Monday, February 27, 2012

Amid a Federal Education Inquiry, an Unsettling Sight

This from the New York Times:
What was Arne Duncan doing sharing the stage with Michelle Rhee at a recent education conference? 
Duncan is the education secretary. 

Ms. Rhee was the chancellor of schools in Washington from 2007 to 2010. 

Since last summer, the Office of the Inspector General in Mr. Duncan’s department has been investigating whether 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.
(A spokesman for Education Secretary Arne Duncan, cautioned against the presumption of guilt in an investigation of Washington schools under the direction of Michelle Rhee.)
“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...


Anonymous said...

Sounds like they are circling the wagons.

Anonymous said...

The President of Western Kentucky University has more pressing concerns than monitoring student speech. What's next: will he confiscate the yearbooks like they did at Kentucky State University? One way to show you are a mediocre education leader is to try to censor student speech.

Richard Day said...

I don't have an opinion on the administration at WKU...simply don't know enough. But this feels like a misstep to me.

One of my students told me (that his girlfriend had heard...(so we're talking third-hand rumor here) that students who were found to have posted the #bigredcommunism badge (shown in the story WKU above) on their facebook pages were fined....somehow.

Like I more than my knowledge.