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Posted at 5:56 PM ET, 02/ 9/2011

Rhee's response to blogger's allegations

By Washington Post editors

Michelle Rhee's advocacy group, StudentsFirst, on Wednesday evening issued a statement challenging blogger G.F. Brandenburg's account of her record as a Baltimore school teacher. The entire statement appears below:

"A Response to the Unfounded Attacks on Michelle Rhee
Our schools are in crisis. Instead of talking about how to fix them, we're getting unfounded attacks on Michelle. To get back to the debate about public schools, we want to address this misinformation head-on.
A blogger has posted some error-laden numbers, based on a 1995 study, claiming that Michelle was not an effective teacher. A couple of mainstream journalists have picked up and re-broadcast this storyline without reviewing the underlying analysis.
Here are the underlying facts about the 1995 study:
This was not a study of Michelle's students. It was a study of the school's entire grade level, which had four teachers.
There is no way to know if any of Michelle's students were even included in this study. The study included only certain students at the school, and excluded large numbers from their sample.
Some have expressed surprise that credible journalists would swallow a blogger’s analysis without looking at the facts for themselves. We were quite frankly surprised ourselves. To our members, this episode is further proof of what we're up against and why we need your support to get the message out."

By Washington Post editors  | February 9, 2011; 5:56 PM ET
 
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Next: The amazing Harriett Ball

Comments

Did I miss something? The main thrust of the analysis suggests that her gains were grossly overstated (90% versus 50%), not that she was ineffective. Got her running scared now. Her cult following is so dependent on this story of her as a miracle worker in the classroom. If that narrative collapses, her goal of raising $1b may suffer.

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | February 9, 2011 6:21 PM | Report abuse

This "episode" is called freedom of the press.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 9, 2011 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps this is as good a time as ever for Ms Rhee to explain the taping of 1st graders mouths and retelling the story 16 years later as an amusing anecdote.

I wrote about, in my own special way, her taping incident on my blog back in December.

http://southbronxschool.blogspot.com/2010/12/duct-taping-michelle-rhee.html

Posted by: sobronxschool1 | February 9, 2011 6:32 PM | Report abuse

What kind of response is this???
Rhee is just making herself look even worse.
So Rhee said "There is no way to know if any of Michelle's students were even included in this study". Then, where 's the evidence that support her own claim that her students went from 13 to 90 percentile?
It doesn't matter if the blogger is attacking or not, Michelle Rhee is still a liar that made things up.
Show me the evidence that you were an effective teacher, Ms Rhee. Talk is CHEAP!

Posted by: washingtonian2011 | February 9, 2011 6:34 PM | Report abuse

The only "surprise" here is that Michelle Rhee is now being exposed for who she really is: a fraud and an opportunist.

And please stop using students as pawns. Michelle is not about students at all. If she were that committed, she would have stayed in DCPS.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | February 9, 2011 6:43 PM | Report abuse

I like how her handlers frame it as part of some larger conspiracy that has no bearing on her crusade. Quite the opposite, it's a couple of citizen bloggers trying to get to the bottom of a claim that is fundamental to her crusade.

Posted by: joshofstl | February 9, 2011 7:12 PM | Report abuse

We do not need to depend on bloggers to tell us about Michelle Rhee's teaching. All one has to do is read her speeches. Not good.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 9, 2011 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Brandenberg has a response:

http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/were-large-numbers-of-students-not-tested-in-baltimore/

Posted by: joshofstl | February 9, 2011 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Why are the Washington Post editors putting this stuff onto Jay's blog?

Where is Jay?

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 9, 2011 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Her members? Is Mafara Hobson referring to Eli Broad, Bill Gates, and the Walton fortune heirs? That is the composition of the studentsfirst corporate "movement" no?

Posted by: rdsathene | February 9, 2011 7:51 PM | Report abuse

"Some have expressed surprise that credible journalists would swallow a blogger’s analysis without looking at the facts for themselves"

Ok - StudentsFirst - If you've got the data on "michelle's" time in Baltimore -- let;s see them. Rhee is the data queen -- let's have her isolate her data from all the other teachers and let the statisticians analyze it.

Then we can get back to the bigger issue of do we want our schools in crisis to be represented by someone who lied on her resume.

Posted by: efavorite | February 9, 2011 8:09 PM | Report abuse

By the way, this isn't Rhee's response, it's a message from her organization's spokesperson.

I can hardly wait to see the Editoral on this -- unless they hope to contain the episode online.

Posted by: efavorite | February 9, 2011 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Among the people commenting on these Rhee threads have been a couple who have defended Rhee, stating that her effectiveness as a teacher should not be summed up merely by her students' test scores.

Remarkable!

That is precisely what America's teachers have been saying over and over and over to no avail.

It is billionaire-backed Rhee herself who has INSISTED that teachers' worth and value to the children in their care can and should be summed up by their test scores. Even to the point of insisting that teachers be rewarded and punished based on such dubious measures.

It is America's "incompetent" teachers and scholars and researchers like David Berliner, Sharon Nichols, Gerald Bracey, etc. who have warned that when you attach high stakes (life altering consequences) to standardized tests, corruption is inevitable. And oh the corruption and opportunism that is taking place as we speak, in the name of poor children.

America's teachers are savaged and maligned. Rhee is made a national hero.

All the frauds like Waiting for Superman. The Houston Miracle. Duncan's real record in Chicago. Bloomberg and Klein's real record in NYC. The miracle in New Orleans, with Hurricane Katrina being "the best thing that ever happened" to the city.

And Rhee?

"For by the standard that you measure, so shall you be measured".

