Loose Lips

IG Looks Bad on Frontline

Question: who looks like the bad guy in Frontline's look at former Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee's tenure in D.C., which is set to air tomorrow?

Pick one:

A) Teachers' unions, for putting the interests of adults above those of students?

B) Mayor Vince Gray, for putting politics before principles?

C) Rhee, for creating chaos for its own sake?

D) District Inspector General Charles Willoughby, whose office investigated possible test-score cheating at Noyes Education Campus without bothering to interview a principal who says she once walked in on staff members sitting around open test books with an eraser?

If you picked D (or picked another answer but your teacher changed your answer to D anyway), you're probably correct. LL hasn't seen the Frontline piece yet, but the Post got an early look and reports that it ain't pretty where the IG's investigative prowess is concerned. Former principal Adell Cothorne tells Frontline, per the Post, that "just after students took a midyear practice version of the city’s annual standardized test, she stumbled upon three staff members sitting late at night in a room strewn with more than 200 test booklets. One of the adults was at a desk, holding an eraser. The other two sat at a table, booklets open before them."

Cothorne says she tightened security around test booklets after that episode, and that that year's standardized test results showed a 25 percent drop in scores from the year before.

Yet Cothorne, who left Noyes after a year to go sell cupcakes, says she was never interviewed by the IG's 17-month long investigation.

How can this be? Willoughby didn't talk to Frontline and LL hasn't been able to get him on the phone for comment. When LL and others noted shortcomings with the IG's investigation when it came out in August last year, Willoughby's office said the IG's investigative report spoke for itself.

But Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, who recently took over as chairman of the D.C. Council committee that oversees the IG's office, says that answer won't do. McDuffie says that if what Cothorne says is true, it would be a "glaring" omission on the IG's part.

"It really raises some serious concerns about the adequacy" of the investigation, McDuffie says. He adds that he's sending a letter to Willoughby shortly requesting details about the test-score investigation.

Willoughby's work has long been the subject of critism of some councilmembers, who say the IG moves too slowly and is absent on the big issues of the day.

Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh says she'd like "like to see a new person in that spot" when Willoughby's term expires next year.

"We need somebody who is timely, thorough and really brings zeal to the effort, because that's the whole the point of the inspecter general," Cheh says.

Update: Here's McDuffie's letter to Willoughby. The councilmember also expresses concern with the speed of some of the IG's investigations.

Comments

  1. #1

    "B) Mayor Vince Gray, for putting politics before principles?"

    How so Alan?

    Last I checked he is continuing ed reform, getting praises from many organizations and experts. But you wouldn't report anything like that would you?

    This is not real news at all.

  2. #2

    Way to go McDuffie lets get some real answers and a real investigation. These bs bamas in these cozy positions with their six figure salaries need to do REAL work. That report Mr. Willoughby is piss poor on every level!! Do it again or resign your position. It took you 17 months and that is all you came up with, Mr. Willoughby you should be FIRED!!

    Bamas, jokers and clowns, DC government at its best. But DC natives are mad that the "progressives" are taking over but you got bamas like this guy running half-A$$ investigations.

  3. #3

    Inspector General Charles Willoughby is a holdover from the Fenty Administration. He is used to being a "yes" man. We need an IG with a pair of brass ones and the independence to stand up against all waste, fraud and abuse. Even if from the executive level.

  4. #4

    LEAVE IT TO THE COWBAMMAS LOVER HACKOLOGIST TO MAKE THE STORY ABOUