Monday, February 11, 2013

Erase to the Top : Rhee Style

If somehow  you still  didn’t think the edu-dice were loaded, the edu-cards were marked and the edu-fix was in and just have a gander at this article from someone who knows what happened in the Michelle (recently high profile lawyered up) Rhee cheating scandal during her  reign of error as the Chancellor of Washington D.C. Schools.   read : Jay Matthews Washington Post  If you’ve  ever read Freakanomics or watched the video version, it offers fascinating cautionary tales of cheaters in Sumo Wrestling,  murder investigations and last but not least standardized test givers in American schools who’ve been incentivized to reach for the stars even if it means erasing some of the stripes.  Once again the lesson is that it’s NOT about the kids nor is about their edumacation or any of the other high minded shite the ed-reformers and their neo-liberal dumbocrats all claim they care soooooo much about.  Once again it’s about adults putting themselves and their careers, their connections and their lust for power and financial gain ahead of " the children" in spite of their endless bloviation to the contrary. Rhee, the darling of the ed reform crowd who can’t make up her mind if she wants our schools to be more like Korea or Finland, employes something of a Saddham Hussein styled ballot box when it comes to correcting the holiest of holy standardized tests. The facts don’t lie and the numbers don’t lie. Rhee’s D.C. Schools' test results display an inordinate, significant, alarming irregularity of answers changed from wrong to right. Gee Whiz, how did that happen?  In the case of the Washington D.C. schools under Michelle Rhee, the numbers speak volumes. Experts who study this stuff for a living have concluded that the tests results include an inordinate, insignificant and alarming number of answers changed from wrong to right. They further conlude that the only realistic expectation of how this came to pass is that teachers who'd been cowed by a bullying environment of fear and intimidation created by the Superintendent changed the answers for obvious reasons.  

When a similar miasma arose over Atlanta's schools an investigation revealed some similarities between the two districts. A bullying Superintendent who'd created an atmosphere of ridiculously demanding expectations that coerced teachers into changing grades and erasing wrong answers changing them to right answers. When these things happen outside the cozy penumbra of someone who's protected and insulated as Rhee is however, it can safely be determined that heads are going to roll. As well they have.  Scroll to the bottom of p.349 and p.350 to find the familiar phrase No Excuses as uttered by Superintendent Hall to her Principals and by proxy her teachers. The coded message to borrow a phrase from Malcolm X was to get the scores up "By any means necessary."
In Georgia the Governor turned loose the hounds and they chased down a bunch of cheaters in varying degrees. In D.C. however, as the story relates :  D.C. Inspector GeneralWilloughby also dismissed evidence from Adell Cothorne, a principal at Noyes Education Campus who reported suspicious behavior at her school. Cothorne said she found three staffers loyal to a former principal holed up in a room, after-hours, with answer sheets and erasers in their hands. She said she believed they were erasing wrong answers and penciling in the right ones on a D.C. preliminary exam.  Further the article states : The Education Department also revealed Feb. 7 that several educators reported other forms and signs of cheating at Noyes and other D.C. schools: tests distributed days in advance to teachers who shared the questions with students; teachers coaching kids during the tests; kids excelling on the tests though they had performed poorly in class. Yet both IGs apparently reject Cothorne’s assertions, though they don’t explain why. Because the three staffers she fingered denied any wrongdoing? Had they confessed, they almost certainly would have been fired. So why did the IGs believe them instead of her?
Cothorne now finds herself condemned as a liar after Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said she made “fictitious” claims.
Amid apparent lying, cheating and turning of blind eyes, I’d say that if there’s one honorable person in this five-year-long melodrama, it’s Cothorne. She’s the one who didn’t look the other way, instead putting her students’ interests first.

It's not a matter of cheating or not cheating but one of who the cheater is and who her friends are. More to the point as Cicero reminds us in asking Cui bono?  Who would benefit from covering up Michelle Rhee's cheating scandal ? Or better yet who'd have their asses hung out if her cheating ever saw the light of day? Well can we start with Arne Duncan, Barack Obama, the Waltons, Broads and Gates' and work our way down the list of lesser lights in the grand bowel obstruction of Rheeformers. Many who've stuffed their pockets and had their way for the past decade would NOT stand the Cicero test and that my friends is all the reason in the world for D.C. to send out the Mr. Magoo team on this caper. 


  1. I love to watch Rhee go on with the hacks on Morning Joe and watch them fellate her, bash teachers, bash unions and NEVER, EVER ask her in a way that brooks no b.s. about the cheating scandal and cover-up.

    Give Jay Matthews credit - same for the USA Today crew that did the investigation (including Matthews' wife who was the main editor on the story.) They did the work that the inspectors-general did not do, that the Obama USDOE isn't interested in doing, that the corporate media like MSNBC isn't willing to do.

  2. And that flatulent neo con fellating p.o.s. Chris Matthews refers to Rhee as the greatest thing to happen to D.C.'s schools. Neo liberal scum.