Tag Archives: Michelle Rhee

WHAT DO MOTHER THERESA AND MICHELLE RHEE HAVE IN COMMON?

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A recent study out of Canada casts doubt on the saintly reputation of Mother Theresa. Their essential thesis is that, despite the fact she took in millions of dollars in donations, the dying people for whom she cared in Calcutta were subjected to horrible conditions. Part of this, they contend, is because Mother Theresa saw beauty in suffering.

The study is really not saying anything Christopher Hitchens did not say many years ago in his documentary Hell’s Angel:

Out of the many convincing arguments Hitchens makes the one that sticks out is that, while primitive and unsanitary conditions were good enough for the people in Calcutta, Mother Theresa herself took advantage of the best medical care the western world had to offer when she got sick. That right there is enough for me to be skeptical of her motives.

To be clear, I do not mean this to be an attack on the Catholic Church. The media hyped her up way before the church did, even though the church did nothing to dispel the hype. If anything, the church saw Mother Theresa as a useful public relations tool to help prop up dreadful church attendance around the world. The blame for Mother Theresa’s undeserved reputation for purity and virtue rest with the media and the woman herself.

Mother Theresa was comfortable hobnobbing with the world’s political and financial elite. She sung Ronald Reagan’s praises, even as he was funding illegal wars in Central America that killed many members of the Catholic Church, including clergy. Her organization pulled in millions of dollars from banksters with questionable ethics, including those associated with the infamous Keating Five. All of her photo-ops provided moral cover to people who killed, swindled and oppressed millions.

What I say here is unpopular and will most likely offend many true believers. It really is no different from the way the education debate goes in this country. The media seizes upon people associated with the elite, like Michelle Rhee for example. They attribute to her selfless motives in trying to “help” some of the most downtrodden people in society. Meanwhile, what she provides to those downtrodden people is of questionable value. The question arises: what happened with all of those millions if it is obviously not going to help people?

Yet, even suggesting such a question will elicit a fair share of vitriol. How dare we question people who have made it their life’s mission to help people? We must have our own selfish motivations. Either we are anti-religious bigots of union hacks who fear accountability.

The fact that so many believe the hype about something is the biggest reason why we should be skeptical. Instead of falling into line because it is the popular thing to do, we need to be the voice in the wilderness that brings people back down to earth. Otherwise, we run the risk of group-think, tyranny of the majority and out-and-out mob rule.

Both Mother Theresa and the education reformers want for other, usually poor, people things of which they do not avail themselves. If that does not raise a red flag then nothing will.

MICHELLE RHEE BOOKS THAT NEED TO BE WRITTEN

We all know the hagiography written about Michelle Rhee called The Bee Eater.

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This inspired me with some more Rhee book ideas that, in my humble opinion, should be explored. Here are just some of the Rhee books that have yet to be published. Together, I think they capture the real Rhee experience.

The Rhee Cheater

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A young Adrian Fenty wins his mayoral race in D.C. by promising to improve the school system. Who better to run his school system than a Teach for America nooblet who never ran an organization in her life? Unfortunately, things go sour when all of the dramatic gains in test scores turned out to be the result of widespread cheating woven into the system Rhee put in place. The cost? Thousands of teacher jobs, millions of children’s futures and one bonehead mayor’s political career.

The Rhee-Peter

rheepeterThis is a story about a boy in one of Ms. Rhee’s classes named Peter. One day he was making too much noise on his way to the lunchroom, so Ms. Rhee duct taped his mouth shut. Traumatized by the experience, Peter was left back. Meanwhile,  Rhee got a promotion as the chancellor of D.C.’s schools. This is not quite the feel-good story Dangerous Minds was, but it has its moments. Instead, it is more like Misery by Stephen King.

THE MONEY RHEEPER

moneyrheeperThis is similar to the Bee Eater in that it discusses many important Michelle Rhee reforms. The difference is this book shows for whom she does the reforming. Read the stories about how Michelle Rhee will do and say anything for money and the billionaires that have it. Read how she is bent on turning schools into memorization factories and teachers into fast food workers all to satisfy anyone with deep pockets who stands to profit from all of her reforms. This book will show you who put the $ in StudentsFirst.

MY HUSBAND, THE PEDOPHILE

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Ok, so I cheated here. Let’s see you come up with a Rhee-tastic title for this one. My Husband, The Pedophile details the romantic courtship of Michelle Rhee and former NBA star (and unrepentant pedophile) Kevin Johnson. Michelle Rhee did what anyone who puts “StudentsFirst” would do. She helped a pedophile who took advantage of his position as a school leader to cover up his disgusting acts. Usually, people like Kevin Johnson go to prison to be ritually beaten and shanked by the other inmates. But, thanks in part to Michelle Rhee, not only did KJ get off scot-free but he got a wife out of the whole deal. Read how KJ scarred several children for life and how Michelle Rhee found this irresistible. It is a match made in heaven. Both KJ and MR put students first in their own ways.

Seriously, how are these books not best-sellers yet?

Michelle Rhee…. Compassion?

An old story, but a reminder of the kind of person Michelle Rhee is.

Always, she preens for the cameras. Early in her chancellorship, she was trailed for a story by the education correspondent of “PBS NewsHour,” John Merrow.

