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Defending the Dunce: Sabotaging Education Reform-Leftist Style

Posted on April 20 2011 10:16 pm
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In 2009, 50% or more of all fourth grade students in 10 American cities received “below basic” scores on a federal reading test. But it gets worse – only 18 cities participated in the test.

It takes a great deal of creativity and chutzpah to defend public schools that produce results like these year after year, but the so-called liberal media is giving it a shot.

Apparently adopting the old “best defense is a good offense” technique, the Left is trying to attack everyone who wants to reform the nation’s failed public schools. Lately they have seized on accusations against former pro-reform Washington, DC Superintendent Michelle Rhee as the best way to attack all school reformers, and defend the public school status quo in the process.

Defending a system that has produced horrible results for decades, attacking Rhee is obviously completely ludicrous, but that’s not stopping the Left from making the effort.

Rhee is in the crosshairs after USA Today found troubling irregularities on students’ standardized tests taken during her tenure. According to the newspaper, 103 Washington public schools had higher than average erasure rates on standardized tests. An abnormally high number of the erased answers were changed from wrong answers to correct answers, reported the newspaper, which insinuated that the schools were cheating on the tests, and that Rhee may have been involved.

Since the story first broke last month, many of the usual liberal suspects  – including NPR, the Huffington Post, and Salon – have published articles not so subtly trying to link all education reformers to Rhee’s “scandal.”

The Left has continued to be enthralled by the story recently. In a recent article NPR notes that

Rhee was credited with (a) rapid rise in…test scores. She became a national hero among educational reformers, and now that those test scores are suspect, so is Rhee’s credibility.

The implication of the statement is clear – the educational reformers’ “hero” has probably turned out to be a cheater, so how smart and credible can they be?

Blogging in The Huffington Post on April 14, public schools advocate Sue Peters was more direct. Peters – whose column detailed the fall from grace of Rhee and three other pro-reform school superintendents, wrote:

[Rhee’s] scandal…cuts to the heart of the credibility of (her) national reputation for education reform success.

As a result of the troubles faced by Rhee and her pro-reform colleagues, “it has not been a good month for corporate education reformers…but (it’s been) a potentially great few weeks for public school communities,” Peters added. (By the way, the other three school superintendents were forced to resign for reasons that weren’t directly related to educational issues). Earlier this month, ran a story about Rhee entitled “Michelle Rhee: Education reform huckster.” The subtitle was “The myth that schools are best run like businesses is emphatically demolished.”

By smearing Rhee – who antagonized the public school establishment by taking the radical steps of closing lousy schools and firing bad teachers – the Left clearly hopes to discredit everyone who wants to revamp the thousands of failing schools in our country. Peters and other liberals will apparently use any excuse – no matter how ridiculous – to defend the status quo at government-run schools, which have produced low test scores and high drop-out rates around the country for more than 40 years.

Obviously the Left doesn’t care that every win for the public school status quo produces a horrible loss for tens of thousands of children.


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