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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 02/15/2011

How Ed Harris and Jeff Steele got Rhee story

By Jay Mathews

I promised to report back when Ed Harris, a frequent and thoughtful commenter to this blog, known here as edlharris, told me how he managed to unearth the University of Maryland-Baltimore County report that revealed the test score results at the Baltimore elementary school where former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee taught in the early and mid-1990s.

Ed passed the information on to blogger Guy Brandenburg, who analyzed the report and proved, at least to my satisfaction, that Rhee's students could not have gotten to the 90th percentile, as she said on her résumé. Click on Brandenburg's blog to see new support for his analysis from one of the report's authors. Harris, Brandenburg and I have all congratulated another amateur researcher, Jeff Steele, who revealed to us that he tracked down the report in 2007, and wrote about it then. We all missed it.

Here is what Harris and Steele told me about how they found the report. I think it is a good lesson for all journalists, paid or otherwise:

From Ed:

Jay, I found the report by googling these words: tesseract UMBC Baltimore 1995

Try it and you will see the report is the first entry.

I read the commentary/reporting in the dailyhowler on Miss Rhee's hearing before the DC Council in July 2007. From that, I got UMBC Baltimore and 1995.

However, using those terms and "Harlem Park" or EAI only lead me to the GAO report.
Searching the Baltimore Sun archives also led nowhere. Then Guy posted the Hartford Courant articles that mention Miss Rhee (which, Jay, if you are to be intellectually honest, do not show "acclaim" as Michelle said). The articles focused on Tesseract instructional program.

So, a couple of months ago, as I was painting, the word Tesseract popped into my mind. I went over to the computer, entered tesseract UMBC Baltimore 1995, and found the report.

From Jeff:

Keeping in mind that I wrote that article 3 1/2 years ago, this is what I remember. I was concerned that Rhee's experience was in a for-profit school. When I learned that the company had failed, I started to research broader aspects of Education Alternatives Inc. I was really surprised that after all the emphasis on her test score achievements, those scores were not documented. This was a red flag to me, especially after the plagiarized education plan. I Googled like crazy trying to find information about Harlem Park and EAI. The trick to finding the UMBC report was knowing that the program was named Tesseract. The report is here (just as it was in 2007):

http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=ED390170&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=eric_accno&accno=ED390170

However, that page does not mention Harlem Park or EAI. I only found it by searching for "Tesseract". The report itself is a PDF which doesn't seem to be indexed. I downloaded the report and spend a lot of time going through it. I was well out of my league and didn't know the vocabulary of test scores at all. I had to do a lot of research just to know what basic things like a "NCE" were.

So, in response to your questions, I found the report by Googling for "Tesseract", I found it in the same place it is now, and it was just as accessible then as it is now.

By Jay Mathews  | February 15, 2011; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags:  Ed Harris, Guy Brandenburg, Jeff Steele, Michelle Rhee, UMBC report on Harlem Park Elementary School  
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Comments

Thanks, Ed Harris and Jeff Steele, this is why blogging is so important and why I read them.

Posted by: lacy41 | February 15, 2011 6:42 AM | Report abuse

To add, I had seen Jeff's archived webpage and the link to the UMBC. However, for me, the link didn't work.
I went back last week to Jeff's site, and I notice that the link contains the ERIC number. So, I could have found this report about a year and a half ago.

Posted by: edlharris | February 15, 2011 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Ed and Jeff, thank you for your commitment to pubic education.

Like all of Rhee’s rhetoric, the bee eating story raises questions and causes doubts. If a teacher ate a bee in class, second grade students would be horrified and most would tell their parents. If the story is true, why didn’t parents complain about the teacher eating a bee at school. Why didn’t the principal fire Rhee for her unprofessional behavior causing emotional harm to all her second grade students.

Did the owners, principals, and related partners of Education Alternatives Inc. cover-up bizarre behavior by teachers at the for-profit schools?

Did Whitmire fact check the bee eating story?

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | February 15, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

IS this sort of a "Bookend" for your career? You rose to fame writing about a hard working math teacher who administrators attacked with claims of cheating, and you are ending with an administrator who cheated, but attacks hard working teachers.

Posted by: mamoore1 | February 15, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Unlike Harris and Steele, as cynical as I usually am about superficial news reports, I accepted Rhee's and the media's assertion that the Baltimore school files no longer existed.

Specifically, it was this paragraph in the August 22nd, 2008 Newsweek article by Evan Thomas that deterred me from further investigation:

“Over the next two years, working with another teacher, she took a group of 70 kids who had been scoring ‘at almost rock bottom on standardized tests’ to ‘absolutely at the top,’ she says. (Baltimore does not keep records by classroom, so NEWSWEEK was unable to confirm this assertion.)”
http://www.newsweek.com/2008/08/22/an-unlikely-gambler.html

I was disgusted at the time that Newsweek would even print something that it hadn’t confirmed.
But another even more disgusting possibility is that Thomas found the same material that Ed and Jeff found and decided not to report on it, based on the finding that (note the wording), “Baltimore does not keep records by classroom.” He doesn’t say that he didn’t locate records on Rhee’s school or that he didn’t analyze the data that would show (as Brandenburg and Steele found) that Rhee’s class could not have achieved the gains she claimed. Instead, Thomas simply implies that the lack of classroom records prevented him from confirming Rhee’s assertion.

Jay, how about you ask Thomas to look over Brandenburg’s chart now and ask about his investigative process and what he thinks of Brandenburg’s analysis?

Evan Thomas is a big-time journalist who is a panelist on “Inside Washington” a PBS weekly public affairs program. He’s written numerous books and received an award for his reporting on the Monica Lewinsky case.

Like you, Jay, Thomas went to Harvard, and like Brandenburg, Thomas attended high school at the exclusive Phillips Exeter Academy. (Brandenburg went on to another Ivy League college, Dartmouth.) *

Thomas has a reputation to hold up. It will be interesting to see what he has to say about Rhee’s Baltimore record two-and-a-half years after his Newsweek report.

* references in the order mentioned above:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evan_Thomas
http://washingtonexaminer.com/node/398891#ixzz1E2Rnxs3R

Posted by: efavorite | February 15, 2011 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Will 'eyes wide open' members of the general public
please become aware
of Michelle Rhee's burgeoning & awesome HYPOCRISY ?!!
Her hucksterism and apparent sloganeering is.....
"Students First", but, but ... HER DAUGHTERS LAST !

Look at her overall pattern of: SELF-CENTERED, SELF-SERVING
(NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER) DELUSIONAL MISCONDUCT,
SLUTTY-SLEAZY, ABHORRENT BEHAVIORAL CHOICES,
and her SOCIOPATHIC
UTTER NEGLECT of her two young daughters !

Definitely research her bizarre history with faux-fiance
(documented serial molester of several
H.S. students & teenage Americorps staff) Kevin Johnson
and investigate Rhee's
direct involvement with Johnson's
Sacramento Charter School corrupt cover-ups
of sexcapades with minors & teens, financial malfeasance
& misuse of govt. funds.

It is obvious when examining Rhee's pattern
of irresponsible, warped
& selfish misconduct (including forcibly uprooting
family members),
that her ex-husband is now mainly the custodial parent
who is providing consistent care & nurturing concern
for the daily developmental well-being of their daughters
and he is the only mature & responsible adult
in that family !

MICHELLE RHEE FIRST.....
($$$ eduprofiteering & privatizing
private equity oligarchy-hedge fund hustlers FIRST..... )
Children, Community stakeholders, & especially the needs of
her own daughters
come LAST !

=======================

Posted by: honestaction | February 15, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

What was Ed painting? Why was Ed painting? So many important unanswered questions. Keep digging Mr. Mathews, keep digging.

Meanwhile, any reporting from DCPS (or Gray's office) on an appeal of the Feigenbaum ruling?

Posted by: frankb1 | February 15, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Will 'eyes wide open' members of the general public
please become aware
of Michelle Rhee's burgeoning & awesome HYPOCRISY ?!!
Her hucksterism and apparent sloganeering is.....
"Students First", but, but ... HER DAUGHTERS LAST !

Look at her overall pattern of: SELF-CENTERED, SELF-SERVING
(NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER) DELUSIONAL MISCONDUCT, SLUTTY-SLEAZY,
ABHORRENT BEHAVIORAL CHOICES,
and her SOCIOPATHIC
UTTER NEGLECT of her two young daughters !

Definitely research her bizarre history with faux-fiance
(documented serial molester of several H.S.
students & teenage Americorps staff) Kevin Johnson
and also investigate Rhee's
direct involvement with Johnson's
Sacramento Charter School corrupt cover-ups
of sexcapades with minors & teens, financial malfeasance
& misuse of govt. funds.

It is obvious when examining Rhee's pattern
of irresponsible, warped
& selfish misconduct (including
forcibly uprooting family members),
that her ex-husband is now mainly the custodial parent
who is providing consistent care & nurturing concern
for the daily developmental well-being of their daughters
and he is the only mature
& responsible adult in that family !

MICHELLE RHEE FIRST.....
($$$ privatizing & eduprofiteering
private equity oligarchy-hedge fund hustlers FIRST..... )
Children, Community stakeholders, & especially the needs of
her own daughters
come LAST !

======================

Posted by: honestaction | February 15, 2011 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Of course there is no follow up from Jay Mathews regarding his conversation with Ms. Rhee last week before the admission of Ms. Rhee that her claim in her resume of 2007 was false.

Also there is no follow up on who spoke to Ms. Rhee regarding the article in the Washington Post on Friday with her statement of her need to change her resume.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Since most here will probably not read Whitmire's book, here's an excerpt from page 3:

"That evening, carpooling home with Liz Peterson, a roommate who was a Teach for America teacher in a nearby school, Rhee mentioned the fact that she ate a bumblebee that day."

In addition to Liz Peterson, I believe Fellow Baltimore TFAer Roger Schulman also corroborated the story. Several other teachers and administrators from Rhee's time in Baltimore, as well as Rhee's parents, were also interviewed by Whitmore.

