Jan 8, 2010

Rhee On Her Soap-Box Again, Shame On Anderson Cooper !

Much to my own discomfort, I forced myself to watch a clip of Anderson Cooper 360. Gag me with a spoon. Here's the video clip link. Just more of the same of Rhee on her soap box with unedited teacher bashing . Many who watched Michelle Rhee on Cooper's Thursday evening show were infuriated about the production of 'What's Next -Education ?' If you were watching, the answer to that question is more of the same. Stay tuned for more firings, more firings and more firings by Chancellor Michelle Rhee . It brings to mind Bill Turque's recent article in which he reported that Rhee vowed not to make teacher cuts despite a budget deficit that extends into 20011. Seems as though the WaPo had to offer a retraction to this mis- characterization as this isn't exactly what Rhee meant. The word 'vow' afterall just isn't in Rhee's vocabulary and gives us a hint of what's up ahead. So don't be surprised if DC teachers are amongst the group to get the axe along with security and central office staff in the upcoming RIF's.
The perpetual theme of Rhee's argument on and off the show seems to continue to be that ineffective teachers are to blame for all that's wrong in urban education. Of course the show infers that ineffective teachers are typically older teachers who stay beyond their time. Even the first snap shop is an adolescent student complaining about older teachers with connections. Bah humbug ! Most students I know consider all of their teachers old even when their teachers are only 26. Seems like this snapshot was intentionally staged by Cooper's producers unfortunately.
What ate at me most is this reference to teachers as 'human capital' as though teachers are something to be disposed of. Rhee's remarks lacked substance and had she been required to be a part of an educational panel, she would have been kicked to the curb quickly by anyone with a miniscule of knowledge about public education. Even a young student featured in a clip recognized the importance of having technology to enhance learning. Rhee quickly dismissed this yet when asked by Cooper what 3 things she neeed most, she commented among them, her email and prized laptop.
Of course the show's producers allowed Rhee time to give a shout out to her boss, Mayor Adrian Fenty and put in a good word especially given that this is an election year. What was noticeably absent was any questioning about accountability for Rhee and her management team. It left me wondering where's the accountability for this 6 figure salaried crew or are teachers the only ones responsible for the state of public education ?
Far be it from me to be the only one to criticize this mediocre 2 year teacher by her own admission known as Michelle Rhee. Here's what others are stating about Rhee's appearance on Cooper 360 as recently featured on Council member Kwame Brown's blog :

  1. DC parent & resident says:

    This is another example of Michelle Rhee bashing DC teachers all across the country rather than taking responsibility for the fact that she is an inept manager and only made student achievement in DC public school worse in her tenure. (Check out NAEP scores for DC black students and how the achievement gap is worse than when she came). Rhee has to go around on the talk circuit and convince others because no one in the DC area is listening anymore to her rhetoric. Rhee like the mayor only have one weapon which is to fire thousands of DC employees. Their goal is to destroy all unions in this city and privatize city government.

    The DC city council has promised long ago an independent evaluation of our public schools as well as an internal audit. To date we are still awaiting this to happen. Many of us believe that the results will demonstrate Rhee’s exaggerated claims of student achievement and fiscal MISMANaGEMENT.

    My question is what is taking so long City Council member Brown.

    Signed, sick and tired of being sick and tired of Rhee and Fenty

  2. Chancellor Michelle Rhee spoke about everyone being accountable but herself. I think her

    performance is more important than anyone she spoke of during the interview with Mr. Cooper.

  3. efavorite says:

    What I noticed was that Rhee’s answer to practically every question was “Human Capital” (I think that’s Rhee’s management-speak for “teachers.”)

    Cooper asks what’s next in education? And Rhee answers, “I think one of the things were going to see over the next few years is a real focus on teacher quality and human capital in schools.”

    Cooper asks about changes in education and Rhee answers, “I actually don’t think it’s going to be something in the realm of computers or smart boards…. I think the real innovation is going to happen around accountability for the adults in the system…with the focus on human capital…. How we change the ways teachers are thought about in society, how they’re compensated; how they’re evaluated…. That’s what’s really going to drive the innovation going forward.”

    Cooper asks about creative solutions to education and Rhee answers, “It’s absolutely the human capital. It’s the quality of educators in the classroom and leading our schools…. “

    Why even go to do the trouble of bringing in students to comment, when they were just used as shills for Rhee to put down teachers. When the first student commented on older teachers who “have connections,” Rhee saw an opening to blast unions: “It’s a significant problem that in this country right now we have a dynamic where you can be incredibly ineffective. You can, you know, actually take kids backwards in terms of their academic achievement, every year, year in and year out and still have a job.” [I think she should be required to present the data that proves she has kept teachers on the payroll who have taken kids backwards over a period of years, and then explain why she didn’t put those teachers on the 90 day plan and have them fired.]

