Domestic, Elementary / Primary / Junior, Ethics, Lawsuits, Public education, Regulatory, Required, School teachers - Written by on Friday, March 2, 2012 7:00 - 0 Comments

Opinion: NYT’s Winerip Questions Chumminess of Arne Duncan & Michelle Rhee

Columnist Michael Winerip at The New York Times reports on an “unsettling” scene from a recent education conference: Ed. Secretary Arne Duncan and former DC schools chief Michelle Rhee sharing a stage. Winerip notes that Mr. Duncan’s department, last summer, was investigating whether the Washington school officials cheated to raise test scores during Ms. Rhee’s tenure.

You would think Mr. Duncan would want to keep Ms. Rhee at arm’s length during the investigation. And yet there they were, sitting side by side last month, two of four featured panelists at a conference in Washington about the use of education data.

“This is an amazing panel, so I’m thrilled to be part of it,” Mr. Duncan said in his opening comment.

If there is any hope of getting to the bottom of what went on in the Washington schools — whether Ms. Rhee is as amazing as Mr. Duncan said, or whether test scores were inflated by cheating — it is through the inquiry by the inspector general. (Catherine Grant, a spokeswoman for the office, confirmed that an investigation was under way, but would not give details.)

Ms. Rhee’s reputation as a national leader of the education reform movement has rested on those test scores, which soared while she was chancellor. Then, last March,USA Today published the results of a yearlong investigation of the Washington schools that found a high rate of erasures on tests as well as suspiciously large gains at 41 schools — one-third of the elementary and middle schools in the district.

Since then, Ms. Rhee has refused to talk to the reporters who know the story best, although she has been talking to many other people. During the last year Ms. Rhee has, according to a spokeswoman, scheduled more than 150 public appearances as the head of Students First, an advocacy group that favors vouchers, charter schools and evaluating teachers by test scores, while opposing tenure and teachers’ unions.

Via The New York Times



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