Petrilli talks with Richard about Michelle’s upbringing, the reforms she brought to Washington, her successes, and the racial politics that led to her downfall.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 5:40 PM | Report abuse

frankb1,


Do you have asbergers or something? I've noticed that you have trouble seeing what is right in front of you when it comes to Whitmire. Hmmm.

Rhetorical or not, what Whitmire wrote is NOT an interrogative sentence. There's no question, Frank. Nothing. That's why I wanted clarification with it. We, the readers, must take his imperative sentence and transpose it into a question to correctly probe for implications or consequences so as to implicitly attack Strauss's quasi-reporter ethos. But she's not really a reporter now anyway, so the whole question thing is rather pointless, Frank.


Posted by: DHume1 | February 28, 2011 5:52 PM | Report abuse

frankb1,
Great to see pages and quotes; once again, please provide the quotes from Rhee that show her students increasing from barely reading sight words to reading chapter books. She stated she relied on her principal when she stated how much she increased their scores. An increase of 13% to 90% would have been dramatic, even an increase of 23% to 45% would have shown significant improvement in visible academic skills and classroom behavior.

I have put his book is on hold at my local library, but in the meantime could you please post this information? Afterall she states she puts students first, and that she would write her biography from the students' perspective. So...what great stories did she share with Richard that demonstrated not eating bees or taping mouths shut, but instead showed how much her kids loved school after being taught by her? How they loved reading when they couldn't previously; how they finally understood number sense etc. etc.

I believe this is at least the third thread I have asked this of you, and you have yet to provide any quotes on this aspect.

Posted by: researcher2 | February 28, 2011 6:11 PM | Report abuse

A quick content scan of this thread suggests that phill. marl. (are those aliases true??) is the most upset he's ever been in these pages. Not good to upset him. No one's got a corner on the fact or opinion concerning DCPS and its teachers in particular. That helps the anti-change crowd, as inconclusiveness and chaos presents a barrier to change. But who likes the present quality of education provided by DCPS? It is interesting that 3/4 of RW's messages were not printed; what does the columnist have to fear?

Who has a video or audio track of the P&P appearance by Whitmire?

Posted by: axolotl | February 28, 2011 6:12 PM | Report abuse

DHume1 is absolutely right. VS is not a reporter.

She is an aggregator of opinions that match her so-called "ideology." Question is, what is her expertise and domain knowledge of education? In Matthews's case, he's been clear on the extent of his ed knowledge and experience as a commentator and analyst.

Posted by: axolotl | February 28, 2011 6:16 PM | Report abuse

DHume1 is absolutely right. VS is not a reporter.

She is an aggregator of opinions that match her so-called "ideology." Question is, what is her expertise and domain knowledge of education? In Matthews's case, he's been clear on the extent of his ed knowledge and experience as a commentator and analyst.

Posted by: axolotl | February 28, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

QUESTION FOR RICHARD WHITMIRE

In The Bee Eater you note that DCPS records (2010-2011 school year) show there are only 180 TFA recruits teaching in DCPS.

Also in the book you write that "DCPS record showed 2,318 teachers with a start date prior to June 2007 and 1918 with a start date after that."

What can you tell us about these three groups of teachers?

1) Popular myth has it that Rhee hired only young inexperienced teachers (just out of college) to replace mostly older, senior teachers. The 180 number is treated with great skepticism by Rhee critics. What does your reporting suggest?

2) I'll assume the 2,318 teachers with a start date prior to June 2007 are all tenured. How many of these teachers have been with DCPS 10+ 15+ 20+ years? And of this group of tenured teachers, how many do you think are ineffective? Are the 737 IMPACT lowest performing teachers (now on the chopping block) mostly in this group?

3) Of the 1918 teachers with a start date after June 2007, how many are tenured? Did Rhee hire most of this group? Were new teachers hired mostly from other school systems/districts? Where else did this group of teachers come from and why were they drawn to DCPS? How many from this group do you think are ineffective?

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 6:27 PM | Report abuse

researcher2: Sorry for the delay. I'll start work on it right away.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 6:34 PM | Report abuse

axolotl: "Who has a video or audio track of the P&P appearance by Whitmire?"

Politics & Prose is making me an audio CD of the entire fracas. Once I get it from them, I will work on posting a podcast. Unfortunately it might take a few days, and people will probably have lost all interest in the subject.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 6:43 PM | Report abuse

In an interview with Larry Ferlazzo...

Valerie Strauss says:

"What do I hope a reader will get out of it? I hope they learn something and stretch their thinking. I do every day, not only through my own research but through the various guest writers I host on the blog. I include other writers — including some with whom I don’t agree — because I think it broadens the blog, invites richer discussion, and, I hope, makes the blog more interesting."

http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2010/10/01/interview-of-the-month-washington-post-journalist-valerie-strauss/

I think it is the only interview Strauss has ever done. She's trying very hard to sound fair and balanced.

And isn't it odd Val never responds to any comments? Does any other blogger have that policy?

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 7:03 PM | Report abuse

frankb1--have made this comment to colleague efav. when she shows anxiety about the influence of the WaPo: it is declining fast, by any measure, including readership, ad sales, and the obvious plunging quality of the news coverage. As a national voice on anything, it is rarely heard, as it rarely has something in the way or a news scoop or outstanding opinion writing.

That said, the paper carries more column inches devoted to public ed than the NYT or WSJ on an avg weekday, or so it seems. But when these two papers do a news article on public ed, it is head and shoulders above the quality one finds in the WaPo news sections. (The WSJ news sections are objective to the extreme, while the NYT and WaPo are letting opinion creep in to its news articles.)

As for WP columnists, we are stuck with what we have, for good sometimes and for bad frequently. As the Post seems to have no editors riding honcho on anything, especially .com, the balance of news item sources or opinion space given to diverse opinions is usually wayyy off. But there are so many other sources, why worry about it?

Posted by: axolotl | February 28, 2011 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Rhee will NEVER shake her narcissism and divisive character. Effective school leaders do not lie on their resumes, eat insects, use masking tape on students’ mouths, blame their subordinates, cook-up test scores, use sarcastic language, manipulate the media, and display retaliatory tendencies. Rhee’s supporters will need more than union bashing and phony test scores to promote the fraudulent education entrepreneurs and for-profit defunct management groups like Education Alternatives Inc (EAI).

How does Oprah’s network, MSNBC, CNN, Microsoft, Wal-mart, Broad Foundation, Gates Foundation and the US Department of Education handle fraudulent resumes?

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | February 28, 2011 7:45 PM | Report abuse

axolotl: "But there are so many other sources, why worry about it?"

I agree the Post gave up on being a "national newspaper" years ago. If you want to read about what's going on in the world, or around the country, you don't read the Post.

But as Richard Whitmire points out in his book, we are primarily a one local news source town. The Post matters a great deal on the local front. We need the Post to do a better job reporting on what's happening here in the DC metro area. Other local media outlets don't have the resources, so they just follow the Post's lead.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 8:14 PM | Report abuse

QUESTION FOR RICHARD WHITMIRE

In 2007, the Post provided readers a DCPS searchable database which included all Schedule A Personnel Data from 2006-2007. For instance here's a list of all 2006-2007 staff at Key Elementary (and total compensation).

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/dcschools/63/staff/

The Post hasn't updated its searchable database since 2006-2007. Is DCPS Schedule A Personnel Data from 2010-2111 posted on the DCPS website, or anywhere else? Would the Post be able to access that data easily, and then update their DCPS searchable database?

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 8:21 PM | Report abuse

To Richard Whitmire:

You wrote:

"I’m a former editorial writer; I know about writing opinion. A fundamental principle of writing opinion is to engage the opposing view. Same holds for columnists."

In order to engage the opposing view, you might open up your own Bee Eater blog to comments.

Posted by: ocisab | February 28, 2011 8:55 PM | Report abuse

frankb1--agree, but I put little stock in most Post news reporting, especially local. It usually reads like a high school paper, with indiscriminate stream of consciousness. One can infer the critical questions were unasked. No one would pay online for this content, unlike the NYT or WSJ. I realize in a near-vacuum , one could just grab the latest "news," but that does not mean one should trust it. Who knows a lot of people who trust the Post's local reporting, on any kind of issue?

Posted by: axolotl | February 28, 2011 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I agree with ocisab:
Open Whitmire's bee eating blog for comments. Allow teachers and administrators with opposing views to make remarks and express opinions about Rhee's dysfunctional misadventures in the for-profit corporate education industry.

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | February 28, 2011 9:22 PM | Report abuse

ocisab & nfsbrrpkk: "Open Whitmire's bee eating blog for comments"

But would you agree to at least read his book first, before making comments about it on his blog?

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Kahlenberg writes: "Whitmire’s unsubstantiated theory that “Part of the resentment against Rhee in some parts of D.C. appears rooted in the fact that it took a Korean American to actually improve schools—after a long string of black schools chiefs produced no improvements”?

Mr. Kahlenberg, you must live in NYC, not DC.

Divisive racial politics are pursued with greater intensity in DC than in any city in the US. The fact that Fenty appointed a non-black person for the school chancellor's job was a huge issue from day one for a large segment of DC's political class, DCPS employees and the general population.

Rhee was the victim of ugly racial slurs on a daily basis while working at DCPS.

Ask yourself, all other thing being equal, would the politics of reform have work out differently if Rhee had been African American and not Korean American?

Posted by: frankb1 | February 28, 2011 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Whitmire had this delightful line near the end of his chapter on Dunbar:
"Nobody has a surefire way of improving urban high schools"

Gee, I thought Miss Rhee did/does?

Guess not.

Posted by: edlharris | February 28, 2011 10:16 PM | Report abuse

@RichardWhitmire:"Rick Kahlenberg and I have a meaty four-part exchange about his review of both Michelle Rhee and my book, and Washington Post columnist Valerie Strauss decides to reprint just one part of the exchange — by Rick.

I’m a former editorial writer; I know about writing opinion. A fundamental principle of writing opinion is to engage the opposing view. Same holds for columnists."

It's not difficult to go to the link Rick provided and find the response of Richard Whitmire.
For some reason, probably the same affliction that Michelle Rhee and Sarah Palin have for attention, Richard Whitmire is upset that Ms, Strauss did not post his meanderings.
What about me? wails the siren of Arlington.
What schools have you visited, whines Poor Richard.
I'll take this from the real Poor Richard:
"He that speaks much, is much mistaken."

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | February 28, 2011 10:37 PM | Report abuse

@frankb1:"Divisive racial politics are pursued with greater intensity in DC than in any city in the US. The fact that Fenty appointed a non-black person for the school chancellor's job was a huge issue from day one for a large segment of DC's political class, DCPS employees and the general population.

Rhee was the victim of ugly racial slurs on a daily basis while working at DCPS."

A large segment? Which one? Names and dates please.

Victim of ugly slurs? You were there? Names and dates, please.

I see that Miss Rhee's veracity is still off the table for frankb1.
Understandable.
It is so much easier to "insult" people and denigrate their ideas by calling them "haters", "birthers" or WTU thugs.

Great minds discuss ideas like veracity and integrity.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | February 28, 2011 10:48 PM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe wrote: "A large segment? Which one? Names and dates please."

From Askia Muhummad:

"But those perceptions were marred by perception that he put White appointees in top positions, even where qualified Black candidates were available.."

In 2007, after just six months in office, for example, Mr. Fenty had replaced four competent Black officials with Whites in high profile jobs—city administrator, police chief, fire chief, and school administrator Michelle Rhee, who is of Korean descent."

http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/National_News_2/article_7322.shtml

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 8:43 AM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe wrote: "A large segment? Which one? Names and dates please."

From the Washington Post:

Color of Cabinet Has Fenty on the Defensive; Some Residents Give Latitude, but Others Say Lack of Blacks Doesn't Reflect City

The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Author: David Nakamura Yolanda Woodlee; Hamil R Harris - Washington Post Staff Writers Date: Jul 3, 2007

"How can there be a scarcity of blacks for positions in the city with the most qualified black people in the world?" asked Carlos M. O'Kieffe Sr., 63, a black Ward 4 resident who voted for [Adrian M. Fenty]. "If you can't find qualified black people in Washington, D.C. . . . it makes me wonder: How hard did he really search?"

"It's an issue of visibility and trust in a city where race matters," said [Nicoleau], who recently left her job at the Public Education Network. "Race matters in this case for another reason. There's an element of shame in this system because it is [predominantly] black and has the money it needs but still can't produce results. People hold a private shame because they have not been able to self-govern. They may not want her to succeed as an Asian American."

http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washingtonpost/access/1298570651.html?FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Jul+3,+2007&author=David+Nakamura+Yolanda+Woodlee;Hamil+R+Harris+-+Washington+Post+Staff+Writers&pub=The+Washington+Post&edition=&startpage=A.1&desc=Color+of+Cabinet+Has+Fenty+on+the+Defensive;+Some+Residents+Give+Latitude,+but+Others+Say+Lack+of+Blacks+Doesn't+Reflect+City

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 8:54 AM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe wrote: "A large segment? Which one? Names and dates please."

