Dec 14, 2011

No DC Middle School For You !

This is an op-ed piece published in the N.Y. Times newspaper. It is a must read. Who better to tell the story of school reform than a DC middle-class parent who has lived the nightmare under the direction of education deformers Rhee, Fenty and now Henderson? 

deformer: (n.) One who deforms.
December 4, 2011

Why School Choice Fails

"IF you want to see the direction that education reform is taking the country, pay a visit to my leafy, majority-black neighborhood in Washington. While we have lived in the same house since our 11-year-old son was born, he’s been assigned to three different elementary schools as one after the other has been shuttered. Now it’s time for middle school, and there’s been no neighborhood option available.
Meanwhile, across Rock Creek Park in a wealthy, majority-white community, there is a sparkling new neighborhood middle school, with rugby, fencing, an international baccalaureate curriculum and all the other amenities that make people pay top dollar to live there.
Such inequities are the perverse result of a “reform” process intended to bring choice and accountability to the school system. Instead, it has destroyed community-based education for working-class families, even as it has funneled resources toward a few better-off, exclusive, institutions.
My neighborhood’s last free-standing middle school was closed in 2008, part of a round of closures by then Mayor Adrian Fenty and his schools chancellor, Michelle Rhee. The pride and gusto with which they dismantled those institutions was shameful, but I don’t blame them. The closures were the inevitable outcome of policies hatched years before.
In 1995 the Republican-led Congress, ignoring the objections of local leadership, put in motion one of the country’s strongest reform policies for Washington: if a school was deemed failing, students could transfer schools, opt to attend a charter school or receive a voucher to attend a private school.
The idea was to introduce competition; good schools would survive; bad ones would disappear. It effectively created a second education system, which now enrolls nearly half the city’s public school students. The charters consistently perform worse than the traditional schools, yet they are rarely closed.
Meanwhile, failing neighborhood schools, depleted of students, were shut down. Invariably, schools that served the poorest families got the ax — partly because those were the schools where students struggled the most, and partly because the parents of those students had the least power.
Competition produces winners and losers; I get that. Indeed, the rhetoric of school choice can be seductive to angst-filled middle-class parents like myself. We crunch the data and believe that, with enough elbow grease, we can make the system work for us. Naturally, I’ve only considered high-performing schools for my children, some of them public, some charter, some parochial, all outside our neighborhood.
But I’ve come to realize that this brand of school reform is a great deal only if you live in a wealthy neighborhood. You buy a house, and access to a good school comes with it. Whether you choose to enroll there or not, the public investment in neighborhood schools only helps your property values.
For the rest of us, it’s a cynical game. There aren’t enough slots in the best neighborhood and charter schools. So even for those of us lucky ones with cars and school-data spreadsheets, our options are mediocre at best.
In the meantime, the neighborhood schools are dying. After Ms. Rhee closed our first neighborhood school, the students were assigned to an elementary school connected to a homeless shelter. Then that closed, and I watched the children get shuffled again.
Earlier this year, when we were searching for a middle school for my son — 11 is a vulnerable age for anyone — our public options were even grimmer. I could have sent him to one of the newly consolidated kindergarten-to-eighth-grade campuses in my neighborhood, with low test scores and no algebra or foreign languages. We could enter a lottery for a spot in another charter or out-of-boundary middle school, competing against families all over the city.
The system recently floated a plan for yet another round of closings, with a proposal for new magnet middle school programs in my neighborhood, none of which would open in time for my son. These proposals, like much of reform in Washington, are aimed at some speculative future demographic, while doing nothing for the children already here. In the meantime, enrollment, and the best teachers, continue to go to the whitest, wealthiest communities.
The situation for Washington’s working- and middle-class families may be bleak, but we are hardly alone. Despite the lack of proof that school-choice policies work, they are gaining popularity in communities nationwide. Like us, those places will face a stark decision: Do they want equitable investment in community education, or do they want to hand it over to private schools and charters? Let’s stop pretending we can fairly do both. As long as we do, some will keep winning, but many of us will lose."

Natalie Hopkinson is the author of the forthcoming book “Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City.”

Nov 8, 2011

A Call To Action: Save DC's Schools!

By Candi Peterson

In the midst of upcoming contract negotiations, there are big plans ahead to close our traditional public schools. Never in our history has been there been a greater need for teachers and school personnel to have an effective union. Our very future as educators and the future of our students will be determined by how vigorously we, alongside parents and community members are willing to fight to save our schools.

