Time to “Rhee”sign?
On August 21, 2011 the New York Times published an article written by Michael Winerip entitled “Eager for Spotlight, but Not if It Is on a Testing Scandal”. The article profiles the spotlight-hungry Michelle Rhee, former Washington, DC schools Chancellor and founder of StudentsFirst, the highly data-driven, education reformer-beloved “student” advocacy group. Specifically, Winerip revealed that Rhee, who has never shied away from the spotlight, has been avoiding a reporter at USA Today who wants to question her about a testing scandal in DC while she was schools Chancellor. It turns out that, like Atlanta, DC has been caught eraser-handed. According to the Times:
At the end of March, three of [USA Today’s] reporters — Marisol Bello, Jack Gillum and Greg Toppo — broke a story about the high rate of erasures and suspiciously high test-score gains at 41 Washington schools while Ms. Rhee was chancellor.
At some schools, they found the odds that so many answers had been changed from wrong to right randomly were 1 in 100 billion. In a fourth-grade class at Stanton Elementary, 97 percent of the erasures were from wrong to right. Districtwide, the average number of erasures for seventh graders was fewer than one per child, but for a seventh-grade class at Noyes Elementary, it was 12.7 per student. At Noyes Elementary in 2008, 84 percent of fourth graders were proficient in math, up from 22 percent in 2007.
Sounds like Rhee, the star education reformer and essentially the voice of the reform movement to most major news outlets, has some explaining to do. As the Times states, some of the people caught in Atlanta are going to jail, because adjusting test scores is illegal. Rhee, who, according to the Times, fired a principal while being filmed by the crew of the PBS News Hour, deserves some different time in the spotlight now. She should be pressed to answer for her possible misdeeds while in office in DC and reap the consequences. If she wants teachers to feel the pressure, then Rhee should take some of her own medicine. Maybe its time to “Rhee” sign.