I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Michelle Rhee's Day Has Finally Come

Oh, my...

District of Columbia Public Schools officials have long maintained that a 2011 test-cheating scandal that generated two government probes was limited to one elementary school. But a newly uncovered confidential memo warns as far back as January 2009 that educator cheating on 2008 standardized tests could have been widespread, with 191 teachers in 70 schools "implicated in possible testing infractions."
[..]
The USA TODAY investigation found that, as far back as 2008, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), D.C.'s equivalent of a state education department, asked for an erasure analysis. Among the 96 schools flagged for wrong-to-right erasures were eight of the 10 campuses where Rhee handed out so-called TEAM awards "to recognize, reward and retain high-performing educators and support staff." In all, Rhee bestowed more than $1.5 million in bonuses based on increases in 2007 and 2008 test scores. [emphasis mine]
See, it was very, very important to have these high-erasing "high-performing," schools recognized! Because they were "proving" poverty doesn't matter! If districts would have just hired the right person to come in and bully the staff and threaten them with an innumerate evaluation system, then all students would have overcome the correlation found in every country in the world between poverty and academic outcomes!

And if anything dared to intrude on this view of the world... well, that's just not something that would be best "for the children," would it?
Merrow provided a copy of the memo to USA TODAY on Thursday. Its findings stand in stark contrast to public statements made both by Rhee and her onetime deputy, Kaya Henderson, now D.C.'s chancellor. In a Jan. 8 statement coinciding with Merrow's broadcast, Henderson noted, "All of the investigations have concluded in the same way that there is no widespread cheating at D.C. Public Schools." She added, "We take test security incredibly seriously and will continue to do so even after our name has been cleared." 
Because nothing shows you take "test security incredibly seriously" than suppressing memos about test security!

Sanford's memo warns its intended recipients to "keep this erasure study really close (sic) hold. No more people in the know than necessary until we have more conclusive results."
The memo suggests, "Don't make hard copies and leave them around. Much of what we think we know is based on what I consider to be incomplete information. So the picture is not perfectly clear yet, but the possible ramifications are serious."
At the time, many D.C. schools, as well as those nationwide, were struggling to meet the federal government's "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) levels, which required year-to-year test score gains. Agencies such as OSSE were pushing for improvements.
"If all 70 schools wind up being compromised AND OSSE wants AYP blood," the memo warns, "the result could be devastating with regard to our reported gains in 2008."
No, we couldn't have that! Because that would throw in doubt the (absurd) notion that Rhee's "reforms" had any impact on student achievement at all! And that can't possibly be right - I mean, Rhee was such an awesome teacher...

[...]

Sorry, folks: I just can't keep this snark up. It's too much. No one who wants to keep their sanity can continue to play this game anymore.

We are at a crisis point. Either we are going to step up and demand the truth about Michelle Rhee and the Washington, D.C. cheating scandal, or we're going to sweep this entire thing under the rug and pretend that Rhee's vision of the world is valid: that our nation's massive inequity can be laid at the feet of a few "bad" teachers.

It is time - once and for all - to have an honest conversation about the legacy of Michelle Rhee.

I'd really rather not...

4 comments:

Bonny Buffington said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bonny Buffington said...

Those who value fairness should keep this topic in the spotlight and spur a REAL investigation on this scandal. How can we prosecute one superintendent and laud another one for the exact same actions? Rhee's policies DO NOT WORK by any measurable standard and it's time we call her on it. We are doing harm to our children's education.

be careful said...

Watch the Merrow interview on Chris Hayes here...finally this witch is going down:

http://video.msnbc.msn.com/all-in-/51523921?ocid=twitter#51523921

Also, email Arne asking for a full investigation:

arne.duncan@ed.gov

Andrew Bayliss said...

Maybe it's old news, but I just read that the NJ division of pensions invests in a fund run by a billionaire who is also on the board of directors of Students First.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/dan-loeb-simultaneously-solicits-betrays-pension-funds-20130411

Students First: run by Rhee, spreads her reformy lies, wants to eliminate our pensions, and financially backed by a man making ton off our pensions.

Andrew