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

Friday, February 1, 2013

Ms. Rhee, You're No Diane Ravitch

Michael Petrilli does what he does best - drive me nuts:
Michael Petrilli, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a pro-charter education analyst with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, worries about this lack of exchange. He recently conducted an analysis of Twitter and the tens of thousands of followers of Ms. Rhee, who is pro-charter, and Ms. Ravitch, who is anti-charter, and discovered that only 10 percent overlapped. Just as conservatives gravitate to Fox News and liberals to MSNBC to hear their preconceived notions and biases confirmed, Mr. Petrilli speculates that those in education are now preaching solely to the converted, a phenomenon known in the media world as “narrowcasting.” 
Worse, in Mr. Petrilli’s view, those who follow Ms. Rhee tend to describe themselves in their Twitter profiles as policy makers or otherwise removed from the immediate realities of the classroom, while Ms. Ravitch’s devotees are typically self-identified practitioners: principals and teachers on education’s front lines. Surely these folks should be talking to one another, but in Mr. Petrilli’s experience, they often aren’t. [emphasis mine]
Mike, here's the problem with your equivalency:

Diane Ravitch is a distinguished scholar with a body of large body of peer-reviewed and popular work to her name. She held important policy positions in both the first Bush and Clinton administrations. She's been on the faculty of several distinguished schools of education; consequently, she is highly conversant in issues of teacher preparation. She was on the board that oversaw the National Assessment of Educational Progress, so she's well-versed in standardized testing.

Diane Ravitch is exactly the sort of policy expert and scholar one should listen to if one cares about education.

Michelle Rhee, in contrast, holds no degrees in education. She taught for three years, then later  - by her own admission - misrepresented her "success" as a teacher when she applied to lead the Washington, D.C. school district. After leaving the teaching profession, she founded The New Teacher Project. TNTP's best known report, The Widget Effect, presented faulty data to back up its conclusions. TNTP also misstated the facts regarding New York City's Absent Teacher Reserve.

Rhee's tenure as chancellor in Washington, D.C. is most properly described as a disaster. The story of a cheating scandal under her watch continues to unfold, and Rhee has stonewalled those who are trying to get to the bottom of it. Even putting that aside, by her own standards Rhee was a failure, overseeing one of the largest "achievement gaps" in the nation while running the school system.

Currently, Rhee funnels large sums of money from plutocrats to (mostly) Republicans while attempting to maintain an illusion of running a non-partisan, grassroots organization. She has continued to misstate research and falsely malign America's students to make the case for her radical reform agenda.

Mike, let's state this clearly:

There is no equivalency between Diane Ravitch and Michelle Rhee. One is an eminent scholar and champion of public education; the other is a partisan hack.

It is foolish to think that anyone who follows Ravitch must follow Rhee or be trapped in their own "preconceived notions and biases." I am certainly open to hearing the good-faith arguments of anyone who opposes Ravitch. But Rhee's record speaks for itself: she is simply not credible.

I gave Michael Petrilli credit the other day for bringing some much needed honesty to the charter school debate. I'll give him credit here for calling out his fellow reformyists because they are not listening to teachers.

But suggesting there is an equivalency between Diane Ravitch and Michelle Rhee is ridiculous. To paraphrase Lloyd Benson:
Ms. Rhee, I've blogged with Diane Ravitch. I know Diane Ravitch. Diane Ravitch is a friend of mine. 
Ms. Rhee, you're no Diane Ravitch.
Well, I'll bet Ravitch can't push a broom like I can!

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