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August 2, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Rhee Becomes Chair Of Local Charter Schools — Will Have Less Time To Damage Rest Of Us

Michelle Rhee has just been named board chairwoman of St. Hope Schools, the small group of Sacramento charter schools begun by Mayor Kevin Johnson, her husband.

With luck, this means she’ll have less time to damage public education elsewhere.

Her national organization, StudentsFirst, has also just pulled out of five states.

Perhaps the headline on Salon’s recent article was accurate: Education “reform’s” new Ann Coulter: A reeling Michelle Rhee passes the lead to Campbell Brown

February 8, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

From The Archives: “4 concerns about Michelle Rhee”

I’ve recently re-started an effort I’ve tried to do previously by regularly highlighting previous posts and articles I’ve shared in previous years that I think might be worth a second look.

Today, I’m highlighting a short piece I wrote for The Washington Post three years ago titled 4 Concerns About Michelle Rhee.

Here’s an excerpt:


May 20, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: “How Michelle Rhee Misled Education Reform”

How Michelle Rhee Misled Education Reform is an extraordinary article in this week’s New Republic magazine. It’s written by Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and author of several exceptional books.

Here’s a short excerpt:Rhee-simply-isnt

Here’s some more info on on Rhee (who lives and is based a few miles from our school):

4 concerns about Michelle Rhee is a short piece I wrote for The Washington Post.

The Best Posts About Michelle Rhee’s Exaggerated Test Scores

The Best Resources On The Memo Warning Rhee About Cheating (“It seems to me a responsible executive really ought to have looked further”)

April 13, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources On The Memo Warning Rhee About Cheating (“It seems to me a responsible executive really ought to have looked further”)

You may have heard about the memo just uncovered suggesting that Michelle Rhee may have covered-up numerous acts of standardized test-cheating in order to ensure that it appeared her reforms were working (similar to the Atlanta scandal).

Here’s a New York Times article reporting that the Washington, D.C. City Council will be having hearings on the memo next week (the title of this post comes from a researcher’s quote in that article).

And USA Today has a good overview, too.

Here’s an excellent MSNBC video report on the memo and its implications:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

You might also be interested in:

The Best Posts About Michelle Rhee’s Exaggerated Test Scores

4 concerns about Michelle Rhee

February 5, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: Watch The Extended Interview Jon Stewart Did With Michelle Rhee

Michelle Rhee was on The Daily Show last night. I thought she generally came across as quite reasonable and tried to minimize and gloss over many of her beliefs. Stewart kept pressing her — admirably, I thought, while trying to maintain his nice guy persona — and the best part is clearly Part Three (the second and third parts appeared on the Web). That’s when Rhee told Stewart “You’re looking confused” when it was clear that Stewart had enough of her ducking and weaving, and he began to question her more forcefully.

I was struck by several things Stewart said during the interview, including:

teaching is an art form

teachers subjected to new offensive coordinator coming in every few years

There hasn’t really been any innovation in education since John Dewey. (this is the only time I thought he was off-base)

Teachers seem like one tool to get education on track, but they seem to be the only tool that ever gets yelled at…. There’s poverty, communities, but teachers are the only ones we tell, “Fix it, or you’re fired!”

Education can take place if the soil is fertile..

Is school the biggest factor?

It seems we’ve abandoned the model of public school in the inner city

You are creating a system where the public school becomes a place for the toughest cases [and others go to charters]

The systemic issues that are the underlying causes of the poor performances never get addressed.

The entire system of standardized tests is somewhat broken.

You might also want to view Stewart’s interview with Diane Ravitch, which was extraordinary, as well as other ones I’ve previously highlighted.

What did you think of the interview?

January 7, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Rhee Gives California Ed Policies An “F”; CA “Great Results With Diminishing Resources” Report Comes Out At Same Time

At about the same time Michelle Rhee, resident of our fair city of Sacramento, gave California education policies an “F,” a report based on actual research and focused on how students are doing in the classroom was published with the title “California’s K-12 Public Schools: Great Results With Diminishing Resources.”

No wonder our state’s deputy superintendent of instruction said:

…that the state’s F rating is a “badge of honor.” “This is an organization that frankly makes its living by asserting that schools are failing,” Zeiger said of StudentsFirst. “I would have been surprised if we had got anything else.”

You can read more about Rhee’s grading system here. And you can read about a report card given to Rhee by a New York school’s group here.

I’ve previously shared my perspective on Rhee in The Washington Post.

February 22, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

If You’re Not Suffering From “Rhee Fatigue,” Then Here Are Two Good Articles

Michelle Rhee has been all over the news, and on this blog (see The Best Posts About Michelle Rhee’s Exaggerated Test Scores and 4 concerns about Michelle Rhee). If you’re not tired of hearing about her, here are two good articles that have just been published:

Still Waiting for Superwoman: What Michelle Rhee’s fans don’t get about education reform is from Slate.

