Beyond the Revolution

Deforming Education

“Priminent [sic] National Education Reformer Making a Home in Nashville,” announced the headline on Google News.  Just in the nick of time, you might think, but when you read the story on Missouri News Horizon’s website, you will find that the great reformer, one Michelle Rhee, is serving up the usual empty portions of educationese we expect from aspiring reformers.  Inspired by a PBS special, Miss Rhee enlisted in Teach for America, a tax-consuming conspiracy of do-gooders that sends graduates of elite colleges out to enlighten the squalid masses of the ghetto.

Rhee gained fame for her success in turning the Washington, D.C., school system into the paradise of discipline and solid learning commemorated in the film Waiting For Superman.  After viewing the film, the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss referred to Rhee as the “educational Joan of Arc.”  More realistic researchers conclude that her triumph was the usual smoke and mirrors: windy rhetoric backed by phony statistics and dishonest test-taking.  When recently Atlanta’s teachers were discovered to have coached their students on how to cheat on standardized tests, why was anyone surprised?  Students do not want to learn, and if they did, our teachers could not teach them.  Cheating is now the American route to success in high schools and universities.

Rhee says she is concerned with the decline...

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