It's teacher hunting season!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Teacher Rhee taped children's mouths; bleeding resulted / Statistics that puncture the myth Rhee created about her own teaching record in Baltimore

Seems Michelle Rhee, the high priestess of proper teaching in her stint as Washington, D.C. schools chancellor had failures of her own during her first year of teaching in Baltimore, Maryland.

Her second grade students were verbally unruly on their way to lunch one day. How did Ms. Rhee handle the situation? She taped the children's mouths shut. How horrible! This is something that teachers might joke about, but in reality they would never do this. The way this story developed is disturbing news and a warning to those that might do this.
At the end of Rhee's lesson on behavior she took the tape from the kids' mouths. Their lips were bleeding, in Rhee's own words, in an interview excerpted in "The Washington Post" this summer.
Need more proof? Here's an audio clip of Rhee glibly recalling the story as a funny party anecdote.

In New York City this would be cited as 420-A corporal punishment. No rubber room for Ms. Rhee. She squeaked past this one and became head of the school system in the big city to Baltimore's southwest.

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Any career repercussions for Rhee? Hardly. The corporate media still love her and this episode never arises in their bios of her. Neither is there careful attention to the mythic self-representation she has created about her own teaching record in Baltimore (with the exception of the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun or PBS). Less recognized is how her actual performance in Baltimore fails to hold up on closer examination.

Read at the GFBrandenburg blog by a retired Washington, D.C. math teacher: "The Rhee Miracle Examined Again – By Cohort." He took her test score data for her three years of teaching, 1992-1995, in Baltimore under her Teach for America contract, and showed that she has exaggerated her performance in two years of teaching.

As he noted, had the IMPACT program she instituted in Washington, D.C. had been used in her own school, she would have been fired in the first year.
Here I will attempt to follow four different cohorts of students through Harlem Park Elementary, one of the Baltimore City public schools that was taken over by Tesseract/Edison company for several years in the early-to-mid-1990s and failed. Using publicly available data, I graphed the average percentile ranks of groups of students as they went through Harlem Park in first grade, then second grade, then third grade, and so on. If there’s a blank in my graphs, it’s because the data isn’t there.

I highlighted the classes where Michelle Rhee was teaching. In her last year, the scores did rise some, but nowhere near what she claimed. In her first year, they dropped almost as low as they can go. If Tesseract/Edison had been using the IMPACT evaluation system she foisted on DCPS teachers, she would have probably been fired after the first year!
As the Baltimore Sun reported, her claim, "Over a two-year period, moved students scoring on average at the 13th percentile on national standardized tests to 90 percent of students scoring at the 90th percentile or higher," was actually dubious. And Rhee, after being challenged on this, said that she would use the phrase "significant gains" instead of the 90th percentile term. Brandenburg noted, the study (researchers with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Towson University, is stored in an online federal archive) presents "clear evidence of actual, knowing falsehood" by Rhee.

See also the June 30, 2007 Washington Post article, "Council to Challenge Rhee's Résumé." When someone did uncover her files, they indicated that her students' scores increase during the 2nd and 3rd years, but the gains were less than half what Rhee had claimed. (See February 8, 2011 Washington Post article, "Michelle Rhee's early test scores challenged.")

So much for honesty and empathy on Rhee's part.

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