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

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Michelle Rhee Is Really Bad At Her Job

Leonie Haimson tells us that Reformy John King, New York's Education Commissioner, is so scared of continuing parental outrage at his test-obsessed policies that he has to basically turn his "listening tour" into a scripted political rally:
The Brooklyn stop on Commissioner King's "listening tour", asdescribed here,  featured one of the few friendly audiences he has faced, overwhelming supportive of the state's agenda of Common Core and high-stakes testing.  Many parents were brought in early by StudentsFirstNY, given a special room inside Medgar Evers College and allowed to sign up for 44 of 45 speaking slots by 5:30 PM, even though NYSED had said the doors would not be open till 6 PM.
The attendees praised the state’s policies and the Common Core in similar terms, while apparently referring to a printed sheet of instructions, according to this Epoch Times article, and held up nearly identical signs.  The article also reveals that many of the teachers at the Brooklyn event were from the Uncommon chain of charters, which King himself used to run. Coincidence?
While King had accused critical audiences he faced elsewhere as having been manipulated by “special interests”, he said he saw no special interests at work in Brooklyn. [emphasis mine]
Leonie then posts this photo from the rally (annotation mine):

Aside from the ridiculous "home-made"uniformity of the signs, check out the saying: "Our kids can hit your bar."

Um, as I understand the metaphor, we want the kids to clear the bar - you know, like high jumping? So  we really don't want them to "hit" the bar, do we? Unless the sign means "hitting the bar" as in: "Hey, let's go hit the bar and get a couple of cold ones!" Which, I think we can all agree, is not really something we want the children of New York doing...

Can we talk?

Michelle Rhee's book was a miserable commercial failure. The astroturfing of her group, StudentsFirst, is laughably transparent. She's managed to alienate large segments of the Democratic Party, her ostensible base. She has missed her stated fundraising goals by an embarrassingly wide margin. Her response to the Sandy Hook tragedy was achingly tone-deaf. Her silence in the face of the Washington test cheating scandal has been disturbing. The research StudentFirst puts out is cringe-inducingly inept. She can't get even the most basic facts about education research correct. She can't even answer a straight criticism from a student. She even chickened out of a debate with Diane Ravitch.

And now we find that the New York branch of her group can't even stage a rally without looking like a bunch of pre-scripted chumps.

Michelle Rhee is really, really bad at her job. One of these days, her funders might actually figure that out. What happens then?

Well, she could always go into eraser sales...


caroline said...

I actually don't believe that Students First has ANY legitimate members. That's because we know it gathered lists of names by trickery and fraud, listing people who at best didn't know we were supposedly signing on to be members and at worst think the operation is vile and were horrified to find out we were supposedly members. The other reason I think it has no legitimate members is that in many years of deeply involved education advocacy I never encountered any legitimate recruitment effort, and if there were any, it truly would have been impossible for me to miss.

If it managed to get a crowd, those individuals were either charter parents who were coerced/"required" to attend, or else hired warm bodies. Not legitimate members. If anyone can actually come up with even ONE legitimate member who joined out of true support for Students First's goals and principles, please share and I'll consider changing my view, but so far I have never heard of one and don't believe that there are any.

Maestro said...

I eight years ago I had a principal who reminded me a lot of Rhee - Highly driven, highly capable, but also prone to using people as a means to an end, and a crippling habit of speaking and acting before she really thinks things through. All this coupled with an inability to see how transparent she is.

gfb9+2/3 said...

I had a very similar principal. Plus I had Michelle Rhee as my superintendent.
Rhee does worse: she lies constantly.

jcg said...

Staging public events with supporters must be in the reformy playbook. Is this the strategy taught in B-schools to counter the message strength of opposition to their bad ideas? The Broady superintendent of Knox County School, TN called in principals and other country officials to speak on his behalf after facing opposition from teachers at the last several school board meetings. Videos of one teacher Lauren Hopson & a student, Ethan Young went viral.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRmcBJXEOcA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PprP5TCZBRI

How will the public know who to believe when officials leverage their power over subordinates to be theater puppets? This is why I depend on jazzman's laser vision to smoke out the edu-frauds!

Giuseppe said...

Dear Lord have mercy, I'm watching PBS and it's airing a monologue by Michelle Rhee as if she were God almighty. Michele Rhee pontificating for 5 minutes on her philosophy of education and her management style. She says she's not all about warm and fuzzy but being effective and at that point I almost vomited. Shame on PBS for legitimizing this horrible person this sham, phony and fraud. This 5 minute Rhee promotional is a little blurb that PBS constantly repeats on this channel, Comcast channel 258 here in central NJ in between the actual shows.

Mrs. King's music students said...

The name of the playbook is Machiavelli's The Prince. Christie used the same tactics to close down Lanning Square in Camden where BOEs and the principal were interviewed individually/remotely by a reporter and the footage was spliced later for use on the news, to look like they agreed w/his "failure factory" comment. In real life, Christie never addressed an actual admin/educator/parent or resident nor did he ask for their input on any issue.

Rule#1: Steal the credit for your opponent's good work
Rule#2: If that doesn't work, discredit him