Rhee has attacked viciously. The media has sucked up the narrative hook, line and sinker. Witness the photo of Rhee on the cover of Time magazine, sweeping the nation of all those lousy teachers who alone are blamed and held responsible for the plight of poor children. Yes, the very people who devote their lives (not just three years) to working with them are singled out as the villains.

Now when confronted with her dishonesty and hypocrisy, her organization attempts to divert attention away from the issue at hand by telling the world that public education is in crisis!

Yes, it is! The greatest crisis in public education is the huge and growing population of poor children in America.

The other great crisis in our schools is that public education itself is under attack. It has been thus for decades, with no help from a clueless and sometimes complicit media.

Currently, Rhee is one of the primary tools in the attack.

Posted by: taunar | February 9, 2011 9:53 PM | Report abuse


"This was not a study of Michelle's students. It was a study of the school's entire grade level, which had four teachers.
There is no way to know if any of Michelle's students were even included in this study."

The premise of this argument does not support its conclusion. The argument is self-contradictory. If her students were part of the grade level, then her students were tested. End of story.

Posted by: chicogal | February 9, 2011 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Michelle,
Since you most certainly have this study, why don't you just show us where it shows the tremendous growth of your students?

Posted by: chicogal | February 9, 2011 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Public education is a failure. Public education is controlled by the teachers union. The union refuses to improve. The union is orchestrating all the criticism of Ms. Rhee. Nothing will change, and education will not improve, until public unions are banned.

Posted by: jaguar6cy | February 9, 2011 11:26 PM | Report abuse

@jaguar6cy

Public education is a failure. Public education is controlled by the teachers union. The union refuses to improve. The union is orchestrating all the criticism of Ms. Rhee. Nothing will change, and education will not improve, until public unions are banned.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - --
Unfortunately, it is not true. And you would understand if you were a teacher. By your comment I'm assuming you are not. It is the ones who meet with the governors behind closed doors who are the culprits. That may be the unions, but it is also the businessmen, the textbook book companies, the professors at arms' length from ground zero who publish or perish, and a whole slew of others. Do your research and you'll see there is only a token teacher in these meetings who has absolutely no say in the matter. And if you don't believe me, sign up for TFA, and I'll see you in a Title I school after a year and we can talk.

Posted by: Playitagainsam | February 9, 2011 11:56 PM | Report abuse

To jaguar6cy:
You said "Public education is controlled by the teachers union". But I don't know any principal or superintendent who was actually assigned by unions. How do unions control public education? You have evidence?

No matter what your opinion is about public education and unions, it's NOT going to change the fact that Michelle Rhee is a liar. Michelle Rhee thinks she's the advocate for children but she's been setting worst examples for children who are watching.

Education is not about test score. It's about learning to be a human being. DC students have learned it's alright to lie and to cheat....all from Michelle Rhee.

Posted by: washingtonian2011 | February 10, 2011 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Jaguar, I'm in a pretty good position to address your comments. I came into the teaching field having heard that unions were the problem in public education. I bought into it a bit. They are problematic in that they obviously do protect all of their members through various means (tenure, procederal red tape, etc.). They survive on tax money, not "opt-in" dues. The WTU has a record of corruption. But, after experience and reflection, I've come to realize that these problems are being magnified all out of proportion to their size. Dealing with 5% of teachers who should be in another field of work by maligning the other 95% is so self-defeating. Attempting to make teachers into "at-will" employees would ensure that corporate interests prevail in schools. I'm capitalist-minded, but in no way would I trust our public school system to corporate-minded folks. They tend to be rapacious and destructive, although their creative side emerges from time-to-time as well. I would posit to you that teacher unions are being scapegoated for much larger societal failings. For example, the income disparity now becoming institutionalized in our country is leaving families decimated by debt and foreclosure. The reckless financial management of firms like Goldman Sachs has created high unemployment. Do you really think kids coming from poor backgrounds or families in acute financial distress can compete regularly with kids not experiencing these environments. Some can, most can't. Teachers, by and large, work hard everyday to help those who are disadvantaged, but don't even try to blame them for not being able to fully address and solve these types of problems. Families are 85% of the education equation. Teachers are roughly the other 15%. The 15% is important and can provide the extra push to the student, but the parents are the ultimate keys.

Please, take a step back and reflect on the destructive rhetoric of people like MR. She has some good criticisms, but her rhetoric is not pushing us forward. She is not a leader although her and her cult loves to emphasize leadership. I have elementary kids in my class that are better leaders than her. They are aware of the need to lead by example and what leadership really is: helping others to move forward. MR is someone who self-promotes at every opportunity. She has become a menace to our country and I hope its time for her to fall off her high horse.

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | February 10, 2011 4:35 AM | Report abuse

A news story that backs up "thetensionmakesitwork"'s point:

While Michelle Rhee got most of the attention during her presentation Wednesday at the Senate Education Pre-K-12 Committee, it is the legislation discussed afterwards that will have the most lasting impact on Florida’s education.

MOST of the reporters and senators, some of whom are not even on the committee,LEFT along with the controversial former chancellor of the Washington, D.C. School District, leaving just three senators to deal with legislation that will tie teacher pay to performance.

http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/senators-show-michelle-rhee-leave-bill

Posted by: edlharris | February 10, 2011 6:35 AM | Report abuse

So, in essence, Ms. Rhee is saying that these scores are a poor determine of her effectiveness as a teacher because she was only one of four teachers who taught the tested students. Doesn't IMPACT, her signature teacher evaluation system, do much the same thing she says shouldn't be done to her? If a percentage of a teacher's rating comes from how well the students scored as a cohort, aren't excellent teachers' scores being hurt because of the work of supposedly ineffective teachers? Doesn't this statement basically contradict her entire view of how teacher effectiveness should be measured?

