Ethics-Challenged Michelle Rhee Gives Lecture On Ethics

Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Rhee are ethics-challenged. For evidence, simply look back to Rhee's cheating scandal in Washington, DC, or Mr. Rhee's (aka Kevin Johnson's) poorly-managed charter school where nearly one million dollars found its way out of public

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Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Rhee are ethics-challenged. For evidence, simply look back to Rhee's cheating scandal in Washington, DC, or Mr. Rhee's (aka Kevin Johnson's) poorly-managed charter school where nearly one million dollars found its way out of public coffers into places it shouldn't have gone. And then there's Rhee's right-wing associations, which she carefully nurtures while claiming to be doing what's "best for the children."

Yet they soldier on, courting as much corporate money as possible in the name of "the children." Once in awhile, they even get a chance to give lectures in Hawaii. I wonder if it was an all-expense paid trip, or they did it out of the goodness of their hearts.

Diane Ravitch has the whole story, but I found their victimhood mantles particularly galling:

The moderator, Will Weinstein, who created the “ethics” series of which this presentation was a part, fawned over Rhee and Johnson all night long. His sarcasm was apparent whenever he asked a “tough” question of the couple. They obviously charmed him and the audience, made up seemingly of law and business students and faculty. This was apparent, when, after about an hour of their promoting union busting, attacks on collective bargaining, and their marveling and wonder at why Republican politicians seem so much more supportive and knowledgeable about their progressive school reforms, Weinstein jokingly asked them why they were “such right-wing conservatives” eliciting a ripple of knowing chuckles throughout the audience. They responded that they had been given a bum rap, with Michelle playing the victim of political Democrats who were in bed with unions.

Yawn. This was an ethics lecture, right? The ethical answer for Rhee to have given would have included her obvious sympathy with ALEC-related education measures, her desire to build StudentsFirst's coffers with right-wing money from the Murdochs and DeVos' of the world, and her clear alignment with right-wing idealogues to destroy teachers' unions and public education. That would have been ethical. Instead she played the "poor me" card.

This was a major theme of the evening, the obstruction that unions present to meaningful reform. Johnson gave a powerful telling of his work to convert Sacramento High from a public school a charter. He stated that the unions stepped in to oppose this, spending vast sums of money to fight against it. No context was given as to why, leaving the audience to assume it was because they opposed poor and minority children receiving a quality education. The flip side of the demonization of unions throughout the night was the way in which the actual results of Rhee’s programs were blatantly whitewashed, or barely addressed. No mention of a D.C. test cheating scandal, of the lackluster performances of charter schools, of the billionaires that back up Rhee’s attacks on teacher unions, of the lack of effective teacher training for TFA graduates (who are assumed to be better than the “bad” experienced public school teachers), and no mention of the corporate funding of the anti-union films they were promoting.

Rhee also promoted the corporate model of merit pay for the “best” (according to flawed assessment models) teachers, and punishment for the bottom-performing percentile. This corporate model known as “stack ranking” or “rank and yank” is a perfect example of how Rhee sees schools as indistinguishable from businesses. She and her husband both portrayed themselves as progressive liberals stating that charter schools needed to be heavily regulated and that failing charters needed to be closed. This qualification was obviously too little too late to establish any semblance of “balance” in their ideology.

For all their talk of accountability, no one thought to ask them who holds them accountable to prove their claims of miracles, turn-arounds, or the selfish agenda of kid hating unions whose one desire is lifetime tenure. If anyone wrote that question for them, it was not asked.

Yes, well, the questions were pre-screened.

Rhee and her buddies at Fox News do a terrific job of demonizing teachers and teachers' unions. They like to spend a lot of time making the unions out to be bogeymen with greedy, thuggish agendas. Of course, anyone who has actually spent time with union members understand that unions are the only united populist voice with the strength to stand and speak for people. If Michelle Rhee is so disturbed at being painted as right-wing, I'd suggest perhaps she take a hard look in the mirror and figure out who she's speaking for.

It's not the children.

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