Wednesday, January 09, 2013

"The Education of Michelle Rhee" on PBS Frontline

On Tuesday, January 8, 2013, PBS Frontline aired a documentary “The Education of Michelle Rhee”.

Michelle Rhee was appointed chancellor of the District of Columbia public school system by mayor Fenty in 2007.

She became notorious for dismissing school principals and teachers who failed to meet new performance standards, measured in large part by student test scores.  She also closed some underperforming elementary schools.

The documentary shows a lot of live footage, as when she introduces herself as 37 years old and Korean.
The film shows a scene where she fires a principal.  “I am terminating your principalship”.

She met with all school administrators when she took over and warned them that some would not be around if they did not improve student performance.

Some staff would complain that they had no control over the violent conditions in which some kids grew up.
There was a scandal as to whether there were statistically too many erasures on the Scanlon test forms, and one staff member caught other teachers at one school changing tests to cheat. Although official audits found no cheating, the undercover story reduces the credibility to her claim that she increased scores by 10% in her first year.

The Huffington Post as a story about the twitter reaction to the film here

The PBS Frontline link is here

The film makes a lot of her personality.  Rhee’s mother had said that Michelle didn’t care what other people thought of her.  She was called “The Bee Eater” based on an incident in her student teaching (she really swallowed a bee that she had swatted in a classroom).

I sometime think that if she weren’t 14 years older than Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, they might have made a perfect couple.  They strike me as a lot alike.
Here byline was “I am going to start a revolution”.  But not like on NBC; the power needs to stay on. 

See the "films about schools" label on my Movies blog for comparative reviews of films like "Waiting for Superman" (Oct., 2010), in which Michelle Rhee appears:  "Race to Nowhere";  "American Teacher", and "The Lottery".  

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