But why place any confidence in veteran, distinguished reporters such as Richard Whitmire, when we have Ed & Guy to inform us.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 15, 2011 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: efavorite

I used what you posted to email the following to a reporter on a reputable national newspaper.

If readers know of other documented uses of Ms. Rhee of her false claim please post them.
.................................
Example of Ms. Rhee use of the falsehood that appeared on her resume in 2007.
----------------------------------------

Rhee "sort of became obsessed," she says. "I was not going to let 8-year-olds run me out of town." Over the next two years, working with another teacher, she took a group of 70 kids who had been scoring "at almost rock bottom on standardized tests" to "absolutely at the top," she says. (Baltimore does not keep records by classroom, so NEWSWEEK was unable to confirm this assertion.) The key to success was, in her word, "sweat," on the part of the teacher and the students. "I wouldn't say I was a great teacher. I've seen great. I worked hard," says Rhee.

She had an epiphany of sorts. In the demoralized world of inner-city schools, it is easy to become resigned to poor results—and to blame the environment, not the schools themselves. Broken families, crime, drugs, all conspire against academic achievement. But Rhee discovered that teachers could make the critical difference. "It drives me nuts when people say that two thirds of a kid's academic achievement is based on their environment. That is B.S.," says Rhee. She points to her second graders in Baltimore whose scores rose from worst to best. "Those kids, where they lived didn't change. Their parents didn't change. Their diets didn't change. The violence in the community didn't change. The only thing that changed for those 70 kids was the adults who were in front of them every single day teaching them."

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

The claim that it is not the environment but the schools is false since Ms. Rhee based this on her claim of scores rising from the "from worst to best" which is now known is false.

Time to recognize that Ms. Rhee has used her false claim to pretend that the research of years regarding public education was false and can simply be disregarded.

This is the reason why there needs full national coverage of the admission of the falsehood of the claim of Ms. Rhee since this claim has be used for years to influence public opinion and national policy in public education. Time to recognize that the current national conceptions and policies regarding public education are built on a claim that is now admitted to be false.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2011 10:54 AM | Report abuse

for frankb1,
"Eleanor Roosevelt noted that, “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” "

Ideas like truth, honesty, fidelity and respect.

Posted by: edlharris | February 15, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Readers please post documented cases of Ms. Rhee publicly using her false claim.

The national newspaper that might do a real story is still interested.

Unlike Jay Mathews and the Washington Post they understand that national policy based upon falsehood is a national story.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2011 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Frank, the topic for this blog has nothing to do with eating flying insects. Stay on topic, dude.

BTW, I know that it is very difficult for you to think about, but it is remotely possible that Whitmire didn't even know about Harris and Steele's claim. I'm sure if he knew about it, he would have addressed it, being the "veteran, distinguished reporter" that he is. If he did know about it, then he's just another hack-sack like yourself.


Posted by: DHume1 | February 15, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

The book is “The Bee Eater,” the title a reference to a moment when Rhee as a young teacher gained respect from her unruly Baltimore students by killing and swallowing a wayward insect flying around her classroom.
...................
I know that this is somewhat off the subject but this really is something that says a great deal about Ms. Rhee and the acceptance of the ideas of Ms. Rhee.

At the time this incident Ms. Rhee was a teacher to 2nd or 3rd grade students.

If any child in a middle class public school came home with a story of a teacher eating insects the parent would believe the child was exaggerating. If the parent found that the child was telling the truth, the parent would contact other parents and together the immediate dismissal of the teacher.

Of course there was the incident of Ms. Rhee taping the mouth of children which would have had middle class parents demanding the immediate dismissal of Ms. Rhee if this was done in a middle class public school.

I believe that any middle class public school principal would see the danger of employing a teacher in a class room who actions indicated serious psychological problems.

The reality is that if Ms. Rhee had been a teacher in a middle class public school she would have been dismissed immediately based on her actions that these actions were only accepted because she was working in substandard public school.

And Mr. Mathews still can see no reason for rejecting Ms. Rhee and her ideas.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

From Richard Whitmore's The Bee Eater:

"Rhee said she was working off what her principal told her. "Back then, it wasn't like you were given reports on how well your kids did. It's not anything close to how things are now. Basically, we were told by our principal: your kids made etc., etc. So we just took that as the truth. When I talked about kids going from the bottom to the top, it's not like i was saying that based on nothing. It was what our principal told us. Again, it was a different era in terms of what was given to teachers in terms of the evidence or proof."

"Both Rhee's principal, Linda Carter, and Rhee's coteacher recalled sharp gains but lacked hard evidence. "They tested extremely well," Carter told me. "She didn't make it up."

Pages: 37-38 & 246

Posted by: frankb1 | February 15, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Um, Frank, he still didn't address Harris or Steele's claim.

I suggest you ask Whitmire himself. Email him. You're into "good" reporting.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 15, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Frankb - Harris, Steele and Brandenburg have not attempted to prove that Rhee did not eat a bee. Also Rhee made no such claim on her resume. She would have been safer doing that, however, because there are no archives of 2nd graders' memories.

Bsallamack - thanks for passing the info on.

Posted by: efavorite | February 15, 2011 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Correction to post at 10:07 above -- I got it wrong about Thomas' prep school - he went to Phillips Andover, not Phillips Exeter, where Brandenburg went. Sorry about that.

They are both good schools, though, as are Harvard and Dartmouth.

Posted by: efavorite | February 15, 2011 1:40 PM | Report abuse

For frankb1---I too would like to know what Ed was painting. I should have asked him. Ed?

For mamoore1---By my count, my writing about hardworking teachers is stil more common than my writing about superintendents. I resolved long ago to stay as far away from school boards and superintendents, and as close to teachers and classrooms as I could. I couldn't avoid writing about Rhee. If I had, as a Wash Post columnist, most people reading this blog would think I was shirking my duty.
I have had a spurt of Rhee columns lately, but that is an anomaly. Far more characteristic are my columns about Harriet Ball, Ed Linz, Anthony Priest, Dan Stephens, Erich Martel and Jaime Escalante.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | February 15, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

As a retired teacher, parent, and past student, I don't have a problem with teachers eating insects to make a point.

(I even had a colleague from China who told me that when she was young and her family was poor, they earned a lot of money in their rural Chinese farming region by gathering periodic cicadas just as they emerged from the ground, and selling them for food before their shells hardened. I've tried them in the past myself, but the crunchy shell was a bit off-putting, no matter how I sauteed them. Next time we have a swarm, I will catch them before they harden up and fly off.)

I do have a serious problem with a teacher taping kids' mouths shut -- especially when they start to bleed -- and with taking field trips without having documentation of students' phone numbers or anything else.

I also have major problems with individuals who try to promote themselves by claiming, with great specificity, fantastic successes that never occurred. I am glad that I was able to demonstrate that, in fact, that entire story was a lie. It shows that Michelle Rhee absolutely cannot be trusted to tell the truth if she thinks a lie will serve her purposes better. (Much like Ronald Reagan.)

BTW, I am GFBrandenburg aka TexasIke59. (I think I've mentioned that at times, and also spoken of myself in the 3rd person.)

FYI, 'efavorite,' I went to Exeter for 2 years as a scholarship kid. Back then, we scholarship boys had to work off part of the funds by working in the school cafeteria, cleaning dishes, waiting tables, working in the library, and so on. Evan Thomas III(whom I've never met) went to Phillips Andover, according to Wikipedia. In my 2 years there, I don't recall hanging out with anybody with a II, a III, or a IV after their name. Those kids were generally pretty mean and not terribly bright, either.

(However, research shows that 'legacy' kids like that have something like a 4-fold advantage at getting into Ivy League schools, compared to other students. http://chronicle.com/article/Legacys-Advantage-May-Be/125812/ )

That being said, let me repeat that I know next to nothing about Evan Thomas. But reporters who take at face value incredible accomplishments like Rhee's supposed 13th-to-90th-percentile jump show that they were, simply, suckers. And should be chastised for their gullibility.

GFB aka TexasIke59

Posted by: TexasIke59 | February 15, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

From the Bee Eater, according to Frankb:
"Back then, it wasn't like you were given reports on how well your kids did. It's not anything close to how things are now. Basically, we were told by our principal: your kids made etc., etc. So we just took that as the truth. When I talked about kids going from the bottom to the top, it's not like i was saying that based on nothing. It was what our principal told us. Again, it was a different era in terms of what was given to teachers in terms of the evidence or proof."

Ah, but it was more than just what the principal told her – her own experience of her kids’ great strides was a “life-altering experience” for her that caused her to become “obsessed.” See her statements from at the November 2008 meeting of the Aspen Institute:

“I had a life-altering experience through that experience [teaching in Baltimore], I came to realize this is all about the teachers, because for those 70 kids nothing changed….”

“And so I became obsessed with this idea that if we were really going to change the quality of urban education in this county, it’s going to be about high quality teachers.”
http://mefeedia.com/entry/dc-schools-chancellor-michelle-rhee/15966031

Posted by: efavorite | February 15, 2011 2:44 PM | Report abuse

So did Linda Carter and Rhee's coteacher lie as well? Was it a conspiracy to deceive, and to conceal the truth?

Posted by: frankb1 | February 15, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Whitmire's book does devote a Chapter to Rhee's life-altering experience in Baltimore: "The Trasformation Begins". Seems very well researched and reported using multiple sources. But maybe's Whitmire's just another MSM shill/hack.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 15, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

"Both Rhee's principal, Linda Carter, and Rhee's coteacher recalled sharp gains but lacked hard evidence. "They tested extremely well," Carter told me. "She didn't make it up."

I'd say the words are very carefully chosen to avoid specificity.

"Testing extremely well" is not necessarily the same thing as "learning a lot" or going from the "bottom to the top" in terms of reading or math ability. Anyone who has ever crammed for a final knows that.

Of course it's also possible to "test extremely well" by cheating.

And "recalling" something leaves a lot of wiggle room. Besides, they acknowledge a lack of hard evidence, so they are safe - just going on their recollection from 20 years ago.

