As the test cheating scandals heat up around the country, media attention is now increasingly focused on the issue. Viewpoints vary–from the uninformed and superficial to those that offer a deeper scrutiny on the root causes of cheating. In other words, from the stupid to the sublime. Take your pick. We are compiling a running list on recent ErasureGate articles. Please feel free [...]
In a New York Times Magazine interview last Friday, Rhee balked at the notion that she “loved publicity.” Well, for someone that doesn’t love publicity, she seems to be hitting the press circuit pretty hard. Rhee is currently making the press rounds to peddle her new memoir. Rhee has commiserated with Hannity, and been grilled by John Stewart, coddled by Pierce Morgan, and adored by the right-wing talkshow circuit this morning.
And then there is the tour for her new book “Radical.” Rhee’s is currently touring to support her new book, and using her non-profit organization to promote it. Not sure how that squares with the tax code, especially if the money goes to benefit Rhee Enterprises LLC, Michelle’s personal enrichment vehicle.
From the Huffington Post
“Rhee purported to be the face of a bipartisan movement to “transform education,” while simultaneously battling Democratic teachers unions and appearing chummy in photo ops with conservative Republican governors like Rick Scott (Fla.) or John Kasich (Ohio).
All the while, a small cadre of influential Democrats stood behind her, helping her craft messages on things like her positions on unions (that they are entitled to collective bargaining on salary issues), and trying to fend off attacks from the progressive community (one in particular thwacked her explicitly for her right-wing contacts). But in the last few months, these Democrats — including the group’s vice president of communications, Hari Sevugan, as first reported by education blogger Alexander Russo — have left the group, ceding control to a group of new hires, including president Kahlil Byrd.
Dmitri Mehlhorn, the group’s former COO, has left to lead Bloomberg Law. Mike Phillips, who served as Rhee’s chief of staff for communications, took a leave of absence this fall to work on Sen. Chris Murphy’s (D-Conn.) campaign, but ultimately never rejoined. Tali Stein, a former Hillary Clinton fundraiser who led StudentsFirst’s development, left two months ago to focus on other projects. Ximena Hartsock, a Democratic lobbyist, also left.
“There were known to be some significant differences on political strategy and policy matters, especially in StudentsFirst’s approach toward unions and partisanship,” said ao be named in order to preserve working relationships.”
After StudentsFirst’s GOP-heavy endorsements in 2012 (see “Michelle Rhee’s right turn”), it’s not surprising that the Republican majority in the Ohio legislature invited StudentsFirst to testify about school funding. As expected, Rhee’s surrogate spouted GOP talking points about school funding, class size and teacher pay.
Not everyone in Ohio is buying it, though. Teacher of the Year Maureen Reedy, in a post on Plunderbund, shreds the school privatization pitch, making her case using research findings and facts like these:
• “77% of our public schools are receiving A, B and C ratings while 77% of Ohio’s charter schools are receiving D and F ratings.”
• “Ohio’s top two charter school CEOs, David Brennan of White Hat Charters and William Lager of ECOT charters are earning multi-million dollar salaries while graduating only 30 – 40 % of their students, an ‘F’ average and paying their teachers about $34,000 a year.”
• “One of the top four recommendations from the IES is reducing class size in grades K – 3 where the average student in small classes scores about 60% higher on reading and math achievement tests.”
Reedy’s analysis gets even sharper when the StudentsFirst staffer, attempting to explain why merit pay is needed, says “teaching is not a profession.”* Reedy writes, “We teach our students to research the facts, let’s examine the research regarding merit pay reward systems for the teaching profession. Extensive studies have been done in New York City, Chicago and Nashville. There has been no proven link over time to support an increase in student achievement linked to a merit pay system for teachers.”
Read the entire post here.
* Is this StudentsFirst’s official position on teaching? If so, it explains a lot.
The Washington City Paper has an interesting little piece out today about how columnist Harry Jaffe may have ghostwritten Rhee’s new memoir. The evidence for Jaffe’s involvement seems pretty solid:
“Jaffe definitely worked on Radical to some extent. Examiner editor Stephen G. Smith, whose paper runs Jaffe’s column, says Jaffe told editors that he was working on the book. At the end of her memoir, Rhee thanks him for his help, writing, “Harry Jaffe’s writing guidance was essential.”
A more revealing disclosure comes at the end of a story Jaffe wrote for Washingtonian about DCPS in October. The disclosure reads: ‘Harry Jaffe is collaborating on a memoir with former DCPS chancellor Michelle Rhee.’”
This is interesting, because StudentsFirst staff told edu-blogger Alexander Russo that Rhee wrote the book herself.
What’s been the StudentsFirst reaction to the conflict between these two versions of reality? So far, it seems like they are taking a page from the DC cheating scandal playbook, when Rhee dodged interviews with anyone who dared to ask her anything but softball questions.
Joel Klein is a busy guy. When he isn’t putting the ole rubber stamp on documents at StudentsFirst board meetings, or advising Rupert Murdoch on how to handle the investigation into phone hacking at News Corp., Joel Klein is running Rupert Murdoch’s education privatization arm.
A recent presentation by Klein shows how seamlessly you can go from StudentsFirst talking points (pages 7 through 9) to explaining how much of the $673 billion dollar education “market” you plan on siphoning off (page 57).