Howard Maffucci has his own blog now. Interesting. http://commonsenseny.blogspot.com/2010/12/michele-rhee-she-lies-kind-of-heres-why.html Michelle Rhee is back in the news. The former chancellor of the Washington, D.C. school system is the leader of the new organization called Students First. As a former superintendent of schools, it’s difficult for me to criticize a colleague, but I often wonder why Ms. Rhee is so wrong about education, disingenuous about the problems facing schools, and just plain hostile to public education. Here’s why. It’s her background. Her limited teaching and the absence of any building level administrative experience prevents her from understanding teaching and learning. She doesn’t have enough experience as a practicing educator to develop high level instructional and administration understandings to help improve student achievement. Ms. Rhee taught school for just three years as a Teach for America recruit. Teach for America isn’t necessarily a bad program but participants generally lack sufficient classroom experience to understand how to teach before they begin teaching. By the time Ms. Rhee developed better instructional skills, she had left the program. That happens in many cases for Teach for America teachers as the program requires just a two-year commitment. Not only does Ms. Rhee lack teaching experience, she has no building level experience as an assistant principal or principal. She was able to developed important school administrative competencies while “on-the-job.” The most effective school administrators possess superior technical, management and human relations skills. Ms. Rhee never had relevant experiences to acquire those skills. She’s a victim of her own ideology instead of “boots-on-the-ground” experience as a professional educator. She suffers from the “I know better than anyone else because I know I do” mentality” instead of having superior technical and management skills in a school setting. That attitude did not serve her very well as a school leader. Ms. Rhee was doomed to fail because of her inability to relate to people, in a people business. This problem compounded her lack of significant, successful experience at various levels as an educator. In a recent Newsweek article, she acknowledged her lack of human relations skills. She said she didn’t do a good job reassuring teachers who were effective or communicate with parents effectively. That’s not surprising. People similar to Ms. Rhee typically look down on subordinates and really have no interest other interested parties think such as parents. As for her new organization and its website, she still doesn’t get it. After reviewing parts of the website, its apparent all she is capable of doing is providing misleading information to try to discredit American public education. Just under the mission statement, the website states - “America's schools are failing our kids. On this point, the data is clear.” It’s the big lie. America has some of the best schools in the world. It gets worse. She uses the same tired information about comparative achievement levels to create the illusion of crappy schools. Her site does not indicate the strengths and many weaknesses of the national or international assessments used to compare achievement levels such as NAEP and PISA. Her organization isn’t telling the WHOLE Truth. That's unfortunate. Serious problems face children in urban and rural areas. Many have nothing to do with school. The problems must be addressed fairly with keen attention on the causes of the dysfunction in those settings. Blaming schools is unfair and dishonest. Doing that with horrendous human relations skills does a disservice to everyone. That’s common sense.