Posted by: efavorite | February 15, 2011 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Frankb - tell us more about Whitmire's description of Rhee's life-altering experience.

Did it start when the principal told Rhee the good news, or did Rhee notice it on her own through the year, as the kids were progressing from the bottom to the top, based simply on the teachers standing in front of them?

Posted by: efavorite | February 15, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

From Richard Whitmore's The Bee Eater:

"Rhee said she was working off what her principal told her. "Back then, it wasn't like you were given reports on how well your kids did.

Posted by: frankb1
............................

This is really tiring when the false claim was:
"Over a two-year period, moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90 percent of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher."

The excuse of Ms. Rhee is absurd given the specific details of her claim.

Does anyone with intelligence believe that the principal told Ms. Rhee you "Over a two-year period, moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90 percent of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher" and that now that principal can not remember speaking to Ms. Rhee in this great detail?

Notice that Ms. Rhee continuously gives out this ludicrous story but never tell anyone what exactly the principal said to her.

She told me, but I can not tell you what she told me.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

So did Linda Carter and Rhee's coteacher lie as well? Was it a conspiracy to deceive, and to conceal the truth?

Posted by: frankb1
.........................
You are as bad as Ms. Rhee.

No one has accused Linda Carter or Rhee's coteacher of stating that Ms. Rhee over "a two-year period, moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90 percent of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher."

Interesting to see that the supporters of Ms. Rhee also see no problem in falsehoods and distortions.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Jay Mathews | February 15, 2011 1:47 PM
.................
Of course there is no follow up from Jay Mathews regarding his conversation with Ms. Rhee last week before the admission of Ms. Rhee that her claim in her resume of 2007 was false.

Also there is no follow up on who spoke to Ms. Rhee regarding the article in the Washington Post on Friday with her statement of her need to change her resume.

Posted by: bsallamack
..........................
Of course there is no response to Jay Mathews to the above.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

"Back then, it wasn't like you were given reports on how well your kids did."

Surely she didn't just wait to be "given reports."

Maybe way back then in the 90's, teachers didn't test the kids themselves or notice their progress, as they read faster and buzzed through their math problems.

How dare she deny all the DC teachers her methodology for these impressive gains.

Posted by: efavorite | February 15, 2011 4:48 PM | Report abuse

According to Whitmire: Linda Carter was presented with strong skepticism* about Rhee's claim that:

over "a two-year period, Rhee moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90 percent of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher."

Linda Carter's reply: "She didn't make it up."

*Whitmire reports it was the first topic WTU President Nathan Saunders raised when they met, "while laughing and rolling his eyes."

Posted by: frankb1 | February 15, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

... I couldn't avoid writing about Rhee. If I had, as a Wash Post columnist, most people reading this blog would think I was shirking my duty.

Posted by: Jay Mathews
..........................
Jay Mathews needs to stop being schizoid in regard to his love affair with Ms. Rhee.

Yesterday we were told he was a fan of Ms. Rhee while today he is just doing his duty in reporting on Ms. Rhee.

"Rhee fans like me will enjoy remembering"

Should we expect the next watered down and trite article Mr. Matthews writes concerning Ms. Rhee will be because Jay Mathews is a fan of Ms. Rhee.

By the way the Washington Post should have a contest with readers submitting their opinion on the most trite and watered article of Jay Mathews regarding Ms. Rhee. I think that the one last year with his homily on the word "wrong" in regard to the detailed specific claim of Ms. Rhee should be a hands down winner. Hard to get more trite.

"I couldn't avoid writing about Rhee." certainly could be a cry of help for the obsession of Jay Mathews with Ms. Rhee and his willingness to go to any lengths to protect her, no matter how ludicrous it makes him appear.

Who says there are not strong insights into human nature from the columns of Jay Mathews?

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2011 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I worked for Linda Carter at what was then Owen Brown Middle School in Howard County, Maryland. She was hired from Baltimore City where, according to her assertions, as principal she was able to turn the school around and produce high test scores.

Mrs. Carter was, in my opinion, able to be extremely convincing verbally but was by far the worse principal for whom I ever worked. I believe she lasted three years in Howard County before being forced into retirement. The last I heard of her, she was an adjuct professor at Copin State.

What a joke that Rhee worked for another self serving individual. Please, Ed and Jeff, keep looking under this rock; there is no telling what else you are going to find.

Posted by: lacy41 | February 15, 2011 5:14 PM | Report abuse

According to Whitmire: Linda Carter was presented with strong skepticism* about Rhee's claim that:

over "a two-year period, Rhee moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90 percent of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher."

Linda Carter's reply: "She didn't make it up."
Posted by: frankb1
.....................
Yes and on what page is this in his book and what are the other details regarding this claim of yours.

Also you might want to think why hearsay evidence is not accepted in court.

Also you might want to think that we already know that the "written" claim of Ms. Rhee was false, so maybe your idea that if it "written" does not prove that it is true.

Where is the full transcript of the Council that reviewed the claim of Ms. Rhee and where is the transcript of any questioning of Linda Carter at that Council meeting?

Remember frankb,

According to Ms. Rhee she "Over a two-year period, moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90 percent of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher." until she had to admit last week that this claim was false.

So stop with the "According to " and present real evidence instead of nonsense.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2011 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone checked out whether or not Linda Carter is in still connected with via employment or something of that sort?

Posted by: lacy41 | February 15, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

I just love the forensic claims and byplay in this thread about minutia that make no difference now or going forward. Just think if you applied all of this brainpower, with a few exceptions, to something more important, for example: refining Impact, identifying the next schools to close, debating whether the Mayor should actually appoint Henderson permanently. This thread is typical of the bloviation and deflection of attention that condemns DCPS to its lowly, and largely justified, reputation.

Posted by: axolotl | February 15, 2011 5:30 PM | Report abuse

"Back then, it wasn't like you were given reports on how well your kids did."

Surely she didn't just wait to be "given reports."

Posted by: efavorite
.....................
efavorite is quite correct and teachers are usually very interested in the test results for their class.

Besides back then was not the 1890's instead of the 1990's.

Interesting to think that the discovery of data regarding these tests increase the probability that the data of test scores might be discovered.

Perhaps this is why Ms. Rhee finally admitted that her claim was false.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2011 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Geez Frank,

It is possible that they lied. It is also possible that they themselves were confused. It was possible that they were mislead. It could be that they received incorrect information and build their house upon an unsound foundation. Or it could be that were involved in some form of test reporting collusion. Could be a conspiracy, but I do not know myself. What I do know is that someone is misleading someone here.

A good reporter, Frank, is not someone who jumps on the Rhee sycophantic boat. A good reporter would address this point. A good reporter wouldn't skirt the point, wouldn't place it on the periphery. She would be explicit with her subject. Because Whitmire didn't explicitly address the issue, he either didn't know about it or knew and skirted the issue. You are assuming that he did know and didn't explicitly address Harris and Steele's claim. Well, Frank, that would make him a really sucky reporter now, wouldn't it? I, on the other hand, assume that he is a decent reporter and didn't know about it. You, conversely, assume he did know and that his tome is the definitive definition of Rhee's life. Grow some simple skepticism nut sacks, Frank. Learn what it means to become a good reporter.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 15, 2011 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Just think if you applied all of this brainpower,
Posted by: axolotl
.....................
Just think if brainpower would have been applied to not accepting Ms. Rhee in the position in 2007 since the current mayor believed the claim was false but could not prove it.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2011 5:33 PM | Report abuse

"The Bee Eater" pages: 37-38 & 246

I think Whitmire is a good reporter*, he writes:

"The belief that Rhee exaggerated the gains, however, quickly became an article of faith among Rhee's critics."

"According to the resume turned over to Washington, DC's City Council at her 2007 nomination hearing, after two years, 90 percent of her students were scoring at the 90th percentile on national reading and math tests. Only two years earlier, when they first started with Rhee, they were scoring on average at the 13th percentile."

"At the hearing, there was no shortage off skepticism about those gains."

Whitmire presses Carter and Rhee's coteacher, they: "recalled sharp gains but lacked hard evidence. "They tested extremely well," Carter told me. "She didn't make it up."

*Richard Whitmire is a veteran education reporter, former editorial writer for USA Today, immediate past-president of the National Education Writers Association and author of the book "Why Boys Fail".

Posted by: frankb1 | February 15, 2011 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Spoken like a true believer:
"The belief that Rhee exaggerated the gains, however, quickly became an article of faith among Rhee's critics."

The logic-based approach is this:
"The belief that Rhee actually made such incredible gains, however, quickly became an article of faith among Rhee's supporters."

Whitmire may not be a very good reporter, but he's an excellent apologist.

Posted by: efavorite | February 15, 2011 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Whitmire presses Carter and Rhee's coteacher, they: "recalled sharp gains but lacked hard evidence. "They tested extremely well," Carter told me. "She didn't make it up."
Posted by: frankb1
....................
If supposedly they started at the 13th percentile and end up at the 50th percentile this could be considered "sharp gains".

I believe the evidence presented now shows gains at the 50th percentile.

The 50th percentile is very far from the false claim of "students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher" made by Ms. Rhee.

Note that there is a public record of the resume of Ms. Rhee and that should have been posted. Yet frankb1 posted a paraphrase that does not contain the claim of "90th percentile or higher" that was in the resume.

Why do the supporters of Ms. Rhee believe others should listen to them when they continuously attempt to falsify what is on the record?

Are we really to believe that these supporters are too unsophisticated to know to post documents and not a paraphrase of the documents? Somehow I do not believe this when the paraphrase always leave out evidence not in their favor.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2011 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Brandenburg writes:"I am glad that I was able to demonstrate that, in fact, that entire story was a lie."

A lie is a known untruth expressed as truth.

To lie is to state something that one knows to be false or that one does not honestly believe to be true with the intention that a person will take it for the truth.

So where is the evidence of a lie?

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

Posted by: frankb1 | February 15, 2011 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: frankb1
................
By the way frankb1 what does Mr. Whitmire say about Ms. Rhee taping the mouths of her students?

