Monday, March 28, 2011

the empress has no clothes

Michelle Rhee, former Chancellor of DCPS, and current CEO of RheeFirst StudentsFirst, seems to be above many things including telling the truth. (Note to Rhee: Crossing your fingers behind your back doesn’t make lying ok.) She seems to be especially truth challenged when test scores are involved. She has well publicized, both in print and in her live act, her miraculous success as a novice, untrained, non-credentialed teacher with her second grade students in Baltimore. After year one of being an admittedly ‘crappy’ teacher, she magically morphed into the best teacher EVER, raising her kids’ scores to unfreaking believable majestic heights.

Her official resume found in the online magazine, DCPSWatch, boasts of her success:

Teach For America (1992-1995):
  • Taught in Harlem Park Community School, one of the lowest-performing elementary schools in Baltimore City, effecting significant measurable gains in student achievement. Over a two-year period, moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90% of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher.
It’s mentioned on her Wikipedia page, and you can even watch her performance on Youtube!

Wow. Just wow. How did she do it? And why, being the talented miracle worker that she is, did she suddenly leave teaching altogether? How could she be so stingy with using those superpowers that could change the trajectory of zillions millions so many young lives?

Now having had 14 years in the classroom as a primary grade teacher, I must admit that when I first heard of Rhee’s miraculous claims, I was a bit skeptical. Ok, I admit it. I was A LOT skeptical. I mean, seriously, from the 13% to the 90th percentile OR HIGHER for 90% of her students. Call me Debbie Downer, but really, no way, dude. Not without some serious cheating manipulation.

And then along came Guy Brandenburg, a former D.C. math teacher, who was more than well equipped to solve a number problem. Being puzzled by the probability of making such stunning growth, GFBrandenburg decided to dig a little deeper. And dig, he did. Upon perusal of his work, one could only say to Rhee, "Liar, liar, pants on fire!"

Rhee, with her trademark chutzpah, wiggling this way and that in the press, was unable to come up with any evidence to support her lies claims. Instead, she began strutting her skills as an Olympic level back peddler. And then....

"When standardized test scores soared in D.C., were the gains real?"

screamed USA Today.

And the answer is......

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