I invite all Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) members to come out and get involved in our WTU Representative Assembly to be held Tuesday, November 8 from 4:30-6:30 pm. at McKinley Technology Senior High School @ 151 T Street NE. Washington, DC. Let's do more than just give lip service to save our schools.

Earlier this week, The Washington Teacher blog featured an article about future plans to close additional public schools. Below for your perusal I have included an excerpt from the 21st Century School Fund newsletter which outlines the purpose of the Illinois Facility Fund (IFF) study which was commissioned by Deputy Mayor of Education, De'Shawn Wright and is expected to be completed at the end of November. As indicated in the 21st Century School Fund September/October newsletter (below), IFF's analysis is being conducted with plans to right size DC public schools and could lead to reconstitution of our public schools and/or replacement with school management operations. The loss of our public schools is a disinvestment in our school communities and may lead to fewer jobs, higher classrooms sizes, further declining enrollment and extinction of traditional public schools.

Independent public schools budget analyst, Mary Levy has applied IFF's  methods to DCPS and public charter school data. Ms. Levy's analysis has found that schools located in wards with higher socio- economic status are considered to be "performing" while schools in wards with lower socio-economic means are considered to be "non-performing". It is a no brainer, that schools in our poorest wards would likely be faced with closure of traditional public schools while schools in affluent wards like ward 3 would go unscathed. (see map below)

Empower DC, a grassroots community based organization is continuing to hold strategic planning meetings to fight school closures across the city and encourages all to become involved. Their next scheduled meeting will be held on Thursday, November 17 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. @ the Deanwood Recreation Center located at 1350 49th St., NE. For additional information, contact Daniel @ or call 202-234-9119 ext. 104. Please encourage your school community to get involved now before it's too late. Additional meetings will be held throughout the city at later dates.
Study for "Right-Sizing" D.C. Schools Anticipated
"The Deputy Mayor for Education, with a 100,000 dollar grant from the Walton Family Foundation, engaged IFF (Illinois Facility Fund) to study the capacity and performance of DCPS and public charter schools.

IFF has authored reports in Denver, Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Louis, using a defined method to determine what they term "performing" or "non-performing" seats.  This analysis is being done with an eye to "rightsizing" district schools which beyond consolidation could include reconstitution and replacement with school management organizations. 

Mary Levy, independent public school analyst, applied IFF methods to DCPS and public charter school data and found that where "performing seats" are located correlates with household wealth and family income of students.  So that ALL schools in high wealth neighborhoods are "performing" and those in low wealth neighborhoods and with large numbers of children from low income families are "non-performing" with a very few exceptions, as illustrated in a map and data-tables.   The IFF findings are expected to be issued at the end of November.  There has been no public input or discussion solicited on the methods, criteria, or purpose of this study. *Click on the underlined word map to enlarge the DC Wards map.

Nov 3, 2011

Closing Time For More DC Public Schools

By Candi Peterson

Empower DC, a well respected community grassroots organization hosted a gathering on Thursday evening, November 3 at the Dorothy Height Library to discuss DC's plans to close more traditional public schools. People assembled from all walks of life including Ward 7 residents, parents, teachers, former principals, nurses, representatives of Teamsters-local 639, community activists, ANC representatives and yours truly. Some familiar faces that I saw included: Mary Levy, former DCPS parent and DCPS budget analyst, Mary Melchior, DCPS parent from Capitol Hill Montessori and Richard Patterson, former principal of River Terrace Elementary school.

Daniel del Pielago, organizer and facilitator of the Thursday meeting reminded attendees that Chancellor Kaya Henderson told parents during the spring that the city could not afford to continue to operate more than 40 schools with enrollment figures lower than 300 students. This  summer, a decision was made by Deputy Mayor of Education, De'Shawn Wright to commission an Illinois based firm known as the Illinois Facilities Fund (IFF) to conduct a foundational study which will help determine which schools will be proposed for closure. While IFF has done similar studies in Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee and St Louis, it is interesting that funding for this project was provided by the Walton Family Foundation who owns Wal-Mart. No competitive bidding process occurred. It is expected that the study will be completed by the end of November.