    When the second student suggested more technology for the future, Rhee disagreed, suggesting more focus on human capital, of course.

    This interview was a farce. Anderson Cooper simply provided a forum for Rhee to publicize her only plan for reforming DC schools — firing teachers.

  4. When Chancellor Rhee arrived in town she did not create an education plan. After much criticism, she created an educational plan 18 months into her term. Her educational plan included a plan to get rid of a significant share of her teaching workforce through buyouts, layoffs, terminations, etc.

    Chancellor Rhee has since fired a significant share of teachers, administrators and school staff without due process and without regard to their performance ratings. Rhee believes in firing probationary teachers without regard to performance, seasoned administrators with schools that have made documented gains and the list is endless. Rhee recently terminated 388 teachers and school staff via a reduction in force in November ‘09 after school started which has created over sized classes & teachers teaching outside of their certification. Rhee hired over 900 teachers this year then argued that she had a budget deficit which caused her to terminate 266 teachers and over 100 school system employees, many of whom were highly qualified and certified. No credible school system in America terminates highly qualified and certified teachers & staff while continuing to hire mainly new teachers who lack experience and are at not highly qualified. This ensures that mostly students of color are more likely to be taught by an inexperienced and un-certified teacher thereby contributing to the increasing disparity in the achievement gap between black and white students. This is also a violation of NCLB. Students of color are more likely to be taught by a teacher who is provisionally certified, inexperienced and lacking in HQ credentials.

    Certainly the piece by Anderson Cooper was a farce. I agree with e-favorite that Rhee was simply given a platform to spew her lies and continue to bash public school teachers on CNN as well as give a plug to Mayor Fenty for his next election bid. This is about capitalism and privatization of public education through hefty million dollar contracts to groups like TFA and the New Teacher Project. This creates a revolving door workforce of inexperienced teachers who stay an average of 3 years and leave before gaining the experience, professional development, mentoring, coursework and professional certification to become better teachers.

    I do hope that the DC CIty Council in their oversight role of public education will take a stand and continue to investigate instances of fraud within DC public schools. Rhee is still hiring teachers despite the fact that she claims that there is a budget deficit and one that is continuing to grow under her leadership and will require more layoffs in 2010-2011. Rhee more than likely will fire more teachers within this next year.

    I support an immediate forensic audit by the DC City Council, like the one conducted in the Barbara Bullock union scandal. I also support getting on with the independent evaluation so that the results can be provided to the public before Mayor Fenty’s next election. What can you do to help facilitate this Mr. Brown and how can we be of help to support your efforts ? It is finally time for some real accountability of Michelle Rhee.

  5. Ronnie says:

    While there is some political hay to be made trashing the chancellor (especially by those who do not support the mayor), the vast majority of residents understand and respect that she came into a system that had been wrecked by adults for political gain. We know that WTU is part of the problem. Unions can be part of the solution and are a great resource for the country, but this union needs to dismantle and a new union formed with legit leadership.

  6. efavorite says:

    Sorry, Ronnie, I do not “understand and respect that [Rhee] came into a system that had been wrecked by adults for political gain.”

    I was very excited when she first came in, because I hoped she’d improve the school system. I could not longer support her when it became obvious that her goal was simply to bust the union for the political gain of adults and didn’t care at all about effects on kids (or she couldn’t have RIFd teachers mid-year, upsetting students learning environment)

  7. Jane Doe says:

    I believe the Michelle Rhee feature on Anderson Cooper 360 was both appalling, inaccurate, biased and an example of why I will NEVER support anything Anderson Cooper speaks on, produces, writes, edits, tweets, googles or affirms in any way. It is bad enough that the City Council has allowed her to manufacture RIFs, conduct massive layoffs and to badmouth the citizens and children of the District as well as its workforce. However, when a person like Anderson Cooper gives an educational dilletante so much exposure and allows a platform for her to lie about data with no one to represent the opposite side of the argument, something is very wrong. The only scores that have improved are white students’ scores and that translates to a problem for everyone because all children must succeed!!

    Councilman Brown, you were merely ‘present’ the day Peter Nickles became the Attorney General of our nation’s capital. We need you to be present and ACTIVE to rid the city of leaders who operate in the reptilian manner Rhee espouses. Ronnie above posts that the current union needs to be dismantled and reformed into a different organization. While I agree that all organizations have their problems, it is a serious issue that Rhee is unable to respect or follow ANY RULES of any organization and that she is allowed by the supreme legislative body to operate with impunity while breaking the Anti-Deficiency Law and other similar laws.