I am really curious what the party line of the supporters of Ms. Rhee is in regard to this?

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2011 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Just answer one question: Did Rhee kill the bee before eating it?

Posted by: lacy41 | February 15, 2011 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Reading frankb1 and axolotl's reminds me of the blind man's the review of Fellini's Satyricon:
"I didn't see any orgy."

Mr. Whitmire did not have the UMBC report. He said so in a private email, but that is just as easily discerned from his book.
Nor did he bother to review the media coverage from that time period, all the stories that "featured" Miss Rhee's teaching practices and that awarded her "acclaim" for her "success in the classroom."
He also doesn't provide much detail on the Capital Gains fiasco in DCPS.
People magazine would have been a much better venue for his work this time.

I seen it here before, but that line of Oscar Wilde's doesn't fit in this case:
"Every great man nowadays has his disciples, and it is always Judas who writes the biography."

Once a liar, always a liar.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | February 15, 2011 7:17 PM | Report abuse

According to the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics, professional INTEGRITY is the cornerstone of a journalist's CREDIBILITY.

Repeatedly stating that Rhee's "story was a lie" (without providing any evidence), calls into question your INTEGRITY, which erodes your CREDIBILITY.

CREDIBILITY refers to the objective and subjective components of the believability of a source or message.Traditionally, credibility has two key components: trustworthiness and expertise, which both have objective and subjective components. Trustworthiness is based more on subjective factors, but can include objective measurements such as established reliability. Expertise can be similarly subjectively perceived, but also includes relatively objective characteristics of the source or message (e.g., credentials, certification or information quality)

INTEGRITY is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness of one's actions. Integrity can be regarded as the opposite of hypocrisy,[1] in that it regards internal consistency as a virtue, and suggests that parties holding apparently conflicting values should account for the discrepancy or alter their beliefs.

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

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

Posted by: frankb1 | February 15, 2011 7:23 PM | Report abuse

So where is the evidence of a lie?

Posted by: frankb1
.................
frankb1 wants us to go back to last week and the homily of the word wrong by Jay Mathews.

The evidence shows that the claim on the resume was false.

There are two possibility.
One she knew she was lying, and two that she did not know she was lying.

Ms. has already admitted her claim on her resume was false.

Ms. Rhee tells everyone that her principal told her in a conversation that she "Over a two-year period, moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90 percent of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher."

This statement can be either true or false.

But the principal does not verify telling Ms. Rhee in a conversation this detailed specifics that Ms. Rhee claims she was told.

There is also the problem that if we were to believe Ms. Rhee we would have to believe that the principal had made up out of the air what she supposedly told Ms. Rhee.

We know now from evidence that the actual test results were not 90 percent of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher.

This means that either Ms. Rhee is lying about what the principal told her, or the principal lied to Ms. Rhee about supposedly totally imaginary test results that she told to Ms. Rhee.

I know that the supporters of Ms. Rhee would like everyone to believe that the principal lied and made up totally imaginary test results that she told Ms. Rhee, but the reality is everyone, except the die hard supporters of Ms. Rhee, believe that Ms. Rhee lied on the false claim on her resume and also lied when she blamed the principal for this false claim.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2011 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Just answer one question: Did Rhee kill the bee before eating it?

Posted by: lacy41 | February 15, 2011 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Just answer one question: Did Rhee kill the bee before eating it?

Posted by: lacy41
..................
Really good question.

Instead of Oprah imagine if Ms. Rhee was on the Colbert Report so Americans could find out the answer to this question.

Imagine Colbert asking Ms. Rhee if as Chancellor she made duct tape a standard item of issue for all teachers in case they needed it for use on children.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2011 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Will 'eyes wide open' members of the general public
please become aware
of Michelle Rhee's burgeoning & awesome HYPOCRISY ?!!
Her hucksterism and apparent sloganeering is.....
"Students First", but, but ... HER DAUGHTERS LAST !

Look at her overall pattern of: SELF-CENTERED, SELF-SERVING
(NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER) DELUSIONAL MISCONDUCT, SLUTTY-SLEAZY,
ABHORRENT BEHAVIORAL CHOICES,
and her SOCIOPATHIC
UTTER NEGLECT of her two young daughters !

Definitely research her bizarre history with faux-fiance
(documented serial molester of several H.S.
students & teenage Americorps staff) KEVIN JOHNSON
and also investigate Rhee's
direct involvement with Johnson's
Sacramento Charter School corrupt cover-ups
of sexcapades with minors & teens, financial malfeasance
& misuse of govt. funds.

It is obvious when examining Rhee's pattern
of irresponsible, warped
& selfish misconduct (including
forcibly uprooting family members),
that her ex-husband is now mainly the custodial parent
who is providing consistent care & nurturing concern
for the daily developmental well-being of their daughters
and he is the only mature
& responsible adult in that family !

MICHELLE RHEE FIRST.....
($$$ privatizing & eduprofiteering
private equity oligarchy-hedge fund hustlers FIRST..... )
Children, Community stakeholders, & especially the needs of
her own daughters
come LAST !

======================

Posted by: honestaction | February 15, 2011 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Just answer one question: Did Rhee kill the bee before eating it?

Posted by: lacy41
..................
Really good question.

Instead of Oprah imagine if Ms. Rhee was on the Colbert Report so Americans could find out the answer to this question.

Imagine Colbert asking Ms. Rhee if as Chancellor she made duct tape a standard item of issue for all teachers in case they needed it for use on children.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2011 7:34 PM | Report abuse
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
bsallamack, my guess is the tape, of the dollar store variety, was included among the customary and essential items issued at New Teachers' Orientation.

Posted by: lacy41 | February 15, 2011 7:54 PM | Report abuse

There must be a former BCPS teacher who can tell us whether or not they were privy to the test results of their students. Bob Somersby over at the Dailyhowler.com would be a good source.
In PGCPS, these type of test scores were given to the children to take home.

I can remember receiving those sheets. And believe it or not, I still have them along with my grade school report cards and class pictures.

Dropping down to the People/US magazine level, I was painting a room in my house.
That friend I mentioned Jay, and I prepped the walls by driving nails back in and then using joint compound to even the walls out.
We then sanded the walls and installed a new ceiling and insulation. We sanded the floor.
Then we painted starting with 2 coats of Benjamin Moor primer.
Then we applied 2 coats of Benjamin Moore on the walls and ceilings.
The floor received two coats of Benjamin Moore paint and then 2 coats of clear acrylic. I finished off installing and painting the trim.
We used lamb's wool rollers and Corona brushes.
I was fortunate to get the copious quantities of Benjamin Moore paint at the contractor's price.

Posted by: edlharris | February 15, 2011 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Frank,

The irony of your integrity and credibility post filled me and my family with mirth. Thanks for the laugh.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 15, 2011 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Oh Ed, What a come-down - I was imagining you painting a sunset - in Tuscany, perhaps. The colors are so luscious there. I've beeeeen there, haven't you???

Still - this is real life, isn't it? Not a miracle story or a romance novel or an excuse to impress.

And someone's got to tell it straight.

Thanks to you, and Jeff Steele and Guy Brandenburg --- and me and lots of others too.

Posted by: efavorite | February 15, 2011 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Ed Harris, Guy Brandenburg and Jeff Steele, you guys are my heros. (And Jay, you're beginning to become one too).

Posted by: chicogal | February 15, 2011 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Time for teachers to stop patting themselves on the back.

Time for teachers through out the country to demand that their unions start organizing the parents to fight back against the policies of government that are in response to the malcontent teacher bashers and the poverty public schools that have had problems for decades.

Time for the teacher unions to start telling parents in the middle class the problems of having national policy in public education solely based on the poverty public schools and malcontent teacher bashers.

Even the teachers in middle class public schools must now be aware of the dangers of politicians exploiting the malcontent teacher bashers while pretending that the problem in the poverty public schools is the teachers and not the children that have great difficulty in learning.

Is teaching going to be career with certified teachers or just a take anyone off the street job that proclaim the take off the street as highly qualified?

Middle class parents will quickly understand the dangers to their children were teachers are forced to teach on the lowest common denominator. Middle class parents should be told of the billions that are going into standardized tests that have already been shown to be worthless since they are watered as was admitted last year by New York State. Middle class parents should not be forced to pay for this expensive meaningless testing with the heavy property taxes that they pay for a superior public education system, and not one geared to the lowest common denominator of watered down standardized testing.

Time for the teachers to demand money and support from their union to inform parents of the danger of the attack on teachers.

Role for Teachers Is Seen in Solving Schools’ Crises
By SAM DILLON

Published: February 15, 2011
Charles Taylor Kerchner, a professor of education at Claremont Graduate University who studies labor union history, said, “This is the harshest time for teachers’ unions that I’ve seen since the advent of legislatively sanctioned collective bargaining half a century ago.”

Posted by: bsallamack | February 15, 2011 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to Jeff Steele, Ed Harris and Guy Brandenburg for their vigilance and to Jay for hosting the debate. I’m going to present some middle-of-the-road thoughts on this subject.

A moment of reflection for us all, as educators:

We have all glossed over the negatives in our personal and professional past.
We have all treated a student badly, and come to regret at some point in time.

We all want to make our education systems better. Most of us would take the opportunity to run a troubled school system. Few, if any, could do a perfect job and keep every constituent happy.

Rhee’s Experiment:

Rarely has a superintendent or chancellor had the opportunity to make so many institutional changes for a large school system. Michelle Rhee took on issues and made decisions that few before or after her time will be able to approach. It may take some years to find out if her decision-making was effective. We should ask the students their opinions and outcomes. They tend to have insight that is just as valid as any data set.

Mayor Fenty and Chancellor Rhee made DC citizens a promise to reform the city’s schools. To do so, they initiated several risky experimental policy reforms. These policies resulted in hundreds losing jobs and being replaced—a brutal and difficult trial for those laid-off. New educators and administrators came into the system. Let us hope this resulted in the betterment of students.

