Michelle Rhee to speak at St. Rose commencement

michelle rheeMichelle Rhee, the former chancellor of the Washington, DC public schools, will be the speaker at St. Rose's commencement this year.

Rhee's an interesting choice. She's pushed hard for reform in DC schools during her tenure -- generating attention, controversy, and seemingly, results. She was also was featured in the documentary Waiting for Superman. But a recent investigation by USA Today raised questions about whether the dramatic rise in test scores at one of the DC schools touted by Rhee was actually the result of cheating. Time Magazine named her one of its "Time 100" today.

Admission to the St. Rose commencement is by ticket only. We asked a college rep whether there would be any public events involving Rhee while she's here -- he said there's no word on that, yet.

Meanwhile, over at RPI: U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin will be the main commencement speaker this year at RPI.


UAlbany's speaker this year is alumnus (and Albany native) Gregory Maguire '76 (author of Wicked, which was made into the Broadway play).


St. Rose educates a lot of current and future teachers, so it's strange that they would choose an anti-teacher fraud as commencement speaker.

Sure, they'll get some publicity, but most of it will be negative.

It's not really fair to say she's anti-teacher. Sure, she's anti-some-teachers (those that fail) but not anti-all-teachers.

It's sad the way people jump on her back - at least she's trying to do something...

Before anyone says this fraud, phony, piece of crap is "doing something" - look at her history...

-She takes over as head of DC's horrible schools

-The schools, and test scores, start "turning around"

-She is hailed as a hero to the education reform crowd

-At the peak of her notoriety, she quits as head of DC schools, and coincidentally the same day, her website and Twitter go active, and she later hires a publicist.

-Her book debuts, talking about her "struggles" and "hard work"

-A deeper look at her test scores reveal a MUCH, MUCH higher percentage of erased/corrected answers - answers that were wrong, erased, and changed to correct. Many tests featured up to a dozen erasures, and ALL changed from wrong to correct. As one statistician said, "the odds are better for winning the Powerball grand prize than having that many erasures by chance"

-Obviously, any mention of this to Rhee and she calls it an "attack on school reform".


Jay -- here's what Diane Ravitch, a real education professional not beholden to billionaires, has to say about Rhee's kind of education:

"Her celebrity results from the fact that she has emerged as the national spokesman for the effort to subject public education to free-market forces, including competition, decision by data, and consumer choice ... (which) produces, predictably, cheating, teaching to bad tests, institutionalized fraud, dumbing down of tests, and a narrowed curriculum."

Rhee's star is falling, except among those on the right who have always hated public education.

Again, a strange choice for St. Rose.

Mike -- Rhee quit in D.C. before she would have been fired.

Her "reforms" were very unpopular, and when the D.C. mayor who was her sponsor lost in the 2010 Democratic primary, she saw the writing on the wall.

From the link:

"Rhee spoke about her failure to communicate, though it is hard to think of any figure in the world of American education who had as much media attention as she has had over the past three years. Certainly, she did not lack for opportunities to communicate. Her critics say that her fundamental flaw was arrogance and an indifference to the views of parents and teachers."

And that was before it was discovered that Rhee is a fraud, who countenanced administrative cheating to improve standardized test scores.

@devtob - I wonder if you described Ravitch as a "real education professional" when she was on the side of people like Rhee. Or did she only become "professional" when she started agreeing with you?

But I'm sorry, you're right. The school system is perfect as is. Move along, folks.

Jay -- Diane Ravitch has a long career in education policy, including a Ph.D. in history from Columbia and a stint as assistant secretary of education under Bush I.

Her dissertation was published as her first book (of 10 so far) -- The Great School Wars: New York City, 1805–1973.

Ravitch was "on the side of people like Rhee" until she saw that charters and teaching to the test were not working, as she writes in her latest book -- The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.

Rhee earned a bachelor's in government from Cornell, then taught in the Baltimore schools for three years under Teach for America.

Her miraculous claims about her students' improvement there have been debunked, but nonetheless launched her education career.

She got on the Walton/Gates/Broad "education reform" gravy train for a while, and picked up a master's in public policy from Harvard.

Rhee's tenure as head of D.C, schools is not without controversy -- again her claims of students' test scores improvements have been seriously questioned in a recent USA Today article.

Ravitch has done some of that questioning. From the wiki link, "Education expert Diane Ravitch has questioned the legitimacy of Rhee's results, alleging that 'cheating, teaching to bad tests, institutionalized fraud, dumbing down of tests, and a narrowed curriculum' were the true outcomes of Rhee's tenure in DC Schools."

Now, Rhee is back on the billionaires' gravy train, and honored by colleges like St. Rose.

Our de facto segregated (by race and income) urban school systems are not perfect, but Rhee's approach to resolving the problem has not worked.

For the kids anyway -- she's made out quite well.

Though she has yet to write her first book.

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