Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Rhee Did All She Could To Resist An Investigation Of DCPS Cheating Allegations (UPDATED)

Emily Richmond asks Frontline's John Merrow whether tonight's episode on Michelle Rhee will change perceptions about Rhee.

Merrow responds:

I don’t think people know how strongly she resisted the investigation of the erasures. That might give some people pause. In Atlanta, the lead investigator told me that they considered three or more standard deviations from the norm to be a strong indication that cheating took place. In the district, there were classrooms that were five, six, seven deviations from the norm. That’s staggering. This is of course the evidence that was presented to Michelle Rhee.


 She’s an absolutely fascinating person. She’s charismatic, smart and hardworking. She said to me early on, “I’m going to wear you out.” And she did. I think even if I had been her age she would have worn me out. She wore us out in another way when she became so elusive and didn’t want to answer any questions, particularly about the test-scores scandal. Obviously, this is Michelle Rhee’s story. But in some ways, the hero is the principal you meet at the end who told us about reporting witnessing evidence of cheating.

Richmond asks the following:

 You’re talking about Adell Cothorne, former principal of the Noyes Education Campus, one of the schools USA Today focused on in its investigation into D.C.’s test scores amid evidence that large numbers of wrong answers were erased and replaced with the correct ones. Are her revelations the big surprise here?
 Merrow responds:

What was surprising was that no one in power wanted to know what Adell had to say. She turned down interview requests from USA Today and from the Washington Post. She spoke to us with an attorney present. She was willing to speak to us about what she saw, what she reported to the central office, and what was not investigated when she reported it. Going on the record about Michelle Rhee is a little bit like an adult riding a bicycle with no hands. You can see the downside to it. What’s the upside? Adell is a hero, in my view.

It is clear from both the allegations made in the USA Today story and now the allegations made by Adell Cothorne in the Frontline piece that both Rhee and her then deputy, Kaya Henderson, did everything they could to minimize an investigation of the cheating allegations.

Rhee was informed of the cheating allegations and did nothing to investigate them.

We don't exactly have evidence of a cover-up of cheating by Rhee or Henderson yet, but we do have evidence that they knew of very serious allegations about cheating at Noyes and elsewhere and did nothing about those allegations.

It is clear even now that Henderson and DCPS officials are continuing to thwart a real investigation of those allegations and of course Rhee wont respond to any questions about the cheating at all.

Oprah called Rhee a "warrior woman" when she had her on her show for the "Waiting for Superman" documentary.

A true "warrior woman" would own up to any problems in the system, take responsibility for the cheating and acknowledge the failings that occurred under her leadership.

Rhee refuses to do any of that.

She is too busy handing out state school report cards based on a right wing privatization agenda.

And except for USA Today and now Frontline, the mainstream media seems to let her get away with this.

Every time she shows up to hawk something, she needs to be asked about these allegations.

She needs to say what she did about the cheating allegations and tell us exactly how she handled things.

There is more and more evidence to show that at best, she did everything she could to resist and kill an independent investigation of the allegations.

If anybody independent of Rhee, Henderson, the Gates Foundation and the USDOE got to investigate this mess, I bet they would find a lot more evidence of that - and maybe even a cover-up of the mess by Rhee herself.

UPDATE: Great piece by Salon's Alex Pareene entitled  "Michelle Rhee To Actually Be Held Accountable By Press For Once" that really shows how Rhee, like Joel Klein, has managed to skate by in the mainstream media without any scrutiny of her claims, record or policies.

Check it out.


  1. John Merrow is a twerp. His mild criticism of Rhee is negated by his absolutely stupid assertion that the mess of the New Orleans Recovery District is somehow a "success" story:

    1. Totally agree. He once wrote an op ed attacking teachers and unions.