The Meaning of Michelle Rhee is by Mike Rose.

February 14, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

Today, A Reporter Asked Me What I Thought Of Michelle Rhee. This Is What I Told Him…

A local magazine here in Sacramento is doing a big story on Michelle Rhee who, apart from Governor Jerry Brown, might be Sacramento’s most famous newest resident. Their writer asked if I would be willing to answer a few questions, and we arranged a time to talk. The article won’t come out until late March, and who knows if anything that I said will even make it into print, but I thought readers might be interested in a short summary what I told him when he asked what I thought of the policies she and her allies in the “school reform” movement are promoting.

I responded by saying that I had four main concerns:

1) She seemed primarily interested in doing “to” teachers and families instead of doing “with” them. This lack of willingness to work in partnership and to listen, symbolized by her TIME Magazine cover holding a broom in a classroom, showed a lack of understanding of the basic tenets of power — sharing it with others doesn’t mean you have less; in fact, it means that the pie gets bigger for everybody with the new possibilities that are created.

2) I was very concerned with her focus on using test scores as the most important tool to evaluate teacher and student success. I referenced the discovery last week that the test scores her own students supposedly achieved when she was a teacher were far lower than she had claimed (see The Best Posts About Michelle Rhee’s Exaggerated Test Scores). That doesn’t mean she wasn’t an excellent teacher — she might very have been. It does, however, point out that standardized test scores are easy to misinterpret and are probably not the best evaluation tool for teachers — or for students. At our school, we talk about being data-informed, not being data-driven. Test results are just one of many pieces of information that should be used when we reflect on our work.

3) I didn’t appreciate Ms. Rhee and her allies regularly portraying themselves as the “true” champions of children, while the rest of us were just “defenders of the status quo.” I believe that she and many of her allies truly do want to do what they think is best for children — I just don’t agree with their overall analysis of what needs to be done. That does not mean that I do not have the best interests of my students in my heart and mind everyday. I am wary of anyone, anywhere, in whatever policy or personal arena, feeling like they have a monopoly on the truth.

4) Plenty of research has shown that two-thirds of the factors that influence student achievement occur out of school. I don’t appreciate Ms. Rhee and her allies telling us that when we state that fact, we are just making “excuses.” That doesn’t mean that my colleagues and I don’t do everything within our power to push the boundary of that “one-third” area we can influence, including working with parents to try to combat some of those other factors. But saying that poverty doesn’t have a huge impact on our students doesn’t make it so.

What do you think about what I said?  Am I missing some things?  Might I be “off-base” somewhere?

February 10, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Posts About Michelle Rhee’s Exaggerated Test Scores

The education blogosphere, and parts of the education media, have been abuzz the past couple of days over the discovery that Michelle Rhee’s often-claimed astronomical student test gains when she was a teacher were not true. This, of course, does not mean that Rhee was not a good teacher — for all I know, she was an excellent one (though I have to admit her admission that she taped the mouths shut of her students one day does give one pause).

It can mean, however, a number of other things. And here are my choices for The Best Posts About Michelle Rhee’s Exaggerated Test Scores, which provide some insightful commentary.

I think that the most thoughtful and best piece is by Alexander Russo, Rhee: Reformer’s Growing Credibility Problem.

Michelle Rhee’s early test scores challenged was written by Jay Mathews at the Washington Post.

Jay Mathews’ Lazy Swipe at Michelle Rhee by Rick Hess at Education Week is less noteworthy for Hess’ post than for the comments on it, including one from Mathews.

In the same category is the post up at Rhee’s website — the comments are fascinating.

G.F. Brandenburg’s examination of the data started it all, and he wrote a follow-up.

‘Reformers’ Playing Games With the Truth is written by John Thompson.

And Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post has also written about it.

Rhee faces renewed scrutiny over depiction of students’ progress when she taught is from the Washington Post.

Jay Mathews has an update on how the information was discovered, and links to more support that the new evidence accurate.

Additions are welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might also want to explore the over 600 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

January 21, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

More on Rhee’s Move To Sacramento — We’re “Behind The Curve”

Today, the Sacramento Bee ran a fairly extensive front page story on Michelle Rhee’s move here. Headlined Former D.C. schools chief to headquarter new education advocacy lobby in Sacramento, it also discusses her local plans:

Rhee said there are “many local organizations we have talked about working in concert with” and that StudentsFirst likely would partner with Stand Up, another education nonprofit started by Johnson.

As far as Rhee is concerned, there is much work to be done. “Sacramento is probably behind the curve in terms of some of the progressive work being done around the country,” Rhee said.

Her decision to headquarter the organization in Sacramento adds significant weight to the reform movement here, education advocates said.

It’s also a move that could prove beneficial for the mayor. By landing StudentsFirst, the national focus of a controversial debate will be cast on his city.

I can only imagine what her definition of “progressive” might be….

January 20, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

Michelle Rhee Moves Her Headquarters To…My Neighborhood

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, Michelle Rhee’s fiancée, announced today that she was moving the headquarters of her new organization, StudentsFirst, here to Sacramento.

Lucky us…

I have written quite a bit about Ms. Rhee and her education policies, which I don’t believe are beneficial to teachers, students, or communities.

(Read more about her move in The Washington Post)

December 6, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo

Michelle Rhee Ups Her Arrogance Level

I have previously posted about the incredible zealotry and arrogance that Michelle Rhee and many other school reformers have shown in portraying their beliefs as being the only legitimate ones for people truly concerned about children (see The Gracelessness Of Michelle Rhee; Just What Our Schools Need — A Second Appalling Manifesto; and/or What A Terrible Video About Parents & Schools With A Terrible Message).

Today, in Newsweek (she was also on Oprah, but I didn’t see it — I assume she communicated a similar message) she upped that arrogance level to new heights. Not only did she portray her new organization as the one true one to “defend and promote the interests of children,” she also did not stop at attacking teacher unions as the primary obstacle to change. No, now she’s also attacking school boards,too:

“…school boards… are beholden to special interests [and] have created a bureaucracy that is focused on the adults instead of the students. Go to any public-school-board meeting in the country and you’ll rarely hear the words “children,” “students,” or “kids” uttered. Instead, the focus remains on what jobs, contracts, and departments are getting which cuts, additions, or changes. The rationale for the decisions mostly rests on which grown-ups will be affected, instead of what will benefit or harm children.”

I don’t know about you, but in my experience the vast majority of  school board members are committed to making schools the best place they can be for children and spend countless volunteer hours focusing on…children.

Rhee’s list of people  she thinks are  most concerned about the needs of children is getting smaller and smaller…

October 9, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo

“The bankrupt ‘school reform manifesto’ of Rhee, Klein, etc.”

Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post has just published “The bankrupt ‘school reform manifesto’ of Rhee, Klein, etc.”

It’s her commentary on the recent appalling piece authored by several School Superintendents published by the Post (see What Are These Superintendents Thinking?).

September 21, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Why Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty Lost”

I’ve already written my thoughts about Michelle Rhee’s probable upcoming departure from the Washington, D.C.’s schools and potential move to Sacramento (see The Gracelessness Of Michelle Rhee).

For the best analysis I’ve seen about her downfall, read “Why Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty Lost” by Diane Ravitch at Education Week.

September 16, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Gracelessness Of Michelle Rhee

The arrogance of Michelle Rhee is well-known — allowing herself to be pictured on the cover of TIME Magazine with a broom in school is just the most well-known example.

One would have thought it would be difficult to top that, but she did last night after her boss, Washington, D.C. Mayor Fenty, lost the election (she is expected to leave her job as Superintendent of Schools shortly as well). She said:

“Let me not mince words, and say that yesterday’s election results were devastating – devastating. Not for me, because I’ll be fine. And not even for Fenty, because he’ll be fine, too. It was devastating for the children of Washington, D.C.”

Messianic complexes are not what schools, nor any public institution need. Memo to Ms. Rhee: No one is indispensable in any organization anywhere….

Just as many of the changes initiated by Ms. Rhee’s predecessors have been given the credit for many of today’s improvements in the D.C. schools, there is ample reason to believe that schools will improve under her successors.

In fact, the only negative that I can see happening as a result of yesterday’s election in D.C. is that it dramatically increases the odds of Ms. Rhee coming here to Sacramento after she marries our Mayor, Kevin Johnson, this month. Coincidence or not, he happened to announce today the formation of a Broad Foundation funded citywide education organization.

Uh oh….

July 24, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo

“The problem with how Rhee fired teachers”

You have heard today that Michelle Rhee (who, interestingly enough, is marrying our mayor here in Sacramento next month) fired 241 teachers today in Washington, D.C. — 165 because of poor evaluations used in a flawed assessment system. You can read more about it at the Washington Post, “The problem with how Rhee fired teachers.”

The New York Times also has an article worth reading about the firings, including good responses from local and national teacher union leaders.

You can read my thoughts on the evaluation system in a previous post titled Evaluating Teachers In Order To Fire Them? I also share there evaluation methods that I have found helpful to my own teaching practice.

For additional useful ideas on teacher assessment, you might want to check-out The Best Resources For Learning About Effective Student & Teacher Assessments.

December 7, 2008
by Larry Ferlazzo

Michelle Rhee

I’ve had had many concerns about the perspective and actions of Michelle Rhee, the Superintendent of the Washington, D.C. public schools, for quite awhile. Those concerns were only deepened by what I read in the cover story about her in TIME Magazine.

I’ll be writing a more more detailed analysis sometime in the future. For now, though, I’d like to point readers in the direction of the In Practice blog, our group blog written by teachers working in lower-income communities.

Links in that post there will lead you to some thoughtful reflections about Rhee from others whom I respect.