From Colbert I. King:

"Within his first six months as mayor, Fenty replaced African Americans with non-black people in four of the city's most high-profile jobs: city administrator, police chief, fire chief and schools chief, according to a July 3, 2007, Post story. "Among those who hold arguably the 10 most influential positions" The Post reported, "only one . . . is black."

The Post wasn't telling African American residents anything they hadn't already noticed and taken to heart. The questions they asked repeatedly: To whom is Fenty talking? Whom is he listening to? Why is he doing this?"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/03/AR2010090304953.html

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 9:03 AM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe wrote: "Victim of ugly slurs? You were there? Names and dates, please."

From Courtland Milloy:

"What Rhee didn't say is that she has gone all out to make residents who live in the wealthier, predominantly white parts of the city feel good. And if their feathers got ruffled and needed smoothing, she went so far as to visit their homes for coffee klatches and pep talks.

So what happens when black residents on the other side of town start waving their hands - don't forget about us; we'd like to feel good, too? Rhee holds them up for ridicule. School reform is not "warm and fuzzy," she says."

"Rhee has certainly focused a lot on reforming schools in the District's more well-to-do and rapidly gentrifying neighbor-hoods. If you thought her priority was supposed to be educating poor black children, you were wrong."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/26/AR2010092602992_2.html?sid=ST2010092701773

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

frankb1 wrote: "researcher2: Sorry for the delay. I'll start work on it right away."

Thanks, looking forward to reading the quotes.

Posted by: researcher2 | March 1, 2011 9:27 AM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe wrote: "Victim of ugly slurs? You were there? Names and dates, please.

From Colbert I. King:

"Underlying the dislike for Rhee is the suspicion that her education reforms -- blessed by Fenty -- are part of a well-calculated strategy to weed out African Americans from positions in the public school management and classrooms, thus making the schools more acceptable to the city's growing number of well-off white people."

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 10:11 AM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe wrote: "Victim of ugly slurs? You were there? Names and dates, please"

From Marion Barry (via The Washington City Paper):

"To put a finer point on it, Barry says that the Korean-American Rhee—who, he says, comes from a culture that's "autocratic," "dictatorial," and "hierarchical"—can't possibly understand how to teach poor black kids."

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2010/03/18/did-marion-barry-compare-michelle-rhee-to-saddam-hussein/

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe wrote: "Victim of ugly slurs? You were there? Names and dates, please."

From Carolyn C. Steptoe (Ward 5 Resident):

"Is Rhee's goal (and that of her financial backers) to summarily exploit black and minority children. The New Teacher Project was created and driven off the backs of urban black and latino children; is Rhee's gut rooted in contemptous profiteering based on such neo-conservative ideology as spewed by AEI? It appears so."

Washington City Paper 1/30/2008

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2008/01/30/rhee-protesters-cant-write/

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe wrote: "Victim of ugly slurs? You were there? Names and dates, please."

From Ira Socol:

"But Cleo Cherryholmes, an educator par excellence, as we say, challenged me with the opposite tack. Impoverished minority kids need to learn "to be white" as Rhee insists. They must learn how to speak the English, and behave in the way, that will get them hired by, as Cleo said, "Goldman Sachs."

"Which is what I had to say about why I call Michelle Rhee a racist."

http://speedchange.blogspot.com/2009/11/colonialism-of-michelle-rhee-or-tfa-v.html

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 10:44 AM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe wrote: "Victim of ugly slurs? You were there? Names and dates, please."

From Theodore Duplessis:

"Michelle Rhee, the Asian woman who evidently watched that film "Lean on Me" with Morgan Friedman, one too many times, because like most non-blacks in the world, she uses black people for her resume and gets cheered by white media for her racism.

Michelle Rhee of Washington DC Education Reform, is proof that America still views blacks as experimental animals like they did with the Tuskegee Airmen and other programs."

http://creoleneworleans.typepad.com/creole_folks/2010/10/3-serious-cases-of-white-progressive-racism-denial.html

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 10:52 AM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe wrote: "Victim of ugly slurs? You were there? Names and dates, please."