At one point, Ms. Rhee asked if his crew wanted to watch her fire a principal. “We were totally stunned,” Mr. Merrow said.

She let them set up the camera behind the principal and videotape the entire firing. “The principal seemed dazed,” said Mr. Merrow. “I’ve been reporting 35 years and never seen anything like it.”

You can tell that she actually took great pleasure in firing this principal; restrained jubilation is how I would describe it. probably the same attitude she had when she duct taped her students’ mouths shut:

Compassion? That pretty such sums it up.

Now she has landed in NYC.  God help us.

Michael Winerip: “Unsettling Sight” in Washington

Michael Winerip from the 2/27/12 New York Times:

What was Arne Duncan doing sharing the stage with Michelle Rhee at a recent education conference?

Mr. Duncan is the education secretary.

Ms. Rhee was the chancellor of schools in Washington from 2007 to 2010.

Since last summer, the Office of the Inspector General in Mr. Duncan’s department has been investigating whether Washington school officials cheated to raise test scores during Ms. Rhee’s tenure.

You would think Mr. Duncan would want to keep Ms. Rhee at arm’s length during the investigation. And yet there they were, sitting side by side last month, two of four featured panelists at a conference in Washington about the use of education data.

 

“This is an amazing panel, so I’m thrilled to be part of it,” Mr. Duncan said in his opening comment.

So, Arne Duncan’s Department of Education is investigating the school district Michelle Rhee used to run for rampant cheating on tests during her tenure as D.C. schools chancellor.

Late last month, they shared a stage at an education conference, with Duncan justifying it by saying he was part of an “amazing panel”. Between the two of them, they have no more than 5 years teaching experience.

There are people who say that Rhee should not be held accountable because she did not do the cheating. Yet, she put the system in place to judge students, teachers and schools by these test scores. When test scores increased, she was happy to take the credit.

Yet, when test scores did not increase, she blamed teachers. Many lost their jobs.

After her stint as chancellor, she used her shameless self-promotion skills to form a non-profit lobby group that continues to pull in millions of dollars from billionaires. She pockets a very hefty salary for doing so.

And now that those test scores on which she constructed her mythical legacy are called into doubt, there are people who say she should not be held accountable.

I thought Rhee was all about accountability?

And now the guy whose office is investigating these test scores and, by proxy, her “legacy”, deigns to share a stage with her.

There is a huge story in here somewhere. Not only does it call into question the objectivity of the investigation, it shines a light on the smoke and mirrors of education reform, the blurring of lines between public and private institutions and the conspiracy (there, I said it) among the billionaire boys’ club to destroy (privatize) education.

Arne Duncan needs to learn that he is no longer in high finance where the word “democracy” is a foreign term. He cannot merely share the stage with people his office, that he runs as a public servant, is currently investigating.

I know the following examples are not strictly the same, but they are in the ballpark:

What if President Andrew Johnson shared a stage with the people involved in the Lincoln assassination?

What if Al Smith shared a stage with the owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory?

What if Robert Kennedy shared a stage with the mafia?

What if Ken Starr shared a stage with Bill Clinton?

That is the idea. Something is rotten in Denmark. Unfortunately, conflcits of interest are the norm in education reform today, as well as government as a whole.

Neoliberalism at its worst: shamelessly disdainful of “We the People”. That is the real story here.

Deformers Trying to Deform a Deformed Law

(Picture from the Failing Schools blog)

The “tougher” teacher evaluation regime that looms over us all in New York must be agreed upon by the unions and districts. It is one of the stipulations of getting Race to the Top money.

Governor Cuomo’s agonizing State of the State address (you can watch it here), which was a load of self-serving hokum, did not give any actual particulars about the special committee the governor will appoint to help deal with the teacher evaluation question. It seems like Cuomo is stalling for time so he can find the best middle way to take. In other words, Andrew is doing what is best for Andrew’s political future.

But, as Gotham Schools reported yesterday:

“education reform groups are asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to install a “shot clock” on future talks… When the clock expires, a teacher evaluation system devised by the State Education Department would go into effect, according to the plan outlined in a letter signed by 13 reform organizations from across the state and country.”

Translation: the deformers want to circumvent the law by putting a deadline on all teacher evaluation negotiations. If that deadline is not met, then an evaluation system of the state’s design will be implemented instead. Of course, the union would not be in on any plan the State Education Department might make, but I’m sure a lot of Rhee and Educators 4 Excellence money would. So all school districts like our own beloved Bloomberg’s New York City would have to do is sabotage the negotiations with the union, miss the deadline and, voila, they will get the type of anti-teacher evaluations they want anyway.

The post on Gotham Schools has the text of the letter the deformers wrote the governor.

It’s really amazing. The deformers love to say poverty is not destiny and throwing money at schools will not make it better. Now here they are trying to convince the governor to screw teachers so the state does not lose its valuable Race to the Top money. All of the sudden the deformers are concerned with throwing money at the system. Next they will be calling for smaller class sizes, as long as those classes are taught by inexperienced and inexpensive teachers. The deformers will do anything for our kids as long as it involves getting rid of those kids’ most veteran teachers.