Posted by: joe_killiany | February 10, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Good God! Michelle Rhee doesn't work here anymore! Why, oh, why is anyone concerned about her misstatement of facts? If edlharris or efavorite spent as much time promoting ways to help students as they do finding ways to rhetorically assassinate folks they clearly can't resolve their resentments towards, the DC public schools would be a bastion of brilliant kids all attending ivy league schools. (And, please, don't respond with "we are helping children by tearing down MR." That is not only logically flawed, but delusional.)

Or perhaps these union hacks can spend some time training their new "leader" to speak English and implement a system of effective professional development that truly helps teachers to improve. To constantly put the blame on the school system just further reinforces my belief that the union doesn't have any GOOD ideas...or the people to implement them. Nathan, do you really want folks to start looking at YOUR students test scores from Annacostia? I'm sure the results won't point to a reasonable facsimile of progress.

Okay, spineless bloggers, I hope I've given you something more to write about...I can't help but laugh at all the preposterous responses one gets when they even attempt to contradict your rubish.

I know, why don't you all do your taxes (like good Americans) and give your refunds to DCPS. I'm sure they could use a couple of extra pennies! I know I do that EVERY year...and it sure does make me feel like I'm doing a little SOMETHING to help kids.

Posted by: feetupwithagrin | February 10, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, back the real world, OSSE selects a charter school teacher for DC "Teacher of the Year" for the third year in a row.

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

"Good God! Michelle Rhee doesn't work here anymore! Why, oh, why is anyone concerned about her misstatement of facts?"

because she's about to pull her con job
on the whole country ?

Posted by: youngWaPoreader | February 10, 2011 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Facts are important.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 10, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Public education is a failure. Public education is controlled by the teachers union. The union refuses to improve. The union is orchestrating all the criticism of Ms. Rhee. Nothing will change, and education will not improve, until public unions are banned.

Posted by: jaguar6cy
........................
This is the insanity of America.

Most public schools in America are middle class schools where for decades national tests report excellent performance. Almost all of these schools have teacher unions and tenure. And in fact the states that do not have teachers unions have been the states low in test results on national tests.

At the same time for decades national tests have indicated poor performance for poverty schools.

The reality is that for decades there has been higher crime rates in poverty areas than in middle class areas but no one is claiming that the high crimes rates are because of police unions since everyone would see how ludicrous this is.

Yes there are serious problems in poverty public schools but this has been true for decades.

Time for recognition that it is absurd to pretend that teacher unions and tenure are the cause of the problem when these are characteristics of middle class public schools where there are not problems of low test scores.
......................
By the way the new attack is now shifting to teaching colleges.

"The federal education secretary, Arne Duncan, has said that many, if not most, teacher-training programs are mediocre. “It is time to start holding teacher-preparation programs more accountable for the impact of their graduates on student learning,” Mr. Duncan said in a speech in November."

Apparently now the poor performance in national testing of students in poverty public schools, which has existed for decades, is the fault of teacher training in colleges and universities.

Total disregard that the same colleges and universities graduate the teachers that work at the middle class schools where students for decades have scored well on national testing.

NY Times: Teachers’ Colleges Upset by Plan to Grade Them

Time to recognize that opportunist political leaders are using teachers as a target for blame and hatred in order to achieve their political goals. No Americans would accept political leaders claiming that the high rates of crime in poverty areas was the result of all the police officers in America, but apparently Americans are willing to accept political leaders claiming that the poor performance of students in poverty areas is a result of all the teachers in America.

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

Some have expressed surprise that credible journalists would swallow a blogger’s analysis without looking at the facts for themselves.
................................
The supporters of Ms. Rhee provided no evidence or even information regarding the past claims of Ms. Rhee regarding her performance as a teacher.

The supporters of Ms. Rhee claim that credible columnist should look "at the facts for themselves" yet they can not provide any evidence to support the previous claims of Ms. Rhee.

It appears that in the past "credible journalists swallowed the claims of Ms. Rhee since the supporters of Ms. Rhee can not provide a single piece of evidence to support these claims.

Time for even the supporters of Ms. Rhee to understand that she placed herself in the class of charlatans by publicly making claims without a scrape of evidence to support these claims.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 10, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

for georga198305---I was working on my obit of Harriett Ball (see posting above) when this statement was issued. I asked my editor to post it on the blog since he is much younger and much faster at that. I thought this response was disappointing. It did not really analyze the UMBC report, just raised vague doubts about it. I am glad G.F. Brandenburg has responded. We will have more of our own reporting on this soon.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | February 10, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

"We will have more of our own reporting on this soon."

let's hope it won't be solely about your
opinion that it is unfair to say R lied.

Posted by: youngWaPoreader | February 10, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Jay.

My reading of the response is that the intent is to discredit the "bloggers".

My overall impression is that Studentsfirst is sort of trying to quiet any opposition. I don't think that comes across as honest or professional or helpful to students. That is just my opinion, not an accusation.

I feel that it has become normal to twist the truth and it is not good for our country. Sounds cliche, I know, but that is the conclusion I have come to.


Posted by: georgia198305 | February 10, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Mafara Hobson??? Wasn't she Adrian Fenty's old communication director? Wasn't one of the many issues that Fenty was hammered for during the campaign ineffective communications?

Well, now this makes sense why the response was piss poor.

So the communication strategy is what Mafara? Send out a press release with no evidence to dispute gfbrandenburg or Jeff Steele’s finding except “our schools are in crises” Then you throw your biggest supports (Jay and Washington Post) under the bus?
Really?