From Erik Wemple/TBD (responding to Courtland Milloy's column):

"When you say that a public official comforts white individuals and ridicules black individuals, you're saying that the official practices racial discrimination. For the reader, the takeaway is that the official is a racist. And even for a public official, it's a towering charge to throw out there, one that can cripple a career."

http://www.tbd.com/articles/2010/09/courtland-milloy-on-michelle-rhee-fair--15607.html

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe wrote: "A large segment? Which one? Names and dates please."

From Education Week:

"Fenty's appointment of Michelle Rhee as the new chancellor came just hours after the mayor's takeover of the 55,000-student system. Rhee, who is Asian and would be the first non-black schools chief in the district in decades, founded the New Teacher Project in 1997. The group consults with school districts around the country, including New York, Washington and Chicago.

Some have criticized the selection process for being very secretive right up to the announcement. Why the need for such secrecy? And is Rhee's background the right fit for D.C.?"

http://www.edweek.org/ew/section/tb/2007/06/13/2668.html#tb-comments-list

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 11:09 AM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe wrote: "Victim of ugly slurs? You were there? Names and dates, please."

Eduardo Barada, Oyster-Adams ES PTA co-chairman accused Rhee of racism for ousting a Hispanic principal.

http://www.newsweek.com/2008/08/22/an-unlikely-gambler.html

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

"I’m a former editorial writer; I know about writing opinion. A fundamental principle of writing opinion is to engage the opposing view. Same holds for columnists."

Apparently, as a full-time corporate propagandist, he has no interest in "engaging the opposing view" any more than he has in confronting actual facts that contradict his narrative. Rhee's assertions were always dubious on their face, but they became the SACRED STORY upon which the "school reform" movement was based. Aside from her concocted SACRED STORY, there was no basis whatsoever for even considering Rhee for any position in education, and no reason to lend any credence to her uninformed opinions about schools, teaching and testing. The fact that the corporate media never questioned them is an extreme failure.

I've said before that if the current Post editorial board had been in place in the 1970's, Nixon would be on Mt Rushmore, you can add Whitmire to that list of incompetent "journalists." The primary job of the press is to investigate the assertions of those in power to discover whether or not they’re borne out by the evidence. Following the example of John Peter Zenger, the press should be a check on government power and corruption, not its cheerleader. Whitmire did learn a thing or two from one form Post reporter, however; Janet Cooke. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Posted by: mcstowy | March 1, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Frankb1 –
I just wanted to note that columnists and people quoted in articles do not necessarily speak for an entire community. Even elected officials often give their own opinions and do not speak for the community.

You posted a lot of quotes from columnists and from other people in news articles and blogs, but I did not see racial slurs in what you posted. Some of these columnists write incendiary stuff for various reasons, but I did not see racial slurs. Maybe I missed something.

Many of these columnists and quoted individuals discuss race and based on what was said some are probably bigoted, but I did not see racial slurs in what was posted. If Ms. Rhee was subjected to ugly racial slurs on a daily basis while doing her job she should have filed an EEO complaint. It’s still not too late. No one should have to put up with that.

Posted by: Concerned_Citizen2 | March 1, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Concerned_Citizen2-
To be fair, I didn't say they speak for "an entire community". I live and work in DC, so I know these views are not shared by the overwhelming majority of people in the community.

Here is wikipedia's definition of an ethnic slur: "a term or words used to insult on the basis of race, ethnicity, or nationality". That's the definition I use, and I think the examples I've listed fit it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_slurs

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Frankb1 -
No, you didn't say speak for "an entire community", I did. This is what you said - "Divisive racial politics are pursued with greater intensity in DC than in any city in the US. The fact that Fenty appointed a non-black person for the school chancellor's job was a huge issue from day one for a large segment of DC's political class, DCPS employees and the general population."
I consider myself to be part of the general population, so I wanted to note that I do not think that the quotes you posted are representative of a large segment of DC's general population. I don't think I'm in the minority. I have attended quite a few DC government forums over the years (some of them heated in terms of the discourse), and I have not witnessed people resorting to racial slurs.
I have been to numerous DCPS meetings and have not seen that level of behavior there either.
I further stated that if Ms. Rhee or anyone else for that matter is being subjected to, in your words, "ugly racial slurs" or any other slur while on the job, the person should take action to stop that behavior. No one should have to put up with that.