This study will be looking at schools test scores to determine if a school is “performing” or not.  They will not take into consideration other ways that a school is excelling for its students, parents and community. In similar studies, schools were determined to either be performing or not performing based on whether they meet or exceed 75% of the state standard in both reading and math. In DC, that standard would equate to 55% or more proficiency rates on the DC CAS. The numbers below reflect the number of “under performing DCPS schools” by wards: Ward 1 = 8 schools, Ward 2 = 3 schools, Ward 3 = 0 schools, Ward 4 = 11 schools, Ward 5 = 11 schools, Ward 6 = 11 schools, Ward 7 = 20 schools, and Ward 8 = 20 schools. We could potentially face high closure rates in some of our poorest wards.

After closing 23 schools during the Michelle Rhee administration in 2008, DCPS saw a 17 percent drop off rate in enrollment according to Washington Examiner Reporter  Michael Neibauer's September 8, 2008 article: "DC Public Schools Enrollment shows 17 percent drop off." Mary Levy who was quoted in Neibauer's 2008 article stated: "parents want some certainty, and closing schools is pretty much guaranteed to lead to loss of enrollment because we have so many other options." Those at the Empower DC meeting echoed these same concerns that were voiced earlier in 2008.

Many at the meeting saw the goal of another round of school closures as part of an ongoing reform model to privatize public education by closing traditional public schools with plans of replacing them with charter schools. Participants chimed in that DC Public Schools had not been transparent during this process  and that the study had no plans to include focus groups of critical stakeholders. While Deputy Mayor De'Shawn Wright has been quoted as saying there will be public input, it seems that community input will not be considered until after the preliminary analysis.

The meeting concluded with a brainstorming of ideas on next steps to fight school closures of our traditional public schools. Plans are being made for additional meetings to be held throughout the city. Participants were encouraged to spread the word and get members from their school communities actively involved. If you want to become involved in saving our public schools, contact Daniel by email @  or call 202-234-9119 ext. 104.

Stay tuned as more details emerge on upcoming meetings.

Oct 31, 2011

More DCPS School Closings On The Horizon!


        Did you know that the Deputy Mayor for Education (De’Shawn Wright) has hired a Chicago based firm to do a study on how DC neighborhoods are served by the public school system ? (traditional, public and charter)

      The information found by this study will be used to make a case to close schools in the District and/or to turn them over to National Charter School Managers

        This study will be looking at school’s test scores to determine if a school is “performing” or not.  They will not take into consideration other ways that a school is excelling for its students, parents and community

        The numbers below reflect the number of “under performing DCPS schools” by Ward
       Ward 1 = 8 schools, Ward 2 = 3 schools, Ward 3 = 0 schools, Ward 4 = 11 schools, Ward 5 = 11 schools, Ward 6 = 11 schools,
Ward 7 = 20 schools, Ward 8 = 20 schools

You should be concerned about the possible impact to your school and community!

Please attend Thursday, November 3rd 
for an Empowerment Circle to:

        Inform yourself on what is going on with this study and school closures
       Learn and plan action steps you can take at your school
      Connect with other concerned parents and community members from around the city working against school closures

When – Thursday November 3, 2011
Where – Benning Road/Dorothy Height Library
3935 Benning Road, NE – Walking distance from Minnesota Ave. Metro (Orange line)
Time – 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Please RSVP to Daniel del Pielago – 202-234-9119 ext. 104 or

Feel free to distribute this information to your school and community!

Oct 22, 2011

Silencing Dissent

I had the pleasure of doing an  interview with DC journalist, Pete Tucker who writes the FightBack blog and covers local news stories the main stream media shys away from. We were streaming live from Occupy DC. I hope you will read his article (below) and check out my interview @   


Seven months after the membership of the Washington Teachers’ Union elected Candi Peterson general vice president, she was unceremoniously, and possibly illegally, removed from office at the behest of WTU President Nathan Saunders. “Our president basically colluded with the chancellor’s office to [get rid of me],” Peterson said yesterday in an interview with TheFightBack that was livestreamed from Occupy DC at McPherson Square on K Street.
As a matter of contract, District of Columbia Public Schools grants WTU presidents and vice presidents leaves of absence from their teaching positions, which allows them to serve full time in their capacity as elected union officials. But DCPS and Saunders revoked Peterson’s leave in a September memorandum, forcing her to return to the classroom.
Peterson has been a fierce critic of the so-called school reform carried out by former Chancellor Michelle Rhee and her number two, Kaya Henderson, who replaced Rhee as chancellor. “Kaya Henderson has every reason to want to silence me. So does Nathan Saunders, I guess,” said Peterson.
The official word on Peterson’s status remains ambiguous. In a Sept. 21 letter to WTU members, Saunders said that Peterson “was not fired, terminated, nor ousted.” This is hard to square with the fact that she’s no longer general vice president and she didn’t step down by choice.
Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander questioned DCPS’s role in Peterson’s removal in an Oct. 18 email to the chancellor. Henderson responded, “President Saunders no longer required the full-time services of Ms. Peterson and therefore no longer needed her to be on leave from DCPS.”
Peterson, like Saunders, was elected by the WTU membership, and therefore it’s unclear whether DCPS has the legal right to revoke her absence based on the wishes of the president.
At a crucial time for DCPS, with talk of layoffs and school closings once again circulating, a critical voice is missing. Ironically, the effort to silence Peterson is being led not by the anti-union Rhee/Henderson team, but by the WTU president.
Related Links:
The Washington Teacher