Opps I forgot to add the posters who decry that lying means nothing and that folks who actual dare question Rhee and her reform are pro-union and not really care about reforming education.
Weak…weak…weak!

Not only are schools in crisis Mafara but it looks like the PR world too!

Posted by: thelildiva4u | February 10, 2011 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Mafara Hobson??? Wasn't she Adrian Fenty's old communication director? Wasn't one of the many issues that Fenty was hammered for during the campaign ineffective communication?

Well, now this makes sense why the response was piss poor.

So the communication strategy is what Mafara? Send out a press release with no evidence to dispute gfbrandenburg or Jeff Steele’s findings except “our schools are in crises” Then throw your biggest supporters (Jay and Washington Post) under the bus?

Really?

Opps I forgot to add rally supporters and have them post comments like lying means nothing and that folks who actual dare question Rhee and her reform are pro-union and they don’t really care about reforming education.

Weak…weak…weak!

Not only are schools in crisis Mafara but it looks like the PR world too!

Posted by: thelildiva4u | February 10, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

StudentsFirst is a new (corporate-funded) sect of the TFA cult, as such, no actual facts can displace their FAITH in their DIVINE LEADER. Rhee's false claim about her students’ success on standardized tests is the sacred story behind her faith. It led to her REVELATION that any student could learn if provided a "great teacher" like herself. (The seemingly impossible rise in test scores, again, is the evidence that she was, in fact, a "great teacher.") The sacred story is also the basis of the cult’s blind faith in the standardized tests themselves, as they are the stigmata of greatness, according to the cult. Thus, anyone who questions the sacred story or the divinity of the chosen leader is engaging in blasphemy and must be attacked and silenced. (Bloggers! Infidels! You must listen only to the high priestess!) Because without the sacred story and the accepted divinity leader, the beliefs and prophesies of the cult’s leader are exposed as nothing more than the superstitious ranting of an unbalanced, false prophet and her followers.

Posted by: mcstowy | February 10, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Rhee is as corrupt, fraudulent and narcissistic as Lay, Skilling, Madoff, and Boesky, but she uses children and teachers to advance herself and generate revenue for her personal bank accounts. How many times did it take for the government to listen to Harry Markopolos? How long will it take for the media to listen to the teachers about the for-profit deformer crowd? The whistle was finally blown on Madoff after years of warning and in-your-face signals.

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | February 10, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

mcstowy, definitely the right framework to criticize this group...they need to start get bunched together with Scientology and all other cults.

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | February 10, 2011 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Mcstowy - perfect characterization of Rhee's cult --- and every other cult.

They are all the same, aren't they? even when believers are the best and the brightest.

Posted by: efavorite | February 10, 2011 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Being "Teacher of the Year" is, quite honestly, a measure of how much political influence the teacher and his/her supporters have. Not of how good a teacher said teacher really is.
Just look at Jason Kamras.

Posted by: TexasIke59 | February 10, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Just in case anyone has forgotten Jay's contribution for Rhee's SACRED STORY, here is de-bunking from the Daily Howler in 2008: http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh112608.shtml

Posted by: mcstowy | February 10, 2011 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Matthews - You have a well earned reputation for integrity, fairness, and the very best of education journalism. Please tread carefully. There is no evidence, or indication, that Rhee tried to mislead anyone. Don't succumb to the hetoring of the rabble.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 10, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Why are the Washington Post editors putting this stuff onto Jay's blog?

Where is Jay?
Posted by: georgia198305
..........................
for georga198305---I was working on my obit of Harriett Ball (see posting above) when this statement was issued. I asked my editor to post it on the blog since he is much younger and much faster at that. I thought this response was disappointing. It did not really analyze the UMBC report, just raised vague doubts about it. I am glad G.F. Brandenburg has responded. We will have more of our own reporting on this soon.

Posted by: Jay Mathews
.............................
The real question is why is not a real Washington Post reporter covering this story.

If someone had evidence that contradicted the statements made by a national figure for years, this would be reported on by the Washington Post and not shifted to a blog.

We do not need more reporting by Jay Mathews but rather real reporting by the Washington Post. Is the Washington Post simply playing down this story because of their support of Ms. Rhee for so many years?

Posted by: bsallamack | February 10, 2011 5:13 PM | Report abuse

For frankb1---You are right. Read my initial post on the Brandenburg blog disclosing that Rhee was wrong. I spent a lot of time there explaining, as I used to do to my kids, why being wrong is not the same as telling a lie. It does not seem to have sunk in, but I still believe it, and do not see any evidence that Rhee intentionally misled anyone. But as we see, Rhee's folk are slamming me now. Will the anti-Rhee faction welcome me as a comrade in arms? It is unlikely, but they are good people and I love the fizz they bring to this blog.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | February 10, 2011 5:36 PM | Report abuse

For bsallamack---Let me calm yr fears. A real Washington Post reporter, not an opinion mongering columnist like me, is covering the UMBC report story and will have something soon.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | February 10, 2011 5:39 PM | Report abuse

"A real Washington Post reporter"

You mean Carl Bernstein is back, I can't recall anyone since who wrote anything involving a real investigation that challenged the powerful or looked for the truth, or falsity, behind the quotes; although there was Janet Cooke ...
Otherwise, the corporate media gives the powerful a pass.

Posted by: mcstowy | February 10, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Eliminating the socioeconomic achievement gap between poor kids and rich kids and/or eliminating the ethnoracial achievement gap between black or Hispanic kids and white or Asian kids IS A TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE TASK. This is because there are large differences in IQ between these groups.

As Benjamin Feldman (the Baltimore schools testing expert quoted by Jay Mathews) pointed out in the previous Class Struggle blog entry, the underlying construct in standardized testing is general intelligence (also known as IQ-type intelligence).

Poor kids tend to have lower IQs than rich kids. Blacks and Hispanics tend to have lower IQs than Whites and Asians. Thus there is NO WAY NO HOW that Michelle Rhee or anybody else will EVER close these achievement gaps. Modern liberals (Boasians) always hope that the next superintendent will be the great miracle worker and some how manage to close the achievement gaps--but actually it will NEVER EVER happen because these academic achievement gaps are merely reflections of underlying gaps in innate IQ-type intelligence.

Because IQ-type intelligence is a highly heritable (genetically determined) mental trait, it is not possible to get groups of biological children of lower IQ lower class parents (who are often high school dropouts of low intelligence) to have the same average IQs as the biological children of higher IQ upscale parents (often PhDs, engineers, or professionals who needed high IQs to earn their degrees). It is simply a process of selection (via meritocratic college and career selection systems) and heredity. Nobody will ever be able to get SE DC's poor Blacks (average IQs in the 80 to 85 range) to have the same level of academic achievement as NW DC's upscale Whites and Asians (average IQs in the 105 to 115 range). It is ludicrous to pretend otherwise.

Posted by: rifraf | February 10, 2011 6:55 PM | Report abuse

frankb1 and Jay: No teacher could ever give such wrong information about the class of kids they taught. To be that wrong is to either lie, or be completely incompetent. I don't see another alternative.

If she forgot, it's like forgetting your own child's name. She was with these same kids for a looping couple of years and she was off by double digits? Doesn't pass the smell test. Does it?

Lots of people claim something as a mistake when they actually are lying. It's known as covering your ass.

Posted by: tfteacher | February 10, 2011 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Jay,

I think we shouldn't be pro Rhee or anti Rhee, but rather pro-education. Obviously, everyone has differences of opinion on every little aspect of education.

It is fair to question Rhee's data since she is so convinced that that measures student achievement and teachers in business style districts (almost everywhere these days) are routinely asked to bring "data" to meetings and to prove everything using data.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 10, 2011 7:24 PM | Report abuse

For frankb1---You are right. Read my initial post on the Brandenburg blog disclosing that Rhee was wrong. I spent a lot of time there explaining, as I used to do to my kids, why being wrong is not the same as telling a lie. It does not seem to have sunk in, but I still believe it, and do not see any evidence that Rhee intentionally misled anyone.
Posted by: Jay Mathews
........................
Mr. Mathews really needs to start to think.

Ms. Rhee continuously proclaimed, to benefit herself, that she produced a miracle as a teacher even though she was fully aware that see could provide no proof in regard to her claims.

Are we really supposed to believe that the principals of Ms. Rhee told her that:
"Over a two-year period, (you) 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."

Mr. Mathews you should also explain to your children that there is a difference about being wrong and spreading a falsehood when it is to your advantage.

You can also explain to them that there is difference in being wrong about test scores and spreading a falsehood of "Over a two-year period, (moving) students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90 percent of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher."

Ms. Rhee has still not publicly announced that her prior claims were false.

Time to recognize that without the falsehoods Ms. Rhee publicly made she probably would not have obtained her position as the head of the D.C. school system.
....................
Council to Challenge Rhee's Résumé
By Nikita Stewart and V. Dion Haynes
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, June 30, 2007

The D.C. Council will question acting D.C. schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee next week about claims in her résumé that she improved students' test scores when she taught in Baltimore a decade ago, council members said yesterday.

Although Rhee acknowledges that she has no documentation to prove the dramatic changes, three educators who worked closest with her at a Baltimore elementary school support her position that her students experienced big increases in standardized test scores.

"Whenever you make those kind of statements, people will look for corroborating evidence," Gray said.

Rhee's résumé asserts that the students made a dramatic gain: "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."
..................

Posted by: bsallamack | February 10, 2011 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Deformers: What are the answers to these basic questions?

What instructional methods and standardized tests were used by Rhee and her peers in the second grade to achieve these amazing results? Are the tests proven to be valid and reliable? What about test security? Did Rhee have a monitor in her classroom as the tests were administered? Does the testing corporation have Rhee's student records?

Rhee and the rest of the deformers are in the black box - just like Enron.

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | February 10, 2011 7:48 PM | Report abuse

For bsallamack---Let me calm yr fears. A real Washington Post reporter, not an opinion mongering columnist like me, is covering the UMBC report story and will have something soon.

Posted by: Jay Mathews
............................
It would be interesting if the data could be verified.

This would mean that the Washington Post could run articles calling for reform of the reform movement which has been corrupted and tainted by opportunists and charlatans.

This would be interesting since so much of national educational policy has been influenced by Ms. Rhee. Remember she has been the poster child for TFA in her claims of delivering miraculous results without any certificates from teaching schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 10, 2011 7:49 PM | Report abuse

"This was not a study of Michelle's students. It was a study of the school's entire grade level, which had four teachers.
There is no way to know if any of Michelle's students were even included in this study."

The premise of this argument does not support its conclusion. The argument is self-contradictory. If her students were part of the grade level, then her students were tested. End of story.


Oh, now this is just sad.

Can a basic understanding of statistics be a requirement for commenting here? Or anywhere on the internets?

Posted by: hainish | February 10, 2011 7:58 PM | Report abuse

One thing that has been missed regarding the claims of Ms. Rhee is that of the class that tested at the end of the 1st grade at the 13 percentile.

According to Ms. Rhee she was the teacher of this class. This means that her performance in her first year of teaching was so poor that the class scored in the 13 percentile.

Any teacher with this low performance would have been fired by Ms. Rhee while she was head of the D.C. school system.