Posted by: Concerned_Citizen2 | March 1, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

frankb1,
As Concerned_Citizens2, you haven't shown a "large segment" or racist comments.

This is like your previous comment about supposed friends who were amazed at the critics of Miss Rhee at RW P&P event.

And, again, Miss Rhee's veracity is off the table for you.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | March 1, 2011 4:02 PM | Report abuse

And frankb1, I know you like to plead ignorance despite the love of learning instilled by your teachers,
Richard Whitmire is out with another pile of manure:
What Is Behind the Discrediting of Michelle Rhee?
http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/the-bee-keeper-cant-understand-why-we-all-dont-love-his-heroine/

Bob Somerby has this great response:
Whitmire is truly incredible–one of the most thorough party-liners I have ever seen.

His flim-flam regarding Rhee’s test scores as a Baltimore teacher is really a thing to behold. This part strikes me as most remarkable:

“I interviewed Rhee’s former principal, her teaching colleagues, and her TFA roommates, and came away confident that Rhee did, in fact, turn into a highly effective teacher. Today, with the benefit of hindsight, would Rhee cite exact test-score gains when, in actuality, the records don’t exist to prove them? No way. That was a rookie mistake.”

Of course, Rhee didn’t claim to be “a highly effective teacher.” She claimed to be a miracle worker. That said:

Rhee spent a dozen years building a lucrative career, in significant part on the basis of miraculous test scores she knew she couldn’t verify. She was still pimping these highly improbable scores when she came to DC, nominated to serve as the system’s chancellor. Whitmire refers to this as “a rookie mistake,” as if she was still in her first year of teaching.

Incredible. The lucrative mystique of Teach for Amnerica has also been built on miracle claims which can’t be verified–claims which are actually contradicted by the basic research.

Watching Whitmire at Politics and Prose, I really thought I had never seen so thorough a hack in person. Parts of his book are worth reading. But good lord, what a company man!

NB:
(By the way: Those test scores matter because they form the basis for Rhee’s whole theory of “reform,” in which children will do miraculous things if you just stand up and teach them. This ridiculous notion has always lay at the heart of her notion of “reform.”)

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | March 1, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

frankb1,

With almost all of your links and quotes, Frank, none of them fit a definition of an ethnic slur. And for that matter, most of them do not fit Wikipedia's either. Let me count the ways:

1. Accusing someone of racism is not an ethnic slur, whether or not it is true.
2. One's "background" may have to do with her educational experience and not her ethnicity.
3. Arguments of incredulity are not racial slurs.

This small list certainly does not mean Rhee has never been the victim of a racial slur, but it does mean that what you take for devastating cannon balls are really cotton balls.

Posted by: DHume1 | March 1, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I think calling Rhee a racist, or saying she practices racial discrimination is a racial slur. Saying she favors whites over blacks is a racial slur. Saying she comes from a culture that's "autocratic," "dictatorial," and "hierarchical" is a racial slur.

Also, by definition a large segment could be of almost any size. There is no defined minimum or maximum.

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 4:39 PM | Report abuse

DHume: "cotton balls"?

Really? You read through the examples I posted and think they're cotton balls? Maybe you are correct, and they don't fit the definition of racial slur. But cotton balls?

Saying Rhee comes from a culture that's "autocratic," "dictatorial," and "hierarchical" has to be a racial/ethnic slur, right?

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps I should have said ugly racially-tinged slander, and not ugly racial slurs.

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Frankb1,

No Frank, calling someone a racist is not a racial slur. What if it is true? Then they are a racist. If it isn't true, then it is defamation of character.

And there is a difference between a stereotype and a racial slur. Get with it, Frank. You sound like someone who lacks worldly experience.

Posted by: DHume1 | March 1, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Frankb1,

Regarding "cotton balls": Well, that was a metaphor and a hatcheted allusion to the Bard. And it is extremely apt, considering your reproveful and unlearned disposition regarding "racial slurs."

Posted by: DHume1 | March 1, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

DHume: I see little distinction between a racially-tinged defamation of character and a racial slur.

Do you believe Rhee is a racist? Or practiced racial discrimination as DCPS chancellor? Those charges are false, completely without merit right?

