School Privatization Fraud: Michelle Rhee May Yet Join Beverly Hall in the Dock

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Michelle Rhee may yet pay for her the damage she has inflicted on society and its children.” The former DC schools superintendent and privatization poster girl has been exposed to charges of fraud, along with her sister in crime, former Atlanta superintendent Beverly Hall. The real criminal enterprise is codified in No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, headed up by the Bush and Obama gangs.

School Privatization Fraud: Michelle Rhee May Yet Join Beverly Hall in the Dock

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Rhee hid money that the school system actually had on hand, to claim that teachers had to be fired en masse.”

Michelle Rhee, the former Washington, DC, schools chief and poster woman for public school privatization, richly deserves to join former Atlanta schools superintendent Beverly Hall, who was recently indicted for her role in that city’s massive cheating scandal. Michelle Rhee may yet pay for the damage she has inflicted on society and its children, whom she has harmed even more grievously than her comrade in crime in Georgia. But first, the case of Beverly Hall.

Hall was a high-rolling player in the nationwide criminal enterprise to destroy public education and replace it with a privately managed, but publicly financed, system. She wound up being hoisted on her own petard, her career wrecked by the same high stakes testing regime that she supported to the hilt, and on whose altar she had sacrificed – fired – 90 school principals and countless rank and file teachers. Hall was caught in the minefield of No Child Left Behind and President Obama’s Race to the Top, trapped in a web of deceit.

A key purpose of high stakes testing is to “prove” that conventional public schools are inferior to the charter model, and that incompetent or uncaring teachers and their unions are the heart of the problem. The testing regimen is designed to fail large numbers of schools, so that they can be replaced with charter operations. Beverly Hall carried out a reign of terror in her overwhelmingly Black Atlanta district. Every public school teacher understood the rules: if your students get a low score, you are out the door. In return for torturing her teachers, superintendent Hall was awarded accolades and goo-gobs of bonus money and lucrative speaking engagements. She was a kingpin of the privatization gang, not too many notches below Michelle Rhee.

Hall had to rely on the lowly, terrified teachers to work her scam.”

But Beverly Hall was trapped in a contradiction. In order to fulfill her commitment to the corporate charter school mob, she had to use her powers as superintendent to disrupt the educational process and make teaching a living hell. However, if she was to further her personal reputation as a school administrator, Hall needed the students in her district to register ever higher scores on the tests. She had to prove, by the numbers, that Race to the Top worked – when clearly it does not – or wind up in the same trash heap into which she was so eagerly throwing her teachers. Since the students could not facilitate her crime by actually achieving the impossible scores, Beverly Hall had to rely on the lowly, terrified teachers to work her scam. Thus, she became the Superintendent of Cheating, and is now free on $200,000 bail.

Michelle Rhee was even more criminally ambitious, during her tenure as Chancellor of DC’s public schools. It turns out that Rhee hid money that the school system actually had on hand, to claim that teachers had to be fired en masse, for budgetary reasons. After the massacre of teachers was over, Rhee magically found the money she had hidden, and hired a whole new crop of younger, whiter, non-union-friendly teachers.

One of those caught in the Michelle Rhee massacre was Willie Brewer, a 53-year-old music teacher who sued. A federal judge has allowed his case to proceed in court, and Brewer is now amending it to include charges of concealment and fraud, that could conceivably wind up putting Michelle Rhee in prison.

Let the perp-walk begin.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].

 
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