This is interesting since it is not based upon the newly discovered test scores but simply on claims Ms. Rhee made on her resume.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 10, 2011 8:20 PM | Report abuse

WaPo commenters against DCPS change gone wild!! One can almost hear the teeth gnashing.

But, sadly, the result of decades of decline and resistance to change is as visible in DCPS students as it is irresponsible on the part of people who put teachers' self interest first. Our good teachers don't do that, but those who are not make it a zero-sum game, which victimizes the students. For shame.

When will the anti-change crowd acknowledge that Rhee never hid the length of her teaching experience, or what she got out of it? The city council knew and did not object to her experience. They liked it.

You don't need to be a long-term teacher to head a school system. Every failed or failing system in this country has been led by former teachers. Their teaching experience did not give them the knowledge to arrest the decline of their schools.

According to Ravitch's thinking, all of these former teachers should be pilloried in the public square, so to speak. I agree, Diane.

In digging ourselves out of the mess being made now in DCPS, we need to be careful that the input of teachers, which is essential, excludes those with their own, zero-sum agenda and lack of effectiveness in the classroom.

Posted by: axolotl | February 10, 2011 8:38 PM | Report abuse

@axolotl
Many excellent school systems have been headed by long term teachers as well.

Teaching is an art and every teacher is different. There is no one way to think about education.

Yes teachers should be supervised and evaluated and given feedback. Linking student test scores on knowledge/learning that is not in the curriculum is questionable or maybe just unintelligent.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 10, 2011 8:46 PM | Report abuse

@axolotl

I think you're correct in stating that ineffective teachers shouldn't be the ones making policy. What you might be surprised to know is that in many cases there are administrators who have been ineffective teachers. I don't understand why there is sometimes a correlation between ineffectiveness and promotions, but there is that element. Not everywhere, but still, sort of mind-boggling.

I don't know about others' opinions, but the "change" I object to is the idea that teachers don't have to be fully educated themselves to teach. There is a lot to know, I do think people with advanced degrees know more about their subject matter or how to teach it. If you hear otherwise, I think that is a cover for saving money.

Posted by: georgia198305 | February 10, 2011 8:53 PM | Report abuse

The fact that Brandenburg was apparently a former math teacher in DC explains a lot about why DC students do poorly in math. All of you who are ganging up here need to look at the 1995 report.

1. It analyzes all students in the school.

2. Michelle was only 1 of 4 teachers.

3. The study excluded large numbers of students.

4. Therefore, THE STUDY MIGHT NOT HAVE EVEN INCLUDED **ANY** OF MICHELLE'S STUDENTS!!

5. Also, crucially, the study showed that students jumped from 14th percentile to 46th percentile!! Wouldn't you, as a parent, be delighted in that growth in two years?

6. Given that this was the school overall, and that Michelle was one of four teachers, can't you all see the math that Michelle's kids might have jumped to 90%?

7. As for relying on what her principal told her -- don't you see that that's the whole point!? That's why Michelle has been pushing for -- better data to evaluate kids' performance with individual teachers! The whole reason we're having this insane debate is because there's no danged data!

Posted by: onceformerteacher | February 10, 2011 11:32 PM | Report abuse

onceformerteacher:

Since you are a Rhee cheerleader, what’s the name of the standardized test(s) Rhee and her peers gave the students? Show the test(s), and we’ll talk about results or we’ll talk about test fraud.

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | February 11, 2011 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Diving into the data is important if you're going to use data to attack Michelle.

The 1995 report says on pg 143 that 36 percent of kids at Harlem Park had no reading scores in 1994-95 and 38 percent had no math scores. That’s school-wide, not third grade. No other school in the study was even close to those levels of exclusion – the next highest exclusion rate for reading was 25 and next highest for math was 23. The second and third grade classes were almost certainly higher in terms of exclusion rates, because one would assume a fairly equal number of kids in each grade, but the number of test scores for those grades was far lower. I’d guess less than 50 percent of second and third graders had test scores. For that reason, as OnceFormerTeacher said, it is entirely possible that none of the kids in Michelle’s class are included in the study. That would actually make some sense, because they were trying to study a particular school model, and combined classes like Michelle’s were not part of that model. If you were a researcher, wouldn’t you think about skipping over a classroom that had like 40 kids in it?

Even if that's not the case, the point is that it’s impossible to prove that X percent of Michelle’s kids were above the 90th percentile, just like it is impossible to prove that they weren’t. The data don’t exist.

That's the whole point. The data don't exist. And Michelle is trying to get data, pushing to get data for everyone so that we don't have to have this debate in the future.

Also, remember that Michelle had colleagues. She had a principal. They all back her story, that her kids made huge strides in learning.

Posted by: DCresident31 | February 11, 2011 12:14 AM | Report abuse

hainish

Michelle Rhee was one of the four teachers in the grade level that were tested. But you seem to think that none of her students were tested. ????

Posted by: chicogal | February 11, 2011 1:58 AM | Report abuse

hainish
Go to the pdf file of the UMBC study by Dr. Williams and Dr. Leak
Go to page 149 of the pdf and you will see the Reading CTBS scores for students who were at Harlem Park ES.

There were 56 3rd graders in this group for 1995 and the NCE was 45

Go to page 152 for the Math CTBS scores for the 3rd graders in 1995.
There were 53 test takers and their NCE was 51.

NCE is a few points above percentile.

Miss Rhee said she team taught with another teacher.
So, in order for Miss Rhee to have worked that 90% at 90th percentile miracle, a good number of the other students would have had to score near 0.
Possible, yes.
Likely, no

Posted by: chicogal | February 11, 2011 2:27 AM | Report abuse

It’s amazing how intelligent people will use twisted logic when they are trapped in an untenable belief.

