Why Does Anybody Listen to Anything Said by Michelle Rhee & Her Kind?

An aside:

It really is insane to keep building “public” charter schools when we have vacant really public schools that are part vacant. Wasn’t the idea of public charter schools was to carefully try out different experimental approaches, to see which approaches worked best, and then have all schools adopt the successful ones? After the first round of experiments, then another round of experiments could be tried, sort of like how scientists are supposed to operate? And aren’t education and sociology generally attempting to be empirical and scientific — isn’t that what these “data-driven” educational evaluation models supposed to be?

Appears to me that since the “instruments” that these data-seekers use are entirely defective, all of the “findings” of the current group of educational deformers readings are worthless and a waste of time. They lurch from one half-assed idea to the next without waiting for results. Some, like Michelle Rhee, are famous for declaring victory before her experiment was even begun, and then lying about the results.


(The instruments are, of course, badly-written standardized tests prepared by underpaid temporary workers that have no real classroom usefulness at all. It’s the equivalent of measuring your personal character by the shapes of the bumps on your head, or predicting the future by casting lots, or studying tea leaves, the lines on your palm, or even animal entrails a la Cicero and Caesar..)

Rhee has been forced to admit, to the DC City Council, that she made up all those supposedly specific figures, about those supposed miraculous results she pretended to have achieved while she taught for THREE WHOLE YEARS in Baltimore?

But Rhee has never dealt with the other cheat that shows up on the record published by UMBC, many years ago, as part of a careful study of an experiment, of which Rhee herself played a small part, because she taught for several years of a relatively-well-controlled scientific experiment on the efficacy (or lack thereof) of a for-profit model of educational delivery. (What happened is that the city of Baltimore, under some pressure, allowed an experiment where Edison/Tesseract company took over so many Baltimore City schools and ran them their way (whatever that was) and the exact same number of closely=-matched BPS schools would be watched and measured on lots of different criteria, and then the public and the politicians could study the evidence and see which approach worked best.

Bottom line? The study concluded that there was no big difference.

Nobody at the time wrote any headlines about Michelle Rhee bringing a class of 2nd graders for two years into third grade, and that “she brought a class from UNDER the 13th percentile to OVER the 90th percentile” or whatever version of the story Rhee felt like telling on that day.


Had it really happened, don’t you think that the Edison company wouldn’t have found a way to leak it to the prerss? After all, Edison lost a lot of money and cliients and opportunities to make BILLIONS of dollars by having their project shut down – about the same time that Rhee quit teaching forever.

It’s like the dog that DIDN’T bark in the night. If Rhee had made stupendous progress, a self-serving, self-promoting person like Michelle Rhee would have arranged to have it publicized to the skies. It’s not in ANY of the newspapers that Rhee claimed it was published in. (Another lie!)

And when you take a slightly closer look at the data from those 3 years at those dozen or schools, you do notice two very peculiar things about Rhee’s own school:

(1) A huge amount of attrition – about half of each cohort disappeared after 3 years — no other school had that. Where did those kids go? Why? I can only guess, but somebody does know;; those records exist somewhere, I bet.

(2) Many, many kids (we are talking 20-30%) of the kids in a number of schools, in particular Rhee’s school and grade level, scored so low that their scores weren’t even counted. What on earth? Those kids scores aren’t counted at all? Wow! Hmm … that might give an unscrupulous person, perhaps someone whose name rhymes with “Wheeee!”: if  you get half of your kids, especially those from the lowest-scoring half, to drop out (you’ll miss some, but no matter), the scores of the remaining ones will look great. And if you can somehow manage to arrange to make sure that the answer sheets of a number oof other kids are SOOOO BAAD that they get tossed out completely, why you could in fact probably get your scores up a LOT. (If the scores were normally distributed, and you could cut off the entire bottom 50%, plus cut off the bottom 20% of the remaining half, that leaves only 40% of the students, all ones at the top half, and your remaining group would be by definition all above the 60th percentile. An excellent lesson in “How to Lie With Statistics”, newly revised edition by Michelle Rhee.

Why does anybody listen to this serial liar? Why do supposedly intelligent billionaires give her so much money?

It’s not like anything she tried ever worked.

It’s not like she hasn’t got caught red-handed, so to speak, lying her ass off.

In the real sciences, when a scientist makes a claim based on lies, he/she has to give up his/her awards, positions, their name on papers and institutions, and suffers public embarrassment FOREVER. Because they lied. Some even have the go so far as to commit suicide in disgrace.

