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Michelle Rhee, fake test scores and the real agenda?

May 22, 2011 - Mike Maneval
Michelle Rhee, former superintendent of the school system of Washington, D.C., has become nationally known for her approach to education reform - and is under fire now for widespread cheating, likely instigated by administrators and not the students - and actions of which Rhee may have known and may have covered up.

First, questions must arise about whether the standardized testing most accurately reflects education and retention levels for the test-taking students. The testing was a major component of the No Child Left Behind act, a law about which President Barack Obama continually expresses reservations. No Child Left Behind also was signed by President George W. Bush, beneficiary of frequent political donations from McGraw-Hill, the nation's leading manufacturer of standardized testing.

USA Today reporters Jack Gillum and Marisol Bello found CTB/McGraw-Hill itself recommended the D.C. school system launch an inquery into a far-higher-than-average rate of erased answers in which an incorrect answer was replaced with the correct answer. Rhee initially resisted, then selected a consultant to conduct a review that The Daily Beast described as "cursory" and said "absolved every school of wrongdoing."

And under Rhee's controversial "merit-pay" policies, the administrators and faculty at the schools in question got between $8,000 and $10,000 in bonuses.

And yet, despite this scandal surfacing, Rhee remains a popular fixture on many political scenes. The Daily Kos website notes she spent last Thursday at a viewing of the pro-charter schools film "Waiting for Superman" with Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, after attending a conference earlier in the month with Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and our own Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. Daily Kos pundits look at her circle of friends - and their seeming lack of concern about whether the results in Rhee's district were produced by school principals with erasers in hand and dollar signs in their eyes - was because the real agenda is "driving down working conditions for teachers and support staff."


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