Experiments often fail. The road to lasting reform and innovation for any institution is littered with abandoned proposals, projects and prototypes. However, I admire those who take the opportunity to attempt positive change for schools. Too often they are beat-down by a system or traditions that the rest of us are too fearful to challenge.

Teach for America:

Just because Rhee and TFA share a history does not mean that we should reduce or eliminate the organization’s funding. I agree with Richard Cohen’s recent opinion on the subject, but think we should go further to expand the program (See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/14/AR2011021404498.html?nav=hcmoduletmv ).

Posted by: professor70 | February 16, 2011 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Professor70 -

Your statement is hardly middle of the road. All that comment did was get me to read the rest of your post, which was an obvious advertisement for the current brand of school reform.

How patronizing for you to state that “all teachers” have glossed over their faults or have treated a student badly. It’s as if you felt the need to place all teachers in a negative light before giving them a lecture on why they should accept your imperious, professorial points of view about reform.

Posted by: efavorite | February 16, 2011 6:17 AM | Report abuse

frankb1,

Glad you are reading the book, I am frankly interested in it but haven't read it.

Some questions for you.

Do you understand that Rhee based her reforms on data? She based her reforms on her claims of how the data in her classroom "transformed her"? She based her reforms on how much she improved the scores? Her "caring" was demonstrated (in her mind and then the nations') via that supposed huge growth?
All who questioned both her data and the reform that meant all teaching should be defined by data, were only looking out for themselves (despite those questioning never, ever taping students' mouth shut)?

Teachers know how well their students are performing without their principal telling them. When they take a test, whether a teacher created test or a test provided by the private group they work for, they can watch and see how the kids are reacting to the test. Are there a ton of heavy sighs meaning they haven't a clue what the answer is. Are there smiles with quick writing (bubbling in). Teachers know before and after the test how well kids will do and how well they did. If a teacher had even one student going from the 13th to the 90th in terms of understanding their material, they would know it. The student would be more engaged, raising their hand, smiling and enjoying the whole learning environment when they are at the 90th percentile. At the 13th they ask to go to the bathroom when things get tough, they fall asleep, they bother other children when they are struggling so much with learning the material.

That is what stood out to me; she touted the scores, her transformation based on those scores. She didn't tout her 2nd and 3rd grade students Suzy, and Johnny suddenly reading chapter books, suddenly having number sense, she didn't tout her joy of the moment the kids "got it" in front of her. She touted numbers.
That isn't putting "Students First"

The numbers she touted were not real. The numbers she touted were not backed up by her students performance in the classroom, otherwise she would have mentioned that.

She is not a child advocate. Child advocates do not tape their mouths. Child advocates don't see them as made up numbers.

Whatever you want to believe about her, you can't possibly believe she puts students first.

Posted by: researcher2 | February 16, 2011 6:19 AM | Report abuse

For professor70 and for real teachers.

The world according to Ms. Rhee.

According to Ms. Rhee the reason there is large numbers of children that do not learn in public schools is not because these children have difficulties, but because teachers are incompetent.

Supposedly there is not the normal few incompetents in teaching that is found in any profession, but instead massive numbers that need to be weeded out.

And the results of standardized tests will allow for the weeding out of these massive numbers of incompetents teachers.

Since there has always been the problem of large number of children that do not learn since the start of public education in this country began, then it follows from the logic of Ms. Rhee that there must always have been massive numbers of teachers that were incompetent.

Time to recognize that when the political leaders speak about TFA, standardized testing,and accountability, they are not talking about dealing with the large numbers of children that have difficulties in learning, but rather weeding out the massive numbers of incompetent teachers that supposedly have always existed in this country.

Time to recognize that the idea of Ms. Rhee of massive numbers of incompetent teachers is as false as the claim on her resume that she has been forced to admits was false.

Teachers try to be fair but it is time to recognize that the starting premise of those who support TFA, standardized testing, and accountability is that there is massive numbers of incompetent teachers in the public school.

Time to recognize when political leaders supposedly praise some teachers and then talk about accountability for teachers, they simply are expressing there policy to weed out the supposedly massive numbers of incompetent teachers that exist in public schools.

There is no sense in a teacher attempting to be fair when the actuality is that the proponents of TFA, standardization, and accountability would consider that fair teacher to probably be one of the massive number of incompetent teachers that have to be weeded out.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Is anybody else tired of hearing about Michelle Rhee? I mean, I know it gets these education reporters a lot of "hits," but I suspect that it is actually harmful for DC kids who are stick in DC schools that are still selling them short. It's the journalistic equivalent of, "hey, look over here!"

I'd love to see Mr. Mathews and Ms. Strauss actually go to a few DCPS schools. Interview some parents, kids, teachers, check out the curriculum and assigned work. I know many parents of 9th graders at Wilson, for example, who are very disappointed at the low quality of teaching and curriculum. There are virtually no writing assignments. Let's focus on what's important for DC kids, and at this point, I don't think that's Michelle Rhee.

Posted by: trace1 | February 16, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse


efavorite:

My post didn't advertise or advocate for a brand of school reform. I just feel that education systems should be flexible and adaptive to changing needs of students. As soon as a school system becomes stuck in a tradition or dominant paradigm, then quality learning begins to degrade. Stagnation, such as the kind seen in DCPS, comes from a lack of adaptation to student needs; the results of dynamic social, economic and technological forces in the community.

My concern is that students do not seem to be asked what they think regarding policies and program changes. It is arrogant for us to think that they don’t know or are unable to provide effective feedback on education service provision. When we only standardized multiple-choice questions to rate student achievement and thus rate teachers and schools, the result is a limited quantitative data set that must be read with several assumptions.

I agree that standardized testing can be taken too far, but there are some needs for it. Consider that this whole blog thread is based upon a re-evaluation of testing data.

Let’s not conflate TFA and standardized testing, as bsallamack has. I do agree with him that addressing learning difficulties of individual students should be our focus, as opposed to raising collective test scores and assuming everyone’s lives are better.

Agreeing with bsallamack--now that’s finding the middle-of-the-road!

Posted by: professor70 | February 16, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

researcher2: "The numbers she touted were not backed up by her students performance in the classroom."

Whitmire's reporting clearly establishes that a transformation did occur in Rhee's Baltimore classroom, he writes an entire chapter about it: "The Transformation Begins". It's 20 pages, detailing extraordinary leaps in learning Rhee (and those around her) saw in her classroom.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 16, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

frankb1,
Please share her student anecdotes from that chapter that aren't based on the "numbers" her principal provided her.
Please demonstrate Rhee's comments on her students that aren't ones of frustration (eating the bee was, as was taping their mouths shut). Teachers who are frustrated with students, are typically frustrated when the students "don't get it" One would assume that she would have many wonderful anecdotes, not involving taping her students mouths shut, once she her classroom was transformed. The transformation would include her decreasing frustration with her students, as they "got it" in class.

Posted by: researcher2 | February 16, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Trace1, I'm very tired of hearing about Rhee. I wish she'd just go away, but she isn't.

Now she's screwing up education all across the country, I care about those kids, too, not just the kids in DC.

Posted by: efavorite | February 16, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Frank,

Your reasoning style is very similar to a door-to-door religious wacko. They would say stuff like, "It is that way because the Bible said so. Here let me quote you some scripture to prove it to you." Your argument is basically the same junk. It is circular, begging the question to be exact. You are building your whole argument on a book that was written well before most knew that the hard data even existed, while simultaneously ignoring to use the hard evidence in your argumentation.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 16, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to Jeff Steele, Ed Harris, G.F. Brandenburg and Jay Mathews for this information. I am very thank-ful to all of you!

I sure wish we had know about Mr. Steele's report in 2007. At least he put it out on the internet so people could find it.

Posted by: educationlover54 | February 16, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Professor DHume1--why not put down your tissues and look forward rather than down? Turn this self-gratifying thread around, eh?

What is your view about Gray's reported leaning to retain K. Henderson permanently?

Posted by: axolotl | February 16, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Porwigle,

It's hard to "pin" Henderson down, so at this moment, I'm not sure. I always fall on the side of skepticism.

BTW you could have easily turned your first statement into a well metered attack. It had some potential but ended in the sod. Dust yourself off and try again, eh?

Posted by: DHume1 | February 16, 2011 11:48 AM | Report abuse

For trace1---You are absolutely right about the lack of writing assignments, but it is not just Wilson. That is a regional and national problem. I have had several columns about it in the last few years, particularly in my Thursday Local Living space.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | February 16, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Great debate. Some nice shoutouts to me which I appreciate. For Lacy41, note that in the column I said Rhee killed and swallowed the bee. I thought the order of those verbs would make clear the poor creature was not still buzzing in fright and anger when he descended her throat.

For edlharris---Thanks for the vivid painting account. That is what I call fine reporting, which is yr speciality, obviously.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | February 16, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the lack of writing assignments at Wilson is related to the highly regarded, but "ineffective" rated English teacher who gave a lot of writing assignments, but didn't do the IMPACT required song and dance during class.

Teachers don't get any credit on IMPACT for things the master educators don't see while they're in the classroom, like reading kids' writing assignments, so I wouldn't be surprised if teachers now spend more time planning classroom interventions than they do assigning and reading papers.

Posted by: efavorite | February 16, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

educationlover54: "I sure wish we had know about Mr. Steele's report in 2007."

And what effect do you think it would have had?

Do you think that Fenty would have made a different decision in hiring Rhee (it was solely his decision)?

He hired Rhee because she was willing to challenge the status quo at DCPS which declared: "we're doing the best we can with the flawed children sent our way."

Would the WaPo editorial board been any less supportive of Rhee's reform agenda?

Randi Weingarten and AFT despised Rhee for what she did to them in NYC. They vowed to "take her down" in 2007. The WTA & AFT know they can't win on the substance of reform in DCPS, but they are very skilled and deft at the politics of personal destruction.

This Brandenburg episode is a continuation of that campaign to discredit Rhee, and the reforms she put in place at DCPS.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 16, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Rhee's latest data misinformation:

Michelle Rhee: "When I travel around the country talking about these issues, I inevitably come up against, you know, wealthy folks in the suburbs who say, 'Well, but my kids are fine’… I say, 'Did you know that the top 5 percent of kids in America, the top five — the ones that are going to Choate and Andover and all these great places, they are 25th out of 30 nations, compared to their global counterparts?’''

Original comment:
http://www.thedaily.com/page/2011/02/09/020911-news-education-day1-1-6/

Analysis of how it’s incorrect:
http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2011/02/michelle-rhee-liar-who-just-keeps-on.html

Posted by: efavorite | February 16, 2011 1:20 PM | Report abuse

DHume1: "It's hard to "pin" Henderson down, so at this moment, I'm not sure. I always fall on the side of skepticism."

Kaya Henderson will continue (and perhaps accelerate) the impressive reforms Rhee put in place at DCPS.

From Henderson's Teach for America speech February 12, 2011:

"We are making history right here in the nation's capital...Some of you think it's over, it isn't over ..we're just getting started....this is the revolution that we all dreamed about...we went through a bloody battle to build a firm foundation so that we can provide these student with the education they deserve."

Full speech at: http://vimeo.com/19899601

Posted by: frankb1 | February 16, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

frankb - thanks - it's helpful to see how a true believer's mind works.

Posted by: efavorite | February 16, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Frank,

Finally a mature argument.

Here's my response: It IS possible in all possible worlds that it might have happened some other way.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 16, 2011 1:33 PM | Report abuse

A moment of reflection for us all, as educators:

We have all glossed over the negatives in our personal and professional past.
We have all treated a student badly, and come to regret at some point in time.
Posted by: professor70
...................

Should it be preacher70 instead of professor70?

Experiments often fail.

What experiment?

Ms. Rhee came in with one fixed idea that is the premise of the entire reform movement.

That idea is that the reason for the failures of large numbers of students is large number of incompetent teachers.

To Ms. Rhee the failure of 50 percent of students indicates 50 percent of incompetent teachers.

That is it plain and simple.

And TFA is simply based upon this premise with the idea that since there are so many incompetent qualified teachers one could use off the street college graduates to replace these incompetent teachers.

Billions are being spent on standardized tests and computer analysis of tests based on the premise that these tests will weed out the large number of incompetent teachers.

Of course the fans of Ms. Rhee never look at the fact that Ms. Rhee fired almost one quarter of the teachers in D.C. and replaced them with supposedly competent teachers yet there was no dramatic increase on the national 2009 reading test in comparison to 2007.

If Ms. Rhee idea was correct there should have been a dramatic increase from 2007 while the reality is the that the previous Chancellor had a higher increas in scores in reading from 2005 to 2007.

Reading scores for Ms. Rhee from 2007 to 2009 increased a total of 6 points.

Reading scores for the previous chancellor from 2005 to 2007 increased a total of 9 points.

The reality is that the increase in reading scores dropped with Ms. Rhee.

Spending money on the worthless idea of Ms. Rhee was not an experiment but simply a waste of money.

And like it or not Ms. Rhee has been billed as the poster child of TFA since 2007. Time to accept that we have already had enough of the "experiment" of off the street teachers.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Randi Weingarten and AFT despised Rhee for what she did to them in NYC.

Posted by: frankb1
...................
Interesting that the supporters of saint Rhee demand "proof" that Ms. Rhee lied while feel no hesitancy in mentioning others in a somewhat disparaging manner without going into details.

By the way frankb1 would you define "despising" as the same as holding someone in total contempt continuous repetition of on absurd idea.

Did Randi Weingarten and AFT admit that they despised Ms. Rhee?

By the way frankb1 was Randi Weingarten and AFT justified for despising Ms. Rhee or not justified for despising Ms. Rhee.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 2:00 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack: So what does an analysis of DCPS test scores during Rhee's tenure show?

Again from Whitmire's book:

"True, elementary scores did dip (although secondary school score rose). But was that a setback for Rhee's reforms? A simple check of the test scores for the charter school students in Washington, DC - students over whom Rhee had no control and who attended a variety of different schools - reveals striking similar "setbacks", often matching grade by grade, subject by subject. For example, reading scores for sixth-grade DCPS students fell by 10.6 percent. For charter students they fell by 11 percent. Coincidence? Not likely."

Are you suggesting that DCPS were in good shape in 2007?

According to the Post:

"As Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) prepares this week to become the first Washington mayor with direct control of the schools, his team promises a clean slate and a rapid turnaround. Yet a detailed assessment of the state of the school system, based on extensive public records, suggests that the challenge is enormous: The system is among the highest-spending and worst-performing in the nation."

"Tests show that in reading and math, the District's public school students score at the bottom among 11 major city school systems, even when poor children are compared only with other poor children. Thirty-three percent of poor fourth-graders across the nation lacked basic skills in math, but in the District, the figure was 62 percent. It was 74 percent for D.C. eighth-graders, compared with 49 percent nationally."

"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 16, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Frank,

You said "Kaya Henderson will continue (and perhaps accelerate) the impressive reforms Rhee put in place at DCPS."

Campaign promises and wishes are dreams of a different sort.For instance, Obama also stated quite clearly that he would close Guantanamo. Did that happen? What one does and what one says are two separate things when reality starts scratching at the face. Anyone who thinks any differently is a naive, fill-in-the-bubble head.

I've heard much sound and fury, but so far it has amounted to nothing. Facts and actions speak more clearly to me than fist shaking and buffoons who argue in circles.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 16, 2011 2:26 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack: So what does an analysis of DCPS test scores during Rhee's tenure show?
Posted by: frankb1
..........................
Nothing I only consider national tests as valid.

The use of the DCPS local standardized tests are simply a waste of money.

Based upon the national test scores the D.C. school system was better with the previous Chancellor before Ms. Rhee.

By the way you have not commented on the fact that the national scores showed that her idea was false since there was no dramatic increase in scores even though she fired so many teachers.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack: "was Randi Weingarten and AFT justified for despising Ms. Rhee."

Yes, they were justified all right!

In 2005 Rhee exposed, then help reform ridiculous rules governing “voluntary transfers” and “excessed teachers" in NYC public schools.

These sacred union rules mandated that NYC public schools accept incompetent and ineffective classroom teachers fired from other NYC public schools.

Once exposed, Weingarten's union was forced to accept changes to the contract. Rhee upset the apple cart.

From the Unintended Consequences Report:

"Nearly everyone involved in the enterprise of schooling understands the profound importance of building and sustaining a high-quality team of teachers. Moreover, the research is clear: the single most important school-based determinant of student achievement is the quality of the teacher in the classroom.

Yet, urban schools must often staff their classrooms with little or no attention to quality or fit because of the staffing rules in their teachers union contracts.
This report focuses on the contractual staffing rules governing “voluntary transfers” and “excessed teachers."

http://tntp.org/files/UnintendedConsequences.pdf

Posted by: frankb1 | February 16, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

frankb1,
I am still waiting for Rhee's student anecdotes describing their "aha" moments when they got what she was teaching them. The joy she felt when they were reading chapter books, the joy she had when they obtained number sense. All those anecdotes that any teacher who truly worked with 2nd and 3rd grade students would share, especially a teacher who transformed her class from 13 to a supposed 90 percentile (or even from 23% to 50%).

Posted by: researcher2 | February 16, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Let’s not conflate TFA and standardized testing, as bsallamack has. I do agree with him that addressing learning difficulties of individual students should be our focus, as opposed to raising collective test scores and assuming everyone’s lives are better.

Agreeing with bsallamack--now that’s finding the middle-of-the-road!

Posted by: professor70
.............................
"as opposed to raising collective test scores"

Please do not infer that I said this.

I said that the reform movement is based upon the false idea of supposedly large number of incompetent teachers that are responsible for the large number of students that fail.

If this administration did not believe that there are large number of incompetent teachers that are responsible for the large number of students that fail then, then how could they equate a TFA off the street with a certified teacher.

The use of TFA in national policy is simply based upon the false idea that there are large number of incompetent teachers that are responsible for the large number of students that fail and so these certified teachers can be replaced with the off the street teachers.

For every movement there is an underlying idea. Companies use computers based upon the underlying idea that they can lower costs. No company would use computers if people at a lower cost could perform the same tasks as well as computers at a higher cost.

The underlying idea of the national policies in education and of the "reform" movement is the false idea that there are large number of incompetent teachers that are responsible for the large number of students that fail.

An honest review of national policies in education and of the "reform" movement would show that "that addressing learning difficulties of individual students" is not the focus of national policies in education and of the "reform" movement, since this would be contrary to national policy based upon the belief that large number of incompetent teachers are responsible for the large number of students that fail.

Billions are being spent simply to weed out the supposedly large number of incompetent teachers responsible for the large number of students that fail.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 3:38 PM | Report abuse

... For Lacy41, note that in the column I said Rhee killed and swallowed the bee. I thought the order of those verbs would make clear the poor creature was not still buzzing in fright and anger when he descended her throat.

Posted by: Jay Mathews
.........................
Jay Mathews needs to understand that almost no one takes his articles serious so they do not really read his articles.

Most readers simply see this as a place for debate. This is why there are many times when there a great deal of debate that which simply ignores the article of Jay Mathews.

The reality is that most readers come to view the comments of other and not carefully read an article that is probably not worth reading.

Still waiting for a description of your conversation with Ms. Rhee last week. I am sure everyone would like to read that.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 3:47 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack: "national test scores the D.C. school system was better with the previous Chancellor before Ms. Rhee"

According to the Washington Post:

"Scores: They are indeed up, continuing a trend that began under Rhee's predecessor, former superintendent Clifford Janey. The three-year record shows double-digit growth in secondary school scores on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System -- an average gain of 14 percentage points in the reading pass rate and 17 points in the math rate. Experts say those gains surpass the norm for large urban school districts.

"There is no question in my mind that the schools are better," said Kati Haycock, president of the D.C.-based Education Trust, an advocate for disadvantaged students.

