Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Rhee on TV Frontline Tonight - Cheating Scandal Addressed But What Else?

There is some excitement about John Merrow's Frontline report on PBS tonight at 10PM with people feeling she may get her comeuppance. I have my doubts. Even the title: The Education of Michelle Rhee bothers me.

As if she actually learned something from her experience instead of executing a political, not educational, agenda, which she has continued to this day. One thing Rhee learned: she could manipulate media types like Merrow who went all mushy over her at one time. Is this film Merrow's minor mea culpa for bad reporting?

One of the MORE people sent this email.
You might want to spread the word to interested parties to watch the Frontline coming up tonight, PBS, 10 PM, which centers on Michelle Rhee's rise to wealth and fame on wings of reform, DC testing scandal - cheating, reform issues. I'm watching.
My husband just emailed me this Esquire article by Charles Pierce who writes a scathing piece on corporate stink in ed reform, has done so before, too. He mentioned the upcoming show. Comments on his blog are good, too...

Also see: 
NYC Public School Parents : “Our parent report card for Michelle Rhee and StudentsFirst”

When Merrow sent out an email last week advertising we would learn a lot about Rhee I emailed him: You mean she is married to a child molester? No response.

But I never expect much from Merrow who used to love Rhee - and Vallas in New Orleans – he ignores way too much stuff.

Just heard John Merrow on NPR. I don't have high hopes he will pin too much on Rhee. It is the pressure she put on people but she did not intend for people to cheat -- as if she did not know what the outcomes of the pressure would be and her career would hang on good outcomes.

Her big mistake may be that she didn't understand the need for collaboration in education. What a crock.

And then he echos her lies that she raised test scores (she claims astronomically) when she taught -- I believe Bob Somersby took that lie apart - he also taught in the Baltimore schools for over a decade. See GF Brandenburg's brilliant analysis.


I saw an embargoed copy of the show. I'm not permitted to say much, but will say that Rhee's claim of astronomical score gains when she taught in Baltimore were restated in the documentary without correction---although they were thoroughly debunked by GF Brandenburg and others. I pointed this out to John, even sent him the column in which Jay Mathews admits he is convinced that her claims were inflated. Maybe he added a correction? We will see.

Well, there you go. 

My brief moment of glory came at an Education Nation 2011 panel with Rhee that was chaired by NBC's Rahema Ellis who focused questions at the Atlanta former school board rep while ignoring Rhee's cheating scandal. I got to the mic and asked Ellis why she was ignoring that point. Embarassed she turned to Rhee and asked but did no follow-up. So much for the ed deform press. And though I feel the Frontline report will focus on the cheating, I am betting Rhee will escape relatively unscathed. Though of course her report card media blitz yesterday was designed to deflect -- though if you read all the blogs -- start with Ravitch -- you will see what a farce even that turned out to be -- her top states have the worst test scores.

No sense from this interview on NPR that Merrow gets a hint of the Rhee political agenda from the very beginning. He tries to straddle the fence now after being on the side of deformers but has seen the outcomes. Hmmm, like Randi.

One revealing comment he made when talking about the 2 sides of the ed divide-- one by Rhee, the other by Ravitch. He slips when he says that the Ravitch side has fewer voices but quickly corrects himself. Like the enormous numbers of teachers and parents out there don''t count for much.
As if there are 2 voices -- one funded by billionaires and one grassroots but somehow the imbalance is never addressed.

One billionaire voice counts for many. And make sure to check the funding sources of Frontline -- bet Gates money is floating around somewhere. Any ed deformers involved?

I wonder if there is a clip of Randi as a supposed major opponent to Rhee when in fact Randi helped sell a contract that helped undermine the teachers and the DC union. And Randi also interferred in a union election for fear they would not ratify her and Rhee's contract.

I will be watching though to see just how deep Merrow was willing to go in a complex story.

Here is lots more info on Leonie's listserve from Rethinking Schools' Stan Karp.

Rhee-form in the spotlight again

Former Washington, DC Superintendent Michelle Rhee and her organization, Students First, will be the subject of a PBS documentary tonight. Despite misrepresenting her own teaching career, presiding over an extensive cheating scandal, and getting poor results during her tenure as Supt., Rhee has become the media face of corporate education reform. She recently released a “state report card” grading states on the basis of how thoroughly they have adopted proposals for test-based teacher evaluation, charters, and privatization. States with more funding equity and better academic performance generally received lower grades than states that passed legislation advancing Rhee’s political agenda. In NJ, Rhee has been a favored ‘reform’ partner of the Christie Administration. Her Students First NJ affiliate is “Better Education for Kids” a lobbying group backed by Republican hedge fund billionaire David Tepper.
Frontline, PBS Documentary, airs Tuesday 1/8
Washington Post
Valerie Strauss, Washington Post
NJ Spotlight
NYC Public School Parents
Jersey Jazzman

Marie Corfield, Blue Jersey


Assailed Teacher said...

As a watcher of both Frontline and Michelle Rhee all I can say is that I am not very hopeful of their coverage. Frontline is a nice show, but it often misses big points to chase down small details. I doubt it will criticize Rhee very harshly at all, although it won't be a gush-fest over her either.

reality-based educator said...

Alex Pareene at Salon:


SubRex said...

The show was a tremendous failure to put it mildly. It seems that Merrow was intent on providing the bare minimum to give the facade of objectivity in this farce. Rhee has been proven a liar by the brilliant investigative journalism of GF Brendenberg. Why wasn't the findings of that investigation included in the documentary?

I think this will cost both Merrow and Rhee a lot more in the long run as the blatant lies and obfuscations in the piece are being proven across the net.

If there isn't a follow up to this documentary including Brendenberg, the school privatization movement, and in particular Eli Broad, FRONTLINE will lose all legitimacy.

ed notes online said...

We did the documentary Frontline should have done - The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman. gemnyc.org/our-film