Nov 22, 2009

Is Rhee's Education Reform Ship Sinking ?

In today's Washington Examiner article,  Leah Fabel discusses Rhee's  interference in a federal probe involving sex charges against her now fiance' Kevin Johnson, former St. Hope administrator and now mayor of Sacramento. In this article, I am quoted as saying Rhee's ship is sinking. Fabel also labels those who criticize Rhee as detractors including me. While I have been called worse names than a detractor, what gets under the skin of some on this educational reform scene are the often misquotes of student achievement by our mainstream press. 
Many of you who read local blogs are familiar with efavorite who posts rather frequently on a variety of websites. Our very own efavorite took the opportunity to set DC Examiner reporter Leah Fabel straight on her misquotes of NAEP student achievement math scores attributed to Rhee in today's Examiner article. I have taken this opportunity to post both Leah Fabel's article and efavorites comments. You tell me is Rhee's ship sinking ?

"Candi: Thanks for posting this. I sent Leah Fabel this email to set her straight on the NAEP scores."Good morning Ms. Fabel. Below is the official referenced information about the NAEP scores that you should be aware f before you misstate them again. Please check out the following websites: and
You will see that Michael Petrilli of "Education Next" and the Fordham Foundation backed off his claim of Rhee's success once presented with the facts, which of course, he should have checked before publishing his story giving Rhee all the credit. 
Update from efavorite: Since posting the scores, I've been advised that the scores include charter schools as well as regular DC public schools. I rechecked the NAEP site and this is accurate. I don't know of a way to separate out the scores, but I am guessing, based on other comparisons between DCPS and the charters, that differences would not significantly change NAEP results. However, I can't be sure.
Here are the scores:

DC's NAEP math Scores, 200-2009
DC 4th grade math
2000- 192
2003- 205
2005- 211
2007- 214
DC 8th grade math
2000- 235
2003- 243
2005- 245
2007- 248
2009- 254
While there had been a steady increase in DC math scores over the last nine years, as you can see from the chart above, the increase was often greater in the years before Rhee came. Also considering that her reform of firing teachers didn't begin until May 2009, after the latest NAEP testing had been completed, she can hardly take credit- that would logically go to the teachers she's been intent on firing." - efavorite

Report may jeopardize Rhee, school reform

Examiner Staff Writer
November 22, 2009

By Leah Fabel Examiner Staff Writer The future of dramatic school reform begun by D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee could be in jeopardy, not from the teachers union or the city council members with whom she has tangled, but because of past personal relations. Already embroiled in fierce local battles over a recent round of teacher firings, Rhee is now facing allegations that she helped cover up charges of sexual misconduct against her now-fianc? Kevin Johnson, mayor of Sacramento, Calif. A congressional Joint Staff Report by two ranking Republicans, which details Rhee's involvement in the matter, was first reported by The Washington Examiner Friday morning. 

And just as anger and protest over the school layoffs was beginning to subside, some of her detractors saw a new opportunity to pounce. "It'll be the elephant in the room," said Councilman Harry Thomas, D-Ward 5, one of Rhee's most vitriolic opponents in recent weeks. "It'll put questions in people's minds about her credibility and her ethics in general." Rhee, speaking through a spokeswoman, said that the report "rehashes old allegations that have long since been dismissed and deemed meritless by local and federal law enforcement officials." But Candi Peterson, who sits on the board of trustees for the Washington Teachers Union and who helped organize multiple protests against Rhee over recent teacher firings, said that Rhee's "ship is sinking." "If this had come up by itself, people might have said "what the hell," Peterson said. "But because it's coming on the tail of everything else - the layoffs, the mayor's contract issues, it's starting to paint another picture." 
The question now is what picture will become the dominant image in the mind of D.C. voters - that of an autocrat tainted by scandal, or that of an uncompromising reformer with results to stand by. That picture is clouded by the new revelations. The congressional report examined the White House's June firing of Gerald Walpin, U.S. inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service. In August 2008, Walpin called for "criminal and civil prosecution" of Johnson and his partner at their Sacramento community organization, St. HOPE Academy. Johnson, an ally of President Obama, was suspected of misusing Americorps dollars - and volunteers. Walpin was fired in the spring of 2009, prompting the congressional inquiry into whether his dismissal was politically motivated. No charges have been filed related to allegations against Johnson, his colleagues, or Rhee. St. HOPE employee Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez told IG office investigators that Rhee, who also worked with St. HOPE at the time, was informed that Johnson had made sexual advances toward an employee. Rhee said she was "making this her number one priority, and she would take care of the situation," Wong-Hernandez said. Soon afterward, Wong-Hernandez said that Johnson's lawyer had contacted the victim and that all was smoothed out. Wong-Hernandez retired over the school's handling of the incident, according to the report. The congressional report quotes the young woman as saying the attorney "basically asked me to keep quiet," and that Johnson offered her $1,000 a month for the duration of her time with St. Hope. Once investigators learned about that, the report says, they had "reasonable suspicions about potential hush money payments and witness tampering at a federally funded entity." 
In Rhee's two and a half years at the helm, standardized test scores have gone up all over the city, including on the NAEP, or Nation's Report Card, where D.C. public school students made more progress in math last year than students in any other state. Her "detractors may use [the allegations] as another part of their case for why she's unfair, but I don't see it as having relevance on her philosophy or approach or management of the school system," said Jeff Smith, executive director of community advocacy group D.C. Voice. "Reform is not always analogous with positivity," Smith said, adding that whatever happens with Rhee, city residents are the ones who own the changes, good or bad.

