“Thank you for showing the world that Michelle Rhee is a fraud.” The woman who said that to me at a banquet at the Harvard Club last week is known to serious education wonks. “I have been sending your exposé to governors and legislators all over the country,” she added. “In fact, Governor (name withheld by me) told me he was grateful for your one-man crusade against Rhee because she is hurting the teaching profession.”
This was a crowded and noisy social event, and so I could correct only one part of her statement, the ‘one-man crusade’ mistake. I reminded her that the critical piece of reporting, “Michelle Rhee’s Reign of Error,” is the work of FIVE veteran journalists with more than 175 years of reporting experience.
Linda Mathews is a Harvard-trained lawyer who led the investigative team at USA Today that uncovered the erasure scandal in 2010.
Jack Gillum, one of three reporters on that remarkable USA Today story, is now an investigative reporter for the Associated Press.
Jay Mathews is the distinguished reporter and columnist for the Washington Post whose “Class Struggle” column is must reading for those interested in education.
Michael Joseloff, a producer for ABC, CBS, PBS and the NewsHour, has received four Emmy Awards for his work.
The five of us have written eight books and have received two George Foster Peabody Awards, four Emmy Awards, the George Polk Award, the Grantham Prize, two Benjamin Fine Awards, five Ciné Golden Eagles, an American Bar Association Silver Gavel and the McGraw Prize.
Had we not been in a crowd, I would also have said that fraud was her word, not ours. We documented how Michelle Rhee looked the other way when presented with pretty strong evidence that adults, not students, were responsible for the suspicious erasures. We don’t know why she failed that leadership test, only that she clearly did. Perhaps, as Jack Nicholson thundered in “A Few Good Men,” she couldn’t “handle the truth.” Perhaps she was putting her own career ahead of the interests of children. Does that make her a fraud? That’s your call, not ours.
In a less crowded and rushed atmosphere, I would also have disputed the use of the word ‘crusade.’ Linda, Jack, Jay, Michael and I are interested in the truth, but that doesn’t make us ‘crusaders.’
Finally, I would have told her that the full story still has not been told. For months now the DC schools have been dragging their feet on my Freedom of Information request for email correspondence related to Sandy Sanford, the author of that secret memo. “Soon,” they keep saying. What are they hiding?
Meanwhile, down in Atlanta, the criminal justice system is preparing to try Beverly Hall and others for their alleged roles in the cheating scandal in that city.