Let's say for the sake of argument, as dcresident31 posits above, that we can't separate out Rhee's scores because so many kids at that school weren't tested; that we can't even know if Rhee's own students were tested.

That does not jive with the other part of her oft-told story - that her principal told her that her kids did incredibly well on the tests. Also Rhee herself acknowledges that her kids took the tests. This is something a teacher would remember, even after 20 years

So you see, we have both Rhee and her principal on record saying the kids took the tests. And we have the principal saying the kids did remarkably well – and Rhee frequently repeating twenty years later.

You might say that it’s still hearsay – there is no proof that Rhee’s kids took the tests. OK, so let’s ask Rhee and her principal again. Let’s see if they say her kids didn’t take the tests. That’s the only way any part of this fragile logic has any chance of holding up, but it also means that Rhee was lying for years and (to large crowds) about something else – her students being tested at all.

So, she’s stuck and so are those who try to rationalize their way out of this for her. It’s not rational – it’s hype and confabulation, like so much else about Michelle Rhee.

Please, dcresident31 and others intent on defending her, at least consider that.

Posted by: efavorite | February 11, 2011 8:08 AM | Report abuse

chicogal, some of the comments above address your confusion, but if not, let me make it clearer for you with a concrete example:

Suppose you are the parent of a small child, and take your child shopping for a new pair of shoes. You ask the salesman to measure your child's foot, but he tells you that he doesn't need to. He has recently measured all the feet of all the children at your child's school, and can conclude that she wears a size 4 based on the data for kids in the same grade.

You can't argue that your kid's feet *weren't* measured. They were, along with every other kids' in her school.

However, you would object to using that _aggregate_ data to derive a conclusion about your daughter. You would want to know *her* shoe size, specifically.

That is the issue here.

Now, whether the data for Rhee's class specifically is available, and whether it supports her or doesn't, isn't really my concern and can't be addressed by what I've written. I'm just trying to clarify the objection made by others about this particular data set.

Posted by: hainish | February 11, 2011 10:24 AM | Report abuse

efav.--u need to read Rick Hess's column and recant. You need to recognize that just as GFB claims that Rhee's statistical claims were unfounded, so are his own--for the same reason. Hess explains that you can't get "there" from "here" because there is insufficient granularity in the available data.

In those circumstances, it's not surprising Rhee depended on her principal and colleagues to characterize what she was responsible for.

You make a lot of charges about others' dishonesty. Perhaps, you also need to examine your own veracity. And I thought you had above-average statistical analysis skills, but that was a long time ago.

Some might also ponder your ability to post so much during school time if you are a DC teacher, but that is a separate ethical issue. I am sure there is an answer, somewhere. I always enjoy, and sometimes learn from, your posts nonetheless. If you are a DCPS teacher or not, keep up the good work--but watch those statistical stretches.

Posted by: axolotl | February 11, 2011 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Here's the thing: best practice in education dictates that teachers constantly (weekly or biweekly depending on the age) monitor their students progress via teacher administered tests (formative assessment) such as running records or guided reading observations. If Michelle Rhee was following these best practices (which were certainly around when she was teaching) she would have known where her students were academically and what gains they were making. So, she was either lax is her use of formative assessment and record keeping or she was promoting classroom successes that she knew could not possibly be true even IF she did not have access to the standardized test data. Either way, she is demonstrating a lack of moral character and as such should not have access to other people's children.

Posted by: reneecn | February 11, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

hanish
You're still not addressing the claim "There's no way to know if any of Rhee's students were tested." I'm not arguing the issue of HER scores, I'm stating the obvious that her students were tested if her students were part of the grade level. When she makes the claim that her kids scored in the 90th percentile, she is making the claim that her students were tested. And she is like the mom who tries to tell us what her kid's shoe size is by citing group data about kids' shoe sizes.

Posted by: chicogal | February 11, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Pitching Reform: A Parable, part 2

Oh, I see one of the former players on the team found a local newspaper article about the game that I said I pitched a shutout, but that shows we lost 6-1 and sent it to you. Well, I never saw the scorecard, but I went with what my manager told me and he said I threw the best game of the season. The story also doesn’t say, specifically, that I was pitching when the runs were scored and it doesn’t matter that the manager and all the coaches were fired a day latter because they couldn’t win, I was a great pitcher and I care about the fans. Why are we rehashing a game that happened over 10 years ago? If you care about the fans you have to make all your pitchers pitch underhand every day because that’s what my one great game taught me. Anyone who that says it takes time and experience to develop good pitchers, by gaining control and adding another pitch, by learning from experience, is just trying to cheat the fans and save their jobs by holding back reform. They just don’t want to change and improve.
Never mind, the NFL and NBA are going to pay me to teach my pitching reform to other teams. Go back to your old, losing ways. Jim Rome is calling and wants me on his show.

Does anyone find this story credible? Jay?

Posted by: mcstowy | February 11, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

>You're still not addressing the claim "There's no way to know if any of Rhee's students were tested."

No, I'm not, because it's not a particularly relevant or compelling claim. (I'm not even sure who is making that claim...and I'm not sure I particularly care.) A more valid claim would be that there is no way to know _which_ of Rhee's students were tested.


>When she makes the claim that her kids scored in the 90th percentile, she is making the claim that her students were tested.

Tested, yes. But is that the same as claiming they were included in this particular study?


>And she is like the mom who tries to tell us what her kid's shoe size is by citing group data about kids' shoe sizes.


Did Rhee cite group data? I wasn't aware of that.


