"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Michelle Rhee's Miracle Teaching Turns Out to Another Enron Education Story

It is customary in this era of education reform fashioned on the Enron model to find impressive miracles quickly turning to disappointing mirages upon closer examination.  From Houston to New York City to Boston and Chicago, from L.A. to Atlanta, we find that test scores that sound too good to be true, are.  

As Michelle Rhee's resume indicates, she has been claiming miracles from her TFA stint in Baltimore for a long time. She actually used her tales of miracle test score gains at the Edison/EAI school where she worked to leverage a position in New York prior to coming to DC.  What's amazing is that no one ever bothered to check her story that we know of, which was easy enough to do (even for Jay Mathews), since a conclusive research study was readily available through the federal clearinghouse, ERIC, that shows Rhee's claims that 90% of students at her school in Baltimore moved from the 13th to the 90th percentile was pure and unadulterated fabrication, i.e, a black lie.  A black lie that Michelle Rhee has repeated at every opportunity for years, so often that we must wonder if she came to believe her own lie. 

Well, we would probably still be believing Michelle's big lie if it were not for G. F. Brandenburg (ht to Stan Karp):

Answers to the Latest Quiz on the Baltimore-Rhee “Miracle”

Here are the answers:

(1) There is not a single Baltimore Edison/EAI/Tesseract school at which students in math jumped from the 13th percentile to above the 90th percentile, in either CTBS reading or math, at any grade level, during the period 1992 through 1995.

(2) The school where Michelle Rhee taught was school O (with a yellow background).

(3) The ones that were run by Tesseract/EAI/Edison were schools J, L, O, R, and S. The regular Baltimore public

(3) The ones that were run by Tesseract/EAI/Edison were schools J, L, O, R, and S. The regular Baltimore public schools were schools K, M, N, P, and Q.

If you group the two sets of schools, results appear to be about a wash.

This study is pretty conclusive evidence that Michelle Rhee was flat-out lying in her resume, in her testimony about her resume, and in her interview last month in the Washingtonian magazine.

Here are the graphs again, with the names of the schools written in:

If we were to use the criteria of Jason Kamras, Eric Hanushek, and Michelle Rhee, then Rhee should have been fired after the first year or two.
Why does this resume flap still matter?
Simply because this person, who is proven to be a repeated liar, continues to nearly dominate the national discussion about “reforming” public education. (read: destroying public education) She has absolutely no shame about lying to the public with an absolutely convincing demeanor. Perhaps she believes her own lies. If that was the only problem, nobody would care. But there is a problem: she is succeeding in demonizing teachers in general and in steering the public away from the real changes that need to happen in the American public educational system, and towards changes sought by the same billionaires who are plundering the entire planet, widening the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us, and who recently threw millions of Americans out of work.
PS: here is my data source.

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