    Rhee cannot be trusted to be responsible for anyone’s children with the destructive decisions she has made while responsible for students in Sacramento. Ms. Rhee was made aware of sexual allegations against her fiance when she was in the position of being a mandatory reporter in Sacramento. She did not. There is no statute of limitations with respect to her failure to act appropriately within the confines of the law. Rhee also interfered in a federal investigation by contacting former Inspector General Gerald Walpin, the man whom President Obama chose to fire or have fired when allegations about her fiance came out. How is this at all acceptable?

    People say this has nothing to do with her current position. What a naive perception. It has everything to do with her current position. A woman who is amoral enough to protect a man who prefers little girls to women his own age is now engaged to a woman with a child’s body. If she can interfere with a federal investigation without reproach, what wouldn’t she do? It is clear she has no respect for the City Council or even for the President of the United States if she dares to interfere with an Inspector General. After all, the President did sponsor legislation to protect Inspectors General.

    Well, he is another of Rhee’s victims. Is she more powerful than the President? Her level of power reminds me of a poignant scene of the motion picture Malcolm X where a police officer commented “That’s too much power for one man to have.” Rhee is clearly more powerful than the mayor and we all know exactly what he thinks of the City Council, of which he was once a part.

    The proper way to effect change is to follow the rules in place while making changes to the process by which things are done. It is no better for a broken system to be replaced by a tyrant, his out-of-control undereducated and underexperienced chancellor and his police chief who allegedly bends the law for the privileged.

Crystal Proctor says:

Up until today I had been a fan of Anderson Cooper but now I must add him to the list of people that don’t really care about education and our kids, these people only care about allowing Michelle Rhee to push her agenda. This is the agenda that efavorite and The Washington Teacher touched on.

I am so tired of watching Michelle Rhee bash teachers. I must agree with efavorite, her whole interview was to talk about teachers and how bad they are and how unions will make the world crumble. I am a teacher that Michelle Rhee wrongfully terminated in October and I am tired. I am tired of defendeing myself in the Post, on blogs, and on the street. It continues to shock me how people believe her lies. Despite being told that I was being fired because of a budget shortfall she continues to hire. Despite her admiting under oath, in front of the City Council, that she found out about the budget in July and stoped hiring shortly thereafter, there is proof on the DC Government website that proves otherwise. I am really tired of people of power looking the other way. She is winning her war against teachers and the students are loosing. Mr. Brown what will you do!!!

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


Nellie said...

Absolutely right on time. I agree wholeheartedly. Does anyone have the contact information to Anderson Cooper and company? We all need to contact them asap. Bravo Candi!

Kings said...

Candi - please be sure to send this stright to Anderson Cooper. If he has any remaining interesting in reporting actual news, he will take notice.

Anonymous said...

Since some teachers are paid out of the central office budget, some believe that teachers paid out of this budget will be laid off. Amazing, it really is.

Classic said...


that is the link that you can go to to post comments on the story on Anderson Cooper 360, he is also on facebook http://www.facebook.com/AC360
you can make comments there as well.
He is also on Twitter @andersoncooper

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Let him know how you feel.

The Wash. Teacher said...

Thanks Classic for that comment. I did make a comment on his blog but am awaiting comment moderation. I note in his list of rules that one must use a real name if they expect to be approved. Please check out the rules so your comment can see the light of day.

Sharon B. said...

"Ole Girl" Kaya Henderson used the term "human capital" today @ the training for Saturday Scholars. What exactly does that mean? I've heard what the perception is and I must agree. Thanks Candi

Anonymous said...

I agree, Michelle Rhee was just blowing smoke up Anderson Cooper's rear end. She's just trying to find a new job, because her current gig will be up very soon
(September, DC primaries). Maybe with a new mayor for DC we can finally get a real superintendent (I miss Dr. Clifford Janey)that has experience, people skills, and plain old-fashion respect for teachers. No one asks an older doctor, lawyer, or preacher to leave their chosen profession because they are over 40.

The Wash Teacher said...

I would be interested in hearing what other people think the meaning of human capital means ?

Kings said...

Here are some web definitions of Human Capital - they don’t sound very warm and fuzzy, do they?

The stock of skills and knowledge embodied in the ability to perform labor so as to produce economic value.

The personal attributes of an individual that are valuable in an economic context.
The health, strength, education, training, and skills that people bring to their jobs.

The accumulated skill, knowledge and expertise of workers

The stock of knowledge and skill, embodied in an individual as a result of education, training, and experience, that makes him or her more productive.

The talents and capabilities that individuals contribute to the process of production. Companies, governments and individuals can invest in this ‘capital’ just as they can invest in technology and buildings or in finances.

Human assets consisting of items such as skilled workers.