Posted by: hainish | February 11, 2011 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Lots of faulty reasoning going on here as well as on the other thread. Here's one way to show why the numbers reported in the UMBC study are consistent with Rhee's claim:

http://www.eduwonk.com/2010/12/rhee-invented.html/comment-page-1#comment-217538

Posted by: ChrisSmyr | February 11, 2011 7:33 PM | Report abuse

hainish

"There is no way to know if any of Rhee's students were even in this study," is what I should have said. Sorry. Rhee's new advocacy group, StudentsFirst is making this claim.


"The study included only certain students at the school, and excluded large numbers from their sample."

This statement sounds to me like StudentFirst is trying to come up with some excuses as to why the test scores weren't higher. Yes, some students were excluded. Does one really believe that all the excluded students would be Rhee's?


"When she makes the claim that her kids scored in the 90th percentile, she is making the claim that her students were tested.
Tested, yes. But is that the same as claiming they were included in this particular study?"

She has already claimed her successes were from the CAT which is the test which this study came from, so one would of course conclude that this is the test that she is referring to.

"And she is like the mom who tries to tell us what her kid's shoe size is by citing group data about kids' shoe sizes.
Did Rhee cite group data, I wasn't aware of that."

Well, she has certainly given numbers which I would assume she got from somewhere, or did she just pull them out of the sky?


Posted by: chicogal | February 12, 2011 1:41 AM | Report abuse

for Chris Smyre:
Eleanor Roosevelt noted that, “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”

Ideas like truthfulness, honesty, fidelity and humility?

Quality on which Miss Rhee falls short.

Posted by: edlharris | February 12, 2011 2:09 AM | Report abuse

""There is no way to know if any of Rhee's students were even in this study," is what I should have said. Sorry. Rhee's new advocacy group, StudentsFirst is making this claim."

And as I said, the critique is that there is no way to know _which_ of Rhee's students were included in the study.


"Yes, some students were excluded. Does one really believe that all the excluded students would be Rhee's?"

Of course not. Why would anyone believe that? Even allowing that Rhee's students overlap with the students in the study, the study didn't separate kids by teacher. It doesn't tell us which of the scores were for Rhee's kids vs. other teachers', or the scores of Rhee's students who were not in the study. In other words, it can't support or disprove Rhee's claim.


"She has already claimed her successes were from the CAT which is the test which this study came from, so one would of course conclude that this is the test that she is referring to."

The study didn't come from the makers of the CAT, it came from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Center for Education Research. The tests they used were not the CAT, but the CTBS and the MSPAP.


"Well, she has certainly given numbers which I would assume she got from somewhere, or did she just pull them out of the sky?"

Maybe she got them from results of the CAT? Where ever she got them, I don't think they'd be from a study that came out in 1995, when she was no longer teaching at the school.

Were you assuming that this report is where Rhee got her 90% at the 90th percentile statistic? (Was _anybody_ assuming that? I would think, no.)

Also, I recommend the link from ChrisSmyr, above, who explains it better than I ever could.

Posted by: hainish | February 12, 2011 7:52 AM | Report abuse

I really don't see why everyone is so obsessed with Michelle Rhee or why she's become the nation's educational reform poster child. A lot of other people, particularly educators on the ground floor, are making tough decisions, and guess what: their schools are not failing and they never make the news! There is something psychologically wrong with some of the people in DC that won't let the woman dissipate..She resigned. Let her go!

Posted by: rasheeedj | February 12, 2011 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Hummmm...wonder what Arne Duncan thinks of Rhee now?

Her principal, Linda Carter, was one of the most incompetent principals ever to be hired by Howard County Public Schools. Mrs. Carter was hired by Alice Haskins in Howard from Baltimore City Public Schools based on the same grossly elevated scores.

Posted by: lacy41 | February 12, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

hanish

Should have said CTBS. My bad.

If you look at the study, which I'm sure you have, it measures EVERYTHING. It measures the condition of the school grounds, it measures windows, furnishings, access to fax machines, telephones, copiers, etc. My point here is that if there was some extraordinary teacher, and if this study was so thorough, wouldn't Rhee be singled out? Although the study doesn't list individual teachers' classes, the results of individual teachers were sure enough known by whoever crunched the numbers. Wasn't the whole purpose of the study to find out if this for-profit company could do a better job at teaching than the regular public school? Then it stands to reason that if there was some teaching method that got kids to score from the 13th to 90% being in the 90th percentile then that teacher's methods would have been researched, published, scrutinized, etc.

"Well, she has certainly given numbers which I would assume she got from somewhere, or did she just pull them out of the sky?"

Maybe she got them from results of the CAT? Where ever she got them, I don't think they'd be from a study that came out in 1995, when she was no longer teaching at the school."

This statement doesn't make any sense to me. The study includes the years Rhee taught. It doesn't matter when it came out.


Posted by: chicogal | February 12, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Let's see. When someone questions Michelle Rhee's record and competence it is called an unfounded attack. But when Michelle Rhee uses error-laden numbers and subjective criteria to abuse and fire teachers, she is crowned reform queen. There is something wrong with that.

Posted by: jdman2 | February 12, 2011 6:31 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, & SOCIOPATHIC UTTER NEGLECT of her two young daughters !

Definitely research her bizarre history with faux-fiance (serial molester of several H.S. students & teenage Americorp staff) Kevin Johnson and investigate Rhee's direct involvement with Johnson's Sacramento Charter School corrupt cover-ups of sexcapades, 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 providing consistent care & nurturing concern for
the well-being of their daughters and he is the only
mature & responsible adult in that family !

MICHELLE RHEE FIRST.....
Children, Community stakeholders, & especially the needs of
her own daughters
come LAST !

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

Posted by: honestaction | February 14, 2011 8:30 PM | Report abuse

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