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  • Lance Mannion
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Michelle Rhee taught for three years at a Baltimore public school, under private management at the time, as part of Teach for America. Two of those three years the classes seem to have been 'co-taught'. Her achievements were never proven (records were lost) and relied on the word of her principal. There is some evidence Rhee's claims were exaggerated.

She built a career out of those three years.

I've seen bad teachers and good teachers and a lot of teachers who were just okay. Also teachers who were a terrible fit for one kid and just perfect for another. Rhee seems to think the whole problem is that teachers don't work hard enough. Maybe she's right (undoubtedly in some cases) but she's no exemplar of sticking to a job.

Of course it maybe be a case of those who can't teach, administrate.

chris the cop

"And if i was a bright and ambitious young education major I’d be applying to law schools."


"Ask good teachers these days what outside problems get in the way of their doing their jobs to the best of their abilities and most of them will probably tell you, 'Having to teach to the test.'”

I don't think that's true, at least in urban areas when looking at systemic problems. When I started out as a cop, every kid I dealt with might have had a dad around, might not, but he/she usually knew where to find him, but there was always a mother in the picture, always. By the time I retired there was never, ever a dad and there was usually no mom either. There was a grandman for a year, then an aunt, maybe mom comes back, then another aunt and maybe back to grandma.

My point is that unless you send a child home to something stable, it doesn't matter AT ALL what reforms you institute because at the end of the day the child returns to chaos. I have seen some studies of schools, particularly in Harlem, where the child is immersed in an all-encompassing 10-12 hr a day school universe and that does often produce great results, but it requires teachers to put in 12-14 hr. days which most won't (reasonably) want to do after a few years.

Maybe you can tinker with teaching standards, strengthen or weaken unions or whatever, but nothing will create improvement faster than a stable home life and specfically, a two-parent family. It doesn't matter if it's a husband and wife, or a gay marriage, it's better than a guardian-for-a-year household and that has to be taken into account if you want to improve the educational system in this country

Now I do have some thoughts on what Govs. Walker and Christie are trying to do, but I've rambled on enough on someone else's blog.

“I’m not in favor of what ought to be. I’m in favor of what works.”

I'd take that a step further and say that what works is what ought to be.


"Her achievements were never proven (records were lost) and relied on the word of her principal. There is some evidence Rhee's claims were exaggerated.

She built a career out of those three years."

Actually, BF Brandenburg has conclusively proven that her claims were a lie.

Ken Muldrew

"And there are no quotes that show that she is either a deep or original thinker on education, on teaching, politics, even though she has in effect become a politician"

Do you know of a politician who is either a deep or original thinker? Deep and original thinking takes time, a lot of time, after having spent long years studying the problems about which one is thinking. I don't believe that the requirements of success for a contemporary politician allow for deep and original thinking. Image is everything (yes, I know, this is just the measurement problem all over again, no different from standardized tests, etc., etc.).

Chris, your comment made me desperately sad. Is there any way out of this awful mess?

chris the cop


I'm sorry if I made you feel bad.

To answer your question (whether it was rhetorical or not) I haven't got a clue - I don't know how you rebuild fractured families on a national level. I just try and take care of my girls. And I tell them probably once a month: when you decide to start a family, find someone, fall in love, get married and have kids--in that order, and stay with your husband as hard as you can once those kids are born.

This does assume that there are guys out there good enough for my daughters, which obviously is not possible...

Jeff Boatright


Go read Somerby today. [Ed. note: scroll down.] He's been following Rhee since 2008. Not only have several cast doubt on her "accomplishments," but it may be that she did little to nothing when it was almost immediately determined that something was wonky about the test scores coming from her schools. And yes, it was actually her job to do something about those observations, something with great vigor.

Is Rhee just another run-of-the-mill grifter? Or a zealot spinning in on herself? Only time will tell...


Lance Mannion

Jeff, thanks for the Somerby link. Always good to be reminded to check out the Daily Howler.

Chris, from the New York article, I get the impression that Rhee pretty much rejects the idea that the situation you're describing has anything to do with what goes on in the classroom or, at least, that she thinks it's a problem that good teaching can overcome, as if a talented teacher can somehow make up for a chaotic homelife.

Ken Muldrew: Do you know of a politician who is either a deep or original thinker?

You mean besides Thomas Jefferson? Rhee is a politician-come-lately. But she's been in education for 20 years. You'd think somewhere along the way she'd have taken the time to give things a deep thought or two. But I'm just going by what's in the article or rather what's not in the article. However much thinking she's done in the past, though, it does seem as if she's given up thinking for believing. She's become a true believer in her own cause.

vjs, mcstowy, thanks for the background. Like I said, all I'm going on is what's in the article.

Owen: I'd take that a step further and say that what works is what ought to be.

I like that.

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