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SUBSCRIPT: Delightful website takes on most of the bigger lies of Michelle Rhee and her supporters

A delightful website about Michelle Rhee and her supporters — Rhee First — takes on most of the lies that have been told by and about Michelle Rhee since she began her union-busting and teacher bashing career as Chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools five years ago. As the evidence grows that almost all of the corporate propaganda for the corporate "school reform" agenda is based on lies, more and more serious people are taking on the myths, the mythmakers, and those — like Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, and Joel Klein — who have been profiting from the myths. The URL, for those who need it, is: http://www.rheefirst.com/.

Former Washington, D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee has been under scrutiny since a major USA Today investigation showed widespread cheating to raise test scores during her time supposedly working miracles in the nation's capitol. Although the report showed that pressure from Rhee's administration to raise scores no matter what (and the threat of principal and teacher firings for those who "failed"), Rhee and her corporate supporters have continued to push the "Rhee miracle" claims to further the agenda of corporate school reform.Although it would be impossible to list all of the items on the website worth stopping at, my favorite is the section where Rhee's ever increasing nonsense about her own "teaching" career is debunked. At one point, Rhee claimed that in one year as a novice classroom teacher (a Teach for America teacher), she "raised" her students' test scores from the 13th to the 90th percentiles. While such nonsense has been common in Chicago (we first heard it during the "Intervention" fiasco in 2000, when Catalyst magazine trumpeted the claim that JoAnn Roberts, the "Intervention" chieftan in that year, was going to get schools like Orr and Collins high schools to "raise" their TAP scores from (roughly) the tenth percentile to the 75th. Catalyst reported that nonsense with a straight face, which only demonstrated that the Catalyst reporters understood the underlying math no better than Roberts herself. The claim, which was proclaimed on banners in the halls of schools like Collins, was quickly discarded after "Intervention" failed.

The corporate school reformers like Michelle Rhee rely on a kind of Great Leap Forward logic, reminiscent of the worst days of silly Stalinism, which proclaimed that "changing the culture" and a different set of beliefs was all it would take to overcome the often gruesome impact of extreme class-based poverty on many inner city children who attend America's public schools. Whether your choice of nonsensical historical markers is the Great Leap Forward (in which millions starved in China) or the equally crazed French philosophical notion of "Elan Vitale" (which resulted in huge French infantry and cavalry losses during the First World War) the ability of many ruling classes throughout history to brainwash themselves and many citizens (through the media they control) has a historical continuity that may be frightening.

But with the addition of websites like this one (now a few months old) compiling every idiocy brought to the public by Michelle Rhee, our side has a growing arsenal of reality based material to use in the debate with these people.



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