But this year, elementary pass rates declined about 4.5 points. That setback followed gains of 19 points in math and 11 points in reading from 2007 to 2009. Rhee said she is analyzing the results but has no answers yet."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/18/AR2010081806726.html

Posted by: frankb1 | February 16, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Regarding Ed Harris' question above: Would a Baltimore teacher have seen her students' test scores?

Several points:

First: Rhee left Baltimore after the school year in question. She quite possibly wasn't around by the time the test results came back.

Second: I take it as fairly obvious that Rhee put in a lot of effort with these, her two-year students. I would be amazed if she didn't make a point of finding out how well they had tested.

I taught in Baltimore elementary schools from 1969 through 1978. (In junior highs through 1982.) At that time, any teacher would have seen the full print-out of all his students' test results. I'm surprised by Rhee's suggestion that this wasn't the case in the mid-1990s, but I wasn't there.

One last point: The most remarkable thing about the UMBC report is the high number of students who went untested. At an astounding 36 percent, Rhee's school had the highest rate. But the percentages of kids who didn't get tested are astoundingly high at all the schools. This point alone deserves a full re-examination.

From my experience, I can't imagine more than a few percent of students going untested. (Anything more strikes me as gross negligence.) The study's reported non-tested rates strike me as bizarre.

Posted by: bobsomerby | February 16, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Mathews:

You note that I'm right about the lack of writing assignments in DCPS, but go on to say that it is a "regional and national problem."

Let's face it: it is particularly egregious in DC, where a good chunk of the teaching staff is simply not qualified to teach writing. A friend's daughter transferred from DCPS to Montgomery County schools recently and was shocked at the rigorous writing standards she encountered there; she was absolutely unprepared by her 6 years in DCPS.

So this can't be dismissed wholesale as a "regional" problem. I think you would do the kids of DC some good if you pounded the pavement (or hallways) of DC schools and actually shed some light on what is going on.

Moreover, this isn't just about writing. My son, when at Deal Middle School, did not have any labs at all in his science class, never mind lab reports. He only had PE for half of the year. Did you know that 6th graders have lunch at 10:45 am at Deal and are forbidden to eat anything until they leave school at the end of the day? Get inside these schools and see what is going on -- and not going on.

Enough of the Rhee sideshow already. The relentless focus is detracting from education issues that should be discussed.

Posted by: trace1 | February 16, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Moreover, the research is clear: the single most important school-based determinant of student achievement is the quality of the teacher in the classroom.
Posted by: frankb1
.....................
The usual falsehood based upon popular misconception.

Place the most qualified teacher in the world in a classroom of chairs and one would not get much achievement.

So I guess teaching actually has to consider the students in a classroom.

And I put my money not on the teacher but the capabilities and abilities of the students of the classroom.

Students with high capabilities and abilities can learn with an average teacher.

Students with low capabilities and low abilities can not learn with even the best teacher in the world. Put the best teacher in the world in a 9th grade classroom with all the students unable to read and there will be no student achievement as measured on one of the standardized test that Ms. Rhee so favors.

Also if the only thing that was important was the teacher we would have every student in a classroom obtaining the same high score on a test with the best teacher in the world.

Time to recognize that the abilities and capabilities of students are more important then the teacher assigned to a classroom and that your trite attempts at false logic are rather childish.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Mathews:

You note that I'm right about the lack of writing assignments in DCPS, but go on to say that it is a "regional and national problem."
...A friend's daughter transferred from DCPS to Montgomery County schools recently and was shocked at the rigorous writing standards she encountered there; she was absolutely unprepared by her 6 years in DCPS.

Enough of the Rhee sideshow already. The relentless focus is detracting from education issues that should be discussed.
Posted by: trace1
...........................
But the discussion is about Ms. Rhee since for the last three years she ran the D.C. school system.

There is no need to physically visit the poor public schools of D.C.

For 3 years these schools have had continuous turnovers of teachers. There has been a focus on math since this is the subject where the standardized tests can easily go up by using "teach to the test".

The focus on education for the last three years has simply been on test prep for the standardized tests since teachers believed this might save them from being fired.

By the way I knew of a title 1 primary school that before NCLB had a computer lab for writing.

But that was before we found out every child is the same in regarding to the ability to learn.

Better consider that it will take at least two years to undue the damage of the last 3 years.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack,

I had kids in DCPS before Rhee became Chancellor. For you to talk about the time it will take to undue [sic] the damage of the last 3 years is absurd. DCPS has been a sanctuary for incompetence and dysfunction for decades.

Posted by: trace1 | February 16, 2011 5:19 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack,

I had kids in DCPS before Rhee became Chancellor. For you to talk about the time it will take to undue [sic] the damage of the last 3 years is absurd. DCPS has been a sanctuary for incompetence and dysfunction for decades.

Posted by: trace1
..................
And I suppose that all the poverty schools that test poorly have been sanctuaries for incompetence and dysfunction.

And then there are the poverty public schools of fifty years ago with large numbers of students that failed. I suppose that these also were sanctuaries for incompetence and dysfunction.

Meanwhile for the decades that D.C. has been a sanctuaries for incompetence and dysfunction D.C. has been running the middle class public schools that test highest in the nation on national tests.

Perhaps we should start to hear from D.C. an explanation of the sanctuaries for incompetence and dysfunction also running public schools that have top grades on national tests.

D.C. just finished 3 years with Ms. Rhee and her false idea that the fault was incompetent teachers but apparently parents still want to continue this idea.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Bsallamack,
You must know that the white kids that test "highest in the nation" all have college-educated parents, or parents with graduate degrees. This is why the DC white kids as a group have higher tests scores than, say, the white kids from the state of New Jersey.

My kids were in those DCPS schools that you speak of -- the ones where kids perform well on standardized tests. I took them all out. They weren't learning how to write well, read critically and analyze deeply. Like most of the other Ward 3 parents, we were teaching that at home. In short, there wasn't enough value-added from the school. But rest assured, they tested fine.

Posted by: trace1 | February 16, 2011 5:50 PM | Report abuse

A great speech from the Teach for America 20th Anniversary Summit

"Not just some children, but all children will have an equal education."

-Jeremy Beard, Houston Independent School District School Improvement Officer

Watch the full speech:

http://vimeo.com/19909263

Posted by: frankb1 | February 16, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Come on frankb1,
Where are Rhee's loving comments about her students after her classroom was transformed? You have quoted from the book regarding other questions, why not my questions?

I can only guess it is because that chapter you mentioned only deals with flawed data that Rhee states her principal told her.

Rhee can't comment on how happy her students were when the "got it" because they never really "got it"

If they had actually improved as much as her principal stated, she would know without the data. She would see kids happy to be in school. She wouldn't be frustrated and resort to eating bees or taping their mouths shout.

My point: she didn't truly care about her students enough to know them as people. She relied on her principal to tell her data. Any teacher whose students scores rose as hers supposedly did would have so many wonderful anecdotes to share she would write a book about them. The book would detail how discouraged they were when they were at 13%, and how their in class skills increased, how they were reading chapter books, how math finally made sense as they leaped toward that incredible 90%. There would be chapter after chapter detailing what she did to ensure the students were getting it. Perhaps one or two pages would be devoted to the pre and post testing that verified they could also master standardized testing; but the bulk of the book would be all of those "aha" moments as the "transformation" took place.

The fact that her reforms are base on her flawed data is indeed very troubling.

Posted by: researcher2 | February 16, 2011 6:14 PM | Report abuse

hmmm, sorry for my many typos

Posted by: researcher2 | February 16, 2011 6:16 PM | Report abuse

"the single most important SCHOOL-BASED determinant of student achievement is the quality of the teacher in the classroom."

Frankb - note the term "School-based."
This means that when the student is inside the school, the teacher is the most important element in achievement - more important than the principal or the librarians, more important than the condition of the building, etc, etc.

It specifically does not address what affects students when they are not in school -- which is most of the time. that would be their parents, their other family, their neighborhood, their living environment, their health and diet, etc, etc,

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

Posted by: trace1
...............
An interesting fact about Ms. Rhee was that it was reported that she was actively campaigning for white families to enroll in D.C. public school.

Meanwhile Ms. Rhee is now claiming: Studentsfirst will work so that great teachers can make a tremendous difference for students of every background.

If according to Ms. Rhee all the children in a classroom are the absolutely the same why would Ms. Rhee have been interested in campaigning for white families to enroll?

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Richard Whitmire will be at Politics & Prose February 20th 2011 5:00 pm talking about his book: The Bee Eater: Michelle Rhee Takes on the Nation's Worst School District.

http://www.politics-prose.com/event/book/richard-whitmire-bee-eater

Posted by: frankb1 | February 16, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: efavorite
.......................
I have to disagree since "the single most important SCHOOL-BASED determinant of student achievement is the quality of the teacher in the classroom." is neither true or false since it is meaningless.

This idea makes very no sense even when it comes to the "quality" of teachers. There really is no such thing as a quality ranking of teachers.

Which should have the higher ranking in quality?

Teacher A that does well with average students or teacher B that does well with above average students.

Then of course there is teacher C that does well with a certain skill mix of students.

The reality is that there is no such thing as the "quality" of the teacher since we can not rank teachers to determine their quality rating.

There is such a thing as the quality of a diamond but there are set definitions of physical characteristic that allow one to specify the quality of an individual diamond.

But where are these supposedly characteristics that allow us to identify the "quality" of a teacher.

There are none.

Time to recognize that everyone throws around terms such "quality of a teacher" but the reality is that this term is meaningless.

Interesting that those who come up with these meaningless terms claim that there is not difference between a qualified teacher and a non qualified teacher when there actually are very complete definitions that define whether a teacher is qualified or not.

Besides I still say that the skills and abilities of those in the classroom are more important to determine test scores than the teacher. And oh by the way the school determines which students are placed in which class. And the schools also could use test scores to actually rank these scores.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Richard Whitmire will be at Politics & Prose February 20th 2011 5:00 pm talking about his book: The Bee Eater: Michelle Rhee Takes on the Nation's Worst School District.

Posted by: frankb1
.............................
Wonder if Richard Whitmire has already made the changes and corrections so that the admission by Ms. Rhee of the false claim in 2007 will appear in the next print edition of his book?