Sep 20, 2011

NO WTU Vice President For You AGAIN!

Written by Candi Peterson

It's official, I have been ousted from my elected position within the Washington Teachers' Union, AFL-CIO, Local 6 on September 19, 2011  by WTU President Nathan Saunders. Get this, the revocation of my leave of absence from DCPS, was authored by none other than Nathan Saunders and co-signed by Jason Kamras, Deputy Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools. Some might argue that this is graphic evidence that Nathan is now in bed with the Office of the Chancellor, none other than Rhee's nemesis who I like to refer as Kaya and company. Sound familiar?

Monday was one exhausting day for me. The real sordid details will have to be left for another day and another time and place. First, I must ask you to not to cast judgment on me, at least not at this time. That's what Saunders and the WTU Executive Board did to me- when they denied me my inalienable right to due process. I was never afforded a hearing, the board never heard my side of the story, never informed me that I would be the subject of discipline in an executive board meeting, never afforded me the opportunity to face my accusers or prepare a defense before severely disciplining me by stripping me of my WTU constitutional vice presidential duties, my WTU pay and my free speech rights to even discuss myself  or my own case with anyone, etc. The only thing I kept was my title. Imagine that? My lawsuit speaks to these facts. Despite these atrocities, I continued to come to work at the WTU until my leave of absence was revoked.

While you will hear that I am erratic and unprofessional, I just ask you to think back to the very person that you have known me to be and the person who has written this blog for the past three years. A lot of things describe me, but those adjectives do not reflect reality. Just some hyped up public relations smear campaign.

Once I was elected, my goal was to continue to help teachers and school personnel. This very blog was instrumental and effective in standing up for teachers as well as pointing out the flaws of  Rhee's slash and burn administration. Afterall this blog is what our members asked the WTU leadership to continue, once elected. Don't think for every minute, that I didn't try my best. I took the same passion evidenced right here and continued advocating on behalf of our members to the K Street union office. My only regret is that I wasn't able to complete the job that members elected me to do. I worked well with Nathan Saunders and he didn't have complaints about me until I went to the media about my suspension of pay by him unilaterally. When I filed my lawsuit to restore my rights as an elected leader, things simply deteriorated and Saunders retaliated. In one day, I received four letters of reprimand from him. Saunders' fury was like a lover scorned.

I hope you will return to The Washington Teacher blog for more, as details emerge. For now, I hope you will peruse Bill Turque, (AKA Washington Post writer) rendition of the WTU story as told on his DC Schools Insider blog. I'd like you to ponder this question: What type of internal remedies and/or changes to the WTU Constitution do we need to make so being ousted as a labor leader doesn't ever happen again in our union history? By the way, WTU has no internal appeal processes when there is a disagreement between the union president and the general vice president. I'm listening ? 

© Candi Peterson 2013

Teachers’ union vice president ousted in dispute with president Saunders

Seems like it’s been incorporated into the Washington Teachers’ Union by-laws: that the union president and the general vice president shall be at all-out war.
First it was George Parker and VP Nathan Saunders, who disagreed on union strategy for dealing with Michelle Rhee. Saunders contended that Parker wasn’t pushing back hard enough against Rhee initiatives such as IMPACT. The tensions led to Saunders suing Parker (unsuccessfully), and Parker moving to bounce Saunders (temporarily) back to teaching, alleging that he hadn’t been doing his job.
Now Saunders, who unseated Parker last year, is locked in a similarly nasty fight with his vice president, Candi Peterson. Peterson sued the union for breach of contract last month after she was effectively suspended from her vice presidential post. Today, she had her leave of absence from her school social worker post revoked by DCPS at Saunders’ request.

The particulars of the dispute are not completely clear, but Peterson said it started when Saunders spoke abusively to her at a July staff meeting, something that Saunders denies. Saunders, for his part, says that Peterson’s behavior had been erratic and unprofessional.
Saunders and Peterson were running mates (as were Parker and Saunders) in last fall’s election, positioning themselves as staunch critics of Rhee and former Mayor Adrian Fenty. But after the election, Saunders wanted Peterson to tone down some of the posts in her blog, The Washington Teacher. Saunders said he told her they needed to focus on meeting the needs of their members and preparing for significant challenges over the next year, including the likely closing of some schools.
“We have to lead these people,” Saunders said he told her.
Peterson said yesterday that Saunders has started to resemble the man he replaced. “He’s fired seven people (in the union office). I make number eight,” she said. “He’s become George Parker. In fact, far worse.”
He’s basically become a dictator. He’s doing the same thing George did to him.”
Saunders said he tried to work with her, asking her to take courses at the National Labor College to improve her skills, but that the relationship had deteriorated. Peterson said Saunders tried to get her to sign what she called “a political suicide note” forbidding her from talking to the press or blogging.
Her last post on The Washington Teacher, dated August 24, includes a disclaimer she is “not writing in my official capacity as WTU General Vice President, but rather as an announced candidate in the 2013 WTU election.”
By   |  04:22 PM ET, 09/19/2011 

Aug 24, 2011

Why is Michelle Rhee Silent on the DC Cheating Scandal?

Disclaimer: I am not writing in my official capacity as WTU General Vice President, but rather as an announced candidate in the 2013 WTU elections and WTU member.
Candi Peterson

Michelle Rhee is refusing to talk to USA Today reporters about the testing cheating scandal that occurred on her watch while she was DC Public Schools Chancellor (2007-10). Hmmmm inquiring minds want to know why Ms. Rhee, with her infamous gift of gab won't open up on this topic ? The article below, which was featured in the NY Times newspaper on August 21 is a 'must read' on the latest controversy surrounding Rhee and USA Today.

By the way, someone sent me the featured photo of Rhee with students with tape over their mouths which is symbolic of the irony of this story.

August 21, 2011

Eager for Spotlight, but Not if It Is on a Testing Scandal

WASHINGTON — Why won’t Michelle Rhee talk to USA Today?

"Ms. Rhee, the chancellor of the Washington public schools from 2007 to 2010, is the national symbol of the data-driven, take-no-prisoners education reform movement.

It’s hard to find a media outlet, big or small, that she hasn’t talked to. She’s been interviewed by Katie Couric, Tom Brokaw and Oprah Winfrey. She’s been featured on a Time magazine cover holding a broom (to sweep away bad teachers). She was one of the stars of the documentary “Waiting for Superman.”

These days, as director of an advocacy group she founded, StudentsFirst, she crisscrosses the country pushing her education politics: she’s for vouchers and charter schools, against tenure, for teachers, but against their unions.

Always, she preens for the cameras. Early in her chancellorship, she was trailed for a story by the education correspondent of “PBS NewsHour,” John Merrow.

At one point, Ms. Rhee asked if his crew wanted to watch her fire a principal. “We were totally stunned,” Mr. Merrow said.

She let them set up the camera behind the principal and videotape the entire firing. “The principal seemed dazed,” said Mr. Merrow. “I’ve been reporting 35 years and never seen anything like it.”

And yet, as voracious as she is for the media spotlight, Ms. Rhee will not talk to USA Today.

At the end of March, three of the paper’s reporters — Marisol Bello, Jack Gillum and Greg Toppo — broke a story about the high rate of erasures and suspiciously high test-score gains at 41 Washington schools while Ms. Rhee was chancellor.

At some schools, they found the odds that so many answers had been changed from wrong to right randomly were 1 in 100 billion. In a fourth-grade class at Stanton Elementary, 97 percent of the erasures were from wrong to right. Districtwide, the average number of erasures for seventh graders was fewer than one per child, but for a seventh-grade class at Noyes Elementary, it was 12.7 per student. At Noyes Elementary in 2008, 84 percent of fourth graders were proficient in math, up from 22 percent in 2007.

Ms. Rhee’s reputation has rested on her schools’ test scores. Suddenly, a USA Today headline was asking, “were the gains real?” In this era of high-pressure testing, Washington has become another in a growing list of cheating scandals that has included Atlanta, Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas.