Posted by The Washington Teacher featuring Candi Peterson, blogger in residence 


NYC Educator said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with being labeled a detractor. After all, there's a lot there to detract, and someone has to do it.

Senior Citizen said...

Yes, Michelle Rhee's ship has been sinking for quite a long time since she came to DCPS but DC officials, including our dictator Mayor Fenty refused to admit it. Michelle Rhee and her camps are liars of the 21st century and they are getting away with anything.

Time To Say Goodbye said...

Rhee's ship is sinking fast. I love your illustration. Everyone knows she is on her way out. Word is Fenty hasn't been pleased with Rhee since she couldn't keep a lid on the city's displeasure with teacher and staff layoffs. Coverage of this story was almost daily.I'm ready to buy Rhee a 1 way ticket to anywhere in these United States.

Anonymous said...

The Teabaggers were and are distractors. The do not speak the truth.

Rhee's so call distractors speak the truth. Too bad the new way of reporting the news does not include investigations. Simply calling some one on the telephone or emailing them is not the only way to get liable or truthful information. What happen to the good old days of reporting the news or facts?

A newspaper can not operate on perceptions alone.

Maybe I'm just old school!

disgusted said...

Rhee mentioned that no criminal charges were filed. Isn't it against the law not to report allegations of abuse to a minor? If so, she is the worst kind of person to try to shield an adult. She ought to be made to answer why she didn't contact Child Protective Services, regardless of what she thought. what in the world is going on here? The council needs to hurry and look into why she keeps coming up short with money. Ghandi needs to get on his job and stop thinking he is above the task of monitoring dc govt finances and that he is some big whig trying to secure good bond ratings for the city. I thought the fiance officer was to have someone look over the budgets submitted by agency heads before they are signed off.

Anonymous said...

I vote sinking ship.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the typo!

The Teabaggers were and are distractors. They do not speak the truth.

Rhee's so call distractors speak the truth. Too bad the new way of reporting the news does not include investigations. Simply calling some one on the telephone or emailing them is not the only way to get liable or truthful information. What happen to the good old days of reporting the news or facts?

A newspaper can not operate on perceptions alone.

May be I'm just old school!

What ever happened to people thinking for themselves and not allowing others to persuade them? We must use information that is provided and form your own opinion.

Rhee distractors are providing a service. Unlike the WaPo, the distractors provide information so that people can formulate their own opinion.

Anonymous said...

I though children mattered to MR. Looks like KJ matters more. Yes, watch there will be a quick wedding so that they can not testify against each other.

Shame on MR. MR was trying to bring his charter school to DCPS?

Will she be able to explain this situation away? Does MR think everyone believe the words that come out of her mouth? People like her trip up at some point, hopefully for this city, this is the big slip up!!!!!!

lodesterre said...

It's a shame that the sex scandal aspects of this story are obscuring a larger issue: namely that if Michelle Rhee had been properly vetted through a proper approval process she would never have been given control of our schools.

If you read the IG report on Kevin Johnson's misuse of Americorps funds and volunteers you will find, toward the end, that Michelle Rhee was simultaneously listed as being on the board of directors, the Chief Operating Officer, President, as well as a consultant to St. Hope on 3 projects. I believe this is called "double-dipping" except that in this case it is quadruple-dipping. There are so many ethical questions that should be asked of her beyond the sexual allegations.