But not charlatans like Michelle Rhee and Michael Millken (the cheating, early-released felon who stole BILLIONS from the rest of us; which shows that if you want to get rich by crime, it’s best not to use guns and knives — spreadsheets and law degrees are much more effective, and earn you almost no time in jail at all…)

Yeah, MM is back — the cheating liar has served a mere 2 years of his 10-year sentence, and he is trying very hard to join these other lying,, thieving politicians and crooks in cashing in on the privatization bonanza/gold rush that’s going on right now in the field of education.

(Making a mistake, admitting it later after either being shown the error or finding it out yourself, and then changing your mind and actions, as most real scientists do, are fine. Arguing and debating the results, great. But lying and covering up evidence are about the two worst things a scientist can do.

(Another aside: Unfortunately for us, those are precisely the problems with medicine and drug treatments today. Pharmaceutical companies are HUGE businesses today; their products have revuolutionized life today (kids don’t get measles, mumps, rubella, polio, whooping cough, scarlet fever, smallpox, and/or hepatitis the way my family did before about 1960), but we know for a fact that they do NOT publish the results of negative trials and tests. (They aren’t the only ones doing this. The Alternative Medicine section of NIH essentially does the same thing: lots and lots of studies on acupuncture, herbs, crystals, aromatherapy etc are started, but after 10 years and umpteen thousands of dollars later, nothing is published as to results? Not a word? How come? One could certainly be forgiven for becoming a bit cynical and concluding that the results were so abysmal (either the alternative medical route was worse than the regular medical course or the placebo, or else there were no differences at all?)

And our Dear Leader Kaya Henderson? Michelle Rhee’s acolyte all these years, backing her up all that time, never calling her out on her serial fabrications of evidence. And who was Michelle Rhee’s advocate and creator? None other than Joel Klein, who has been dismantling NYC public schools for about a decade — though he had never, ever taught a class in his life and had no experience running any individual school.

Klein now works for Rupert Murdoch, if you hadn’t heard.

But here’s the kicker: what was the result of the Edison/Tesseract experiment in privatisation in Baltimore:

Simple: No better results but the privatized schools cost quite a bit more.

What has been the results of study after study of charter schools and merit pay and paying students to do well, and so on?

Results are about the same and often worse, when dealing with average kids. The ones that appear at first to do better (eg KIPP) do serious winnowing of their low-performing students.

Does that negative result stop anything?


Boys and girls, this is the true zombie or vampire of our day: The idea that our public schools should be given over to private corporations, and re-segregated again by race and income and so on, while those who stand to profit from this move engage the best PR agents and think tanks to learn how to pretend that they are doing the exact opposite.

Just like the Confederates kept claiming they were fighting for ‘freedom’.

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/why-does-anybody-listen-to-anything-said-by-michelle-rhee-her-kind/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Your questions are spot on as per usual. I have a few to add regarding the Rhee/Johnson tag team of CA. Given Kevin’s proclivity for the young, young ladies that has cost him several hundred thousand dollars; why hasn’t that be addressed by the media. If I were a politician, I sure as hell wouldn’t want a photo taken with them. So why the silence?


  2. Rather than seeing this as a political problem, I would ask why she hasn’t been indicted for fraud?


    • Only peons get charged or indicted for crimes nowadays. Everyone else gets a free pass. (HBSC, war criminals, polluters, bankers, et alia)


      • Sometimes simply calling for indictments frames an issue differently. You are right that often too many “too big to fail” get a free pass. But defining her publicly as someone whose actions constituted a mis-use of public money – i.e. fraud – can help start a new perception of her personna.


  3. Deception, distortion, fraud, and misrepresentation have simply become the normal order of business in the commercial world these days.

    Liars are furthered because they serve the purpose of their backers. It’s called advertising.

    The original scope and purpose of charter schools as carefully monitored and marginal experiments was perverted by people who saw how they could be weaponized in a sneak attack on public schools and converted into mass market cash cows that raided the public’s prior investment in them.

    It’s the same process we have seen in other spheres. Corporate raiders and rip-off artists plunder the stores of value that the public and its true value creators have carefully built up and nurtured over the years, taking their massive but transitory profits and skipping town before the victims know what hit them.


    • I’ll just add that since the victims of these people are often poor and lack the income/ability to influence local politicians that they continue to suffer the consequences of corporate raiders and their lackeys.


  4. And then there’s this complete smack down of Rhee’s lies and deceptions on the situation in Seattle. But Rhee-ject, like so many other vulture edupreneurs just keeps doing the Lemon Dance from lie to bald faced lie. I would die laughing if she got a lemon meringue pie in the face for her trouble. It would be too perfect. http://prosserjohn.tumblr.com/post/44848476440/michelle-rhee-is-wrong


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: