It’s the nature of organizations and bureaucracies to close ranks, just as it’s in the DNA of reporters to want more and more information. Add to that mix the factors of self-interest and idealism. When reporters pry, officials withhold, and secrets are leaked, the result can be high drama. But are these supposed ‘secrets’ true, half-true, or false? What are the leaker’s motives–to settle a score, advance his/her own career, or see justice done? It’s up to the reporter to answer those questions before publishing anything. In short, there is an art to leaking and to using leaks in developing a story.
I am done reporting about Michelle Rhee.
Michelle Rhee is known as the woman who, during her tenure as Chancellor of DC’s public schools, took on a corrupt and failing system and shook it up. The rest of the story is rarely mentioned, not even in the press. It should be.
Why is Washington in denial? Fear of Michelle Rhee’s wrath? An unwavering commitment to 2007’s great narrative about the fearless young reformer who “challenged failing schools and incompetent teachers”? I wish I knew the answer.
A great deal has happened since “Michelle Rhee’s Reign of Error” appeared in this space two weeks ago.
With the indictment of former Atlanta School Superintendent Beverly A. Hall and 34 other public school employees in a massive cheating scandal, the time is right to re-examine other situations of possible illegal behavior by educators. Washington, DC, belongs at the top of that list.
What follows is the story of a missing memo, numerous attempts to unearth it using the Freedom of Information Act, confidential sources, apparently lost email, and new questions about Michelle Rhee’s decision not to investigate widespread erasures on an important standardized test during her first year in Washington, DC.