I have more details concerning the other accusations and a link to the IG report at my teaching blog, Believe me, you might begin reading thinking you will skim but you will find yourself completely engrossed by the number of ethical violations that Johnson committed and that Rhee seems to have been complicit in these acts by the sheer number of positions she held at St. Hope.

Anonymous said...

Is this just the tip of the iceberg?

How can a woman with two daughters marry a man who was alleged to have had improper conduct with young women. (Rhee and Johnson)

Why didn't the city council know about this when Rhee was a candidate for the job?

How much did the White House know?
(Obama, Johnson allies)

Who is really in charge of the Fenty/Rhee political machine?

Anonymous said...

Yes, we all think her ship is sinking, but unfortunately all the new in the last 5 years residents of the city think she and the Mayor are doing a bang up job. I'd love to see him get voted out and her on the first plane to Sacramento, but it's just not going to happen. The Washington Post (which did not even cover the story of the Rhee-fixer upper) and the Federal City Council continue to support her and him, and until they have ceased to be useful to those two powerful entities, they will stay. And frankly, I'm afraid of who the Post and FCC would replace Rhee with-someone who is even more intent on privatizing the system and firing even more teachers? It's all just incrementally turning DCPS into a fully privatized system, and every supt or chancellor is worse than the one before. I can hardly stand it.

Anonymous said...

Remember this: Rhee says, "I've always liked children more than I've liked adults."

Brokaw Visits Rhee on Route 50 Tour

As a strictly geographic matter, Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's office at 825 North Capitol St. NE is not along Route 50, which enters the District from Maryland via New York Ave., jogs across town to Constitution Ave. and exits to Virginia across the Roosevelt Memorial Bridge.

But she's close enough for a visit from Tom Brokaw, who features her this evening at 7 pm on the USA Network as part of his "American Character Along Highway 50," a series of dispatches about notables along the road that stretches from Ocean City, Md. to Sacramento, Ca.

Rhee, who got into some hot water locally last year for her broom-wielding image on the cover of Time magazine, takes the former NBC anchor into a D.C. school to schmooze with kids and listen to her story. According to a USA press release posted on the TV blog The Futon Critic, Rhee says, "I've always liked children more than I've liked adults."

The statement also says Rhee talks about how she is "transforming her district by closing down dozens of failing schools and firing hundreds of teachers; changing the way schools recruit, select and train qualified teachers in difficult-to-staff schools by fighting for six-figure salaries; and most controversially, by rewarding students with money for good behavior."

"Rhee's tireless efforts to be the voice of underserved students makes her a true American Character," USA says. "147 miles down, 2,926 to go."

Bill Turque
By Bill Turque | July 1, 2009; 12:34 PM ET | Category: Bill Turque , Education

MR states that adults are not important as she moves to reform DCPS. The only adults that are important to her are those to who carryout her agenda and Kevin Johnson.

I need help understanding why MR did not help those young ladies. They may be poor and circumstance where there parents could not assist them, but MR had a legal as well as moral obligation to help these young ladies.

Also, although no charges where filed does not mean that the act did not occur. It was for law enforcement to make that determination.

How did that young lady feel once money was thrown at her? Will this money assist her emotionally? Can these young ladies trust adults?

What is wrong with MR and others like her? Some of decisions people like MR are making is troubling.

Popularity and fame at any cost is a serious matter.

Kings said...

lodesterre - thanks so much for helping sort out what is a very complex story. I agree that sex is not the only or the most important element of it. However, it is the element that grabs the most immediate attention and in that respect is good because once more people start paying attention, the more they will see the deeper, more troubling elements of the case.

efavorite said...

Candi - Thank you for posting my email to Leah Fabel of the Examiner. I also tried unsuccessfully to post it as a comment on the Examiner site.

I want to clear up something: Since posting the scores here, I've been advised that the scores include DC charter schools as well as regular DC public schools. I rechecked the NAEP site and this is accurate. I don't know of a way to separate out the scores, but am guessing, based on other comparisons between DCPS and the charters, that differences would not significantly change the NAEP results. However, I can't be sure. If anyone knows of a way to separate out charter schools, please advise. Thanks

change we can't believe in said...

This is "change we can believe in?" Looks like the same old Washington shenanigans to me.