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 5:32 PM | Report abuse

phillipmarlowe: Do you believe Rhee is a racist? Or practiced racial discrimination as DCPS chancellor? Those charges are false, completely without merit right?

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Frankb1,

Here's an example:

Racial slur#1: Rhee is an Asian B%@ch.
Racial Slur#2: Rhee is a slanty-eyed B@#ch.
Possible Defamation of Character: Rhee is a racist.

Notice the difference among them. They all attack Rhee. But they attack her in different ways. Two of them attack her using her Asianness in a demeaning way. Notice how slur #1 or #2 would be a slur without the Asian part.

The last one is a statement that can be true but is NOT a slur in any way. I have met racists. I have called them racists. And they were racists. It is like calling someone a liar or a thief. There is a testing of truth to the matter: either the person lied or stole or is a racist.


Regarding what I believe about Rhee: I do not know what is in her heart. The only ones who would really know the answer to that one are the ones who are truly close to her. I, obviously, am not, so I cannot answer that question. Whitmire is not either (obviously Rhee would have put on her best mask for him).

I fully agree with all those who say that Rhee is an "autocrat" or that she is "dictatorial," or that she manages things in a "hierarchical" manner. Come on, Frank, these very words are what made Rhee Rhee.

Posted by: DHume1 | March 1, 2011 6:11 PM | Report abuse

@axolotl:"frankb1--agree, but I put little stock in most Post news reporting, especially local. "

Reminds me of the Groucho Marx-Margaret Dumont exchange once posted here:
MD: (indignent)"I didn't come here to be insulted."
Groucho: "Oh, yeah. Where do you usually go?"


However, I'm glad that axolotl reads the Post and lets us know how bad it is.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | March 1, 2011 7:17 PM | Report abuse

DHume: So in 1988 people were wrong to accuse Jimmy Snyder "Jimmy the Greek" of racism for saying:

"The black is a better athlete to begin with because he's been bred to be that way — because of his high thighs and big thighs that goes up into his back, and they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs. This goes back all the way to the Civil War when during the slave trading, the owner — the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid."

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 7:36 PM | Report abuse

What Jimmy the Greek said is not a racial slur?

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 7:39 PM | Report abuse

And James Watson's (The Bell Curve) comments about blacks & intelligence were not racial slurs?

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Are these comments just possible defamations of character? Or racist remarks/racial slurs.

Do we need to know what is in their hearts? Are the only ones who would really know the answer to that the ones who are truly close to them?

For me the answer is clear. They're racial slurs.

Posted by: frankb1 | March 1, 2011 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Philly--I spend five to ten minutes a day w the Post, never more.

A better Groucho quote is along the lines of: I would never join a club that would have me as a member.

And for good friends here: pls put down the r cards. No one's winning.

Posted by: axolotl | March 1, 2011 8:23 PM | Report abuse

So, rather than discuss whether or not Miss Rhee lied on her resume about her Baltimore Miracle and the contemporary adulation she received from the press (in 2007, when she was about 39, a "ROOKIE" mistake Richard Whitmire sonorously informs us), frankb1 desperately tries to turn this into a discussion of the racial slings and barbs that may or may not have directed her way.

So, frankb1, what's your take on Miss Rhee's veracity and the educational policies she recommends based on this never repeated by anyone "experience?"


(FTR, racist-NO, liar-YES)

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | March 1, 2011 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Clarification
The events occured in 1995.
Miss Rhee lied about them in 2007.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | March 1, 2011 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Frankb1,

Since you love wiki, here is a link for you:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_slur

And here's a definitive one:

http://gyral.blackshell.com/names.html

I don't see anything you posted fitting the bill. What a waste of my time trying to help you. I feel like an idiot.

And Frank, I am winding the watch of my wit for you from here on out.

Posted by: DHume1 | March 1, 2011 9:24 PM | Report abuse

frankb1, I read through the lengthy wikipedia cut-and-paste of quotes looking for the "ugly racial slurs" you promised, and with a few exception, I came up empty. Many of the "attacks" you cite don't even rise to the level of "unnecessarily personal attacks."

Wait, though. There's this one kinda offensive url: "rhee-protesters-cant-write"

Posted by: Trulee | March 3, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

frankb1 has been quite full of himself, trying to lead people astray.

He has yet to offer his opinion as to whether or not Miss Rhee was honest with her resume.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | March 5, 2011 3:32 AM | Report abuse

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