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Michelle Rhee walks back her “enemies” comments

Someone identifying herself as former DC schools boss Michelle Rhee called Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews to describe as “stupid” her response to the USA Today report on improbably high numbers of wrong-answer erasures and corrections on standardized tests during her tenure.

This seems very unlike Rhee and the education “reform” crowd, who often rely on smearing anyone who questions results they claim to have achieved in classrooms, schools and districts. Saying that “enemies of education reform” had to be behind the erasures scandal story — that sounded like the Michelle Rhee we know and … disagree with.

According to Mathews,

She said that she thinks cheating might have occurred in the District and that she is glad her successor, Acting Chancellor Kaya Henderson, ordered a new investigation. Rhee said she still believes that the vast majority of teachers and administrators would never falsify test results, but that there can be exceptions. She said we should improve test security procedures so such abuses could not recur.

Mathews allows that people as prominent as Rhee “almost never” walk back their own statements, and he praises her for doing it. “She would not comment on …what exactly led her to make the Monday statements, which I think were thoughtless, insulting and, as she said, stupid,” he writes.

I wonder what Rhee’s supporters/defenders have to say now — will they stand behind a statement she has repudiated?

Bill Sez: Credit where credit is due, I guess. Let’s wait to see if the DC schools’ inspector general really digs in to “find out what caused so many answers to be so mysteriously changed from wrong to right.” [Emphasis added.] And let’s not forget Campbell’s Law, the likelihood that incentives corrupt rather than encourage good teaching/learning or any other social endeavor.

Also worth noting: the USA Today series on education and testing was conceived and edited by Jay Mathews’ wife, a fact he discloses in the Post story.

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