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey Frank,

I can't wait till February 20th. Email your God now so we can hear the sermon from the mount ASAP.

Everyone else can email the Big Dude as well. With as many comments as this article has received, it would be nice if Frank's God came in and settled the score.

Here's his email address: richard.whitmire@gmail.com

Posted by: DHume1 | February 16, 2011 7:28 PM | Report abuse

...note that in the column I said Rhee killed and swallowed the bee. I thought the order of those verbs would make clear the poor creature was not still buzzing in fright and anger when he descended her throat.

Posted by: Jay Mathews
.................
Question was it a bee or wasp since many people will call a wasp a bee?

I ask since wasps will enter a building but it is unusual for bees to enter a building.

Perhaps we could have a more thorough description from Ms. Rhee regarding her method of capture.

If it was a bee did Ms. Rhee feels it was appropriate after swallowing the bee to have a teaching moment to describe the role of bees in agriculture?

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 7:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm tempted to go to Politics and Prose. I wonder what Richard Whitmire would say to me.
"Gee, thanks for making my book out-of-date in one day."

Me:"When then next time hire me to do your research."

Posted by: edlharris | February 16, 2011 8:12 PM | Report abuse

DHume1,
I've yet to stop by Borders to skim the Bee-Eater.
If you (or anyone else) has skimmed it, what does Richard Whitmire write about the adoring press Michelle also claimed to have received from the Hartford Courant, Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America and the Home Show?

Posted by: edlharris | February 16, 2011 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Good Morning America and the Home Show?

Posted by: edlharris
........................
Wonder if Ms. Rhee demonstrated on TV eating a bee (or wasp since there is an outstanding question on that point to Jay Mathews)?

Think of viewers also getting a demo of taping the mouth of children?

The resume of Ms. Rhee does say:
Classroom practices featured on “The Home Show”

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Ed,

If Whitmire is a good guy, he'll want to talk with you. Perhaps both of you together might be able to flesh out more stuff.

I don't know myself(about the book). I haven't even seen the book in my local bookstore and it has been checked out from the Library where I work. I ordered it from Amazon yesterday. I would say you should ask Frank, but his adoration has turned into dogma.

I should be able to pick the book up before the end of the week.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 16, 2011 8:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm tempted to go to Politics and Prose. I wonder what Richard Whitmire would say to me.
"Gee, thanks for making my book out-of-date in one day."

Posted by: edlharris
......................
The author will be thanking you.

Now he can edit for the next edition.

Cover for the new edition
Shocking Revelations
Super woman with feet of clay
Admitted abuse of children

Editing will be a snap.

I originally thought ...blah material previously in book
but now I know.. blah blah

I previously thought
Originally I thought
My original thought
I wrote

The possibilities are endless on doing a quick edit of the entire book and not having to do a total rewrite.

The author with the new addition would appear on Oprah with a use of the previous footage of Ms. Rhee.

The book will be a block buster with Americans every where talking about the taping of the mouths of children.

There would be a movie with the great title The Bee Eater. Can you not see the shot of a large harmless bee with the wild attack by the actress playing Ms. Rhee and then the smile after eating the bee? Hollywood could not make up stuff like this.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Ed,
If Whitmire is a good guy, he'll want to talk with you. Perhaps both of you together might be able to flesh out more stuff.
Posted by: DHume1
....................
Ask for a signed agreement.

Having you on as a contributing author would be to his advantage.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: edlharris
......................
Oh and I forgot the preface of the publisher.

We all go through life viewing the world through a lens without understanding the reality we are not seeing.

This is a book of an author who now recognizes the falseness of the lens .....
blah blah blah

Great to add literary pretensions to the new editing, excuse for not doing a total rewrite, excuse for those who are looking for scandal to read the book while pretending that they are not looking for scandal.

Well Ms. Rhee always wanted media coverage.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Is Jay Mathews remaining silent about his conversation with Ms. Rhee since he is doing a new book entitled The Real Bee Eater?

If so he had better hurry before a revised edition of The Bee Eater appears.

Perhaps the Jay Mathews book could be entitled Wasp Not Bee.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Ed and Dhume and FrankB -- see you at Politics and Prose on the 20th.

Wouldn't miss it for the world.

Posted by: efavorite | February 16, 2011 10:01 PM | Report abuse

edlharris: "I'm tempted to go to Politics and Prose, I wonder what Richard Whitmire would say to me."

Well...you did put Rhee back in the news in a big way, which probably was worth a few hundred books at least.

When I first read about the Brandenburg thing I thought for sure it had been orchestrated by Mathews & his buddy Whitmire to gin up interest in order to sell books.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 16, 2011 10:31 PM | Report abuse

edlharris: "what does Richard Whitmire write about the adoring press Michelle also claimed to have received from the Hartford Courant, Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America and the Home Show?"

He doesn't write about any of that. So there is clearly an opening for you tome on the subject.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 16, 2011 10:36 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack: "Wonder if Richard Whitmire has already made the changes and corrections so that the admission by Ms. Rhee of the false claim in 2007 will appear in the next print edition of his book?"

Wow.... "false claim"? Everyone is getting so reasonable around here. I'm stunned.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 16, 2011 10:41 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack: "Wonder if Richard Whitmire has already made the changes and corrections so that the admission by Ms. Rhee of the false claim in 2007 will appear in the next print edition of his book?"

Wow.... "false claim"? Everyone is getting so reasonable around here. I'm stunned.

Posted by: frankb1
..........................
Did you not read the article in the Washington Post last Friday.

Also Ms. Rhee on her resume page on her website has absolutely no mention of the test scores of her students when she was a teacher.

I am going to contact some friends to see about recovering the web page for February 1, 2011. Many individuals are not aware that in many cases this can be done if the recovery is done quickly enough after the change to the website.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 16, 2011 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Sorry bsallamack,
it appears that what you see today at her astroturf website is the same bio she put up back in Dec.
At that time, I copied and pasted it on Valerie Strauss's blog.
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/educational-leadership/michelle-rhee-the-celeb-goes-n.html

What I didn't mention at the time because I didn't think any of it was that I had received an email from Michelle telling me that she was upto something new and exciting.
The only way she had my email address was that I had sent an email to her at her DCPS account months before.


Sorry efavorite, I'm not heading out to P&P. But my email can be passed along to Richard if he wants to profit share with me.

Posted by: edlharris | February 16, 2011 11:59 PM | Report abuse

for trace1---Deal seems to be moving to the MYP program which means Wilson should be an IB school before long. IB forces lots of writing. Will that work for you?

Posted by: jaymathews | February 17, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Mathews,
Deal already is an MYP school as far as I know.

As for whether a particular school label "works" for me? Nah. It depends on what is being studied, assigned, and how a student is guided through that work (i.e., the quality of the teaching that goes along with it.)

As for a program "forcing lots of writing" being good enough? Nah to that, too. My kids did plenty of self-directed writing at their Ward 3 elementary school (of the self-esteem boosting, write-what-you-feel/observe in your daily-journal-sort) and were completely blind-sided when they went on to private school. Their writing teachers practically snorted at the lack of structure and absence of grammar instruction in the writing "program" they used at DCPS.

Why not spend a day as a student at some of these DCPS schools? That would make for an interesting and useful column.

In any event, Dana Millbank declared a moratorium on reporting on Sarah Palin. Can't the Post's educational reporters do the same with Rhee?

Posted by: trace1 | February 17, 2011 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Ed, efav, Dhume and FrankB

When you go to P&P you may want to ask Whitmire why he's still lying about Rhee. Here's the last line of the aol article: "Public mood on this issue seems to be swinging Rhee's way. And the odds of her making a significant difference nationally are certainly no longer than the odds she faced in D.C., where she boosted student learning more than anyone could have imagined." Whitmire has no more interest in telling the truth than Rhee does. Of course, no ,ention of the test-score lie in hip puff-piece.
http://www.aolnews.com/team/richard-whitmire/

Posted by: mcstowy | February 17, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

mcstowy - come to P&P and ask Whitmire what he means by boosting student learning "more than anyone could have imagined."

Notices he didn't say "scores" and he didn't give numbers.

Clever.

Posted by: efavorite | February 17, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

for trace1--- I have spent a lot of time in DCPS classrooms and written many stories about those experiences. Much of my last book reported the life of one student in one DC charter school. It is a good idea to try it again. Thanks. I like your idea of a Rhee moratorium. I have no more Rhee columns planned in the foreseeable future. But I will probably buy a copy of "Waiting For 'Superman'" and show it to my mom.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | February 17, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse

mcstowy - come to P&P and ask Whitmire what he means by boosting student learning "more than anyone could have imagined."

Notices he didn't say "scores" and he didn't give numbers.

Clever.

Posted by: efavorite

I'd love to take the opportunity to dust off my old x-exam skills, but I'll be dusting off my mogul skills with my kids instead, unless all the snow melts by Sunday. Is Whitmire's book the Matthew, Mark, Luke or John of the Rhee SACRED STORY?

Posted by: mcstowy | February 17, 2011 6:03 PM | Report abuse

I was reading through some of Bob Somersby's work at the dailyhowler.com and I followed a link to a story from 2007 in the Washington Times.
Here's an interesting quote, followed by the link:
"Linda Carter, Harlem Park's former principal, said after her testimony that she at one time had a document that listed Harlem Park test scores by grade level and school comparison. Those scores showed significant gains, Ms.Carter said, and she told the council that she had seen documentation showing gains of more than 50 percent in at least the third and fifth grades at Harlem Park."

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2007/jul/3/rhee-vows-to-brighten-schools/print/

The there is this quote:
"Mrs. Rhee, who was in her early 20s while at the school, said she did not remember the size of her class."

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2007/jun/28/schools-nominee-fails-to-validate-success/print/

Posted by: edlharris | February 17, 2011 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Michelle Rhee is now lying about other people's test scores:

http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2011/02/michelle-rhee-liar-who-just-keeps-on.html

Posted by: chicogal | February 18, 2011 2:30 AM | Report abuse

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