It took the USA Today reporters a year to finish their three-part series. So many people were afraid to speak that Ms. Bello had to interview dozens to find one willing to be quoted. She knocked on teachers’ doors at 9:30 at night and hunted parents at PTA meetings. She met people in coffee shops where they would not be recognized, and never called or e-mailed sources at their schools.

Hari Sevugan, a spokesman for Ms. Rhee, said the reporters were “provided unprecedented time and access to report out their story,” including many meetings with senior staff members and the chief of data accountability. By last fall, Mr. Sevugan said, district officials’ patience was wearing thin. The deputy press secretary, Satiya Simmons, complained in an e-mail to a colleague, “Jack Gillum isn’t going away quietly, Uggh.”

“Just stop answering his e-mails,” advised Anita Dunn, a consultant who had been the communications director for President Obama.

The reporters made a dozen attempts to interview Ms. Rhee, directly and through her public relations representatives. Ms. Bello called Ms. Rhee’s cellphone daily, and finally got her on a Sunday.

“She said she wasn’t going to talk with us,” Ms. Bello recalled. “Her understanding was we were writing about” district schools “and she is no longer chancellor.”

On March 29, the day after the story came out, Ms. Rhee appeared on the PBS program “Tavis Smiley” and attacked USA Today.

“Are you suggesting this story is much ado about nothing, that this is lacking integrity, this story in USA Today?” Mr. Smiley asked.

“Absolutely,” Ms. Rhee said. “It absolutely lacks credibility.”

Mr. Smiley asked if she was concerned that she had put too much pressure on teachers and principals to raise scores. “We want educators to feel that pressure,” she answered.

Ms. Rhee emphasized that the district had hired a top security company, Caveon, to investigate in 2009, and was given a clean bill of health. The district released a statement from John Fremer, Caveon’s owner, saying, “The company did not find evidence of cheating at any of the schools.”

However, in subsequent interviews with USA Today and this reporter, Mr. Fremer made it clear that the scope of his inquiry was limited, and that the district had not requested that he do more. Indeed, Caveon’s report, posted on USA Today’s Web site, was full of sentences like, “Redacted was interviewed at redacted.”

Teachers described security as “excellent” and “very vigilant,” and investigators, for the most part, took their comments at face value.

It did not take Ms. Rhee long to realize she had miscalculated. Three days later, she told Bloomberg Radio she was “100 percent supportive” of a broader inquiry.

Still, she would not talk to USA Today. Mr. Sevugan gave no explanation, but pointed out that she had spoken with several other news outlets.

The reporters did not give up. On April 26, Emily Lenzner, a spokeswoman, wrote Mr. Gillum, “Michelle is willing to do an interview, but we’d like to do this in person.” She asked if they could hold their story, and arranged for a meeting on May 3 at the StudentsFirst office in Washington.

On May 2, another Rhee spokeswoman e-mailed to say the reporters were too interested in cheating and not enough in StudentsFirst. She said they could submit a list of questions.

There were 21 questions; Ms. Rhee did not answer 10 of the 11 about cheating.

Mr. Gillum, who recently took a job at The Associated Press, said he was surprised by how unresponsive Ms. Rhee has been. “She talks about how important data is, and our story is data driven,” he said.

So that people could make their own judgments, Linda Mathews, the project editor, posted the relevant public documents on the USA Today Web site.

Shortly after the follow-up story appeared, the district’s inspector general began what was supposed to be an inquiry, but in July The Washington Post reported that just one investigator had been assigned. “Basically it was one guy in a room who made 10 phone calls,” Mr. Toppo said.

Officials with the federal Department of Education have indicated that they are assisting with the investigation.

In Washington, two investigators spent five days at eight schools. In Atlanta, the state deployed 60 investigators who worked for 10 months at 56 schools. They produced a report that named all 178 people found cheating, including 82 who confessed. There was not a single case of “redacted and redacted doctoring redacted grade answer sheets at redacted.”

People in Atlanta could go to prison. Last week, a grand jury issued subpoenas seeking the names of school employees who had received bonuses for test scores. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that there were subpoenas for “signed copies” of “any and all oaths of office” taken by Beverly Hall, the former superintendent.

The three reporters still hope to interview Ms. Rhee. “Absolutely,” said Mr. Toppo.

Which brings things full circle: Why won’t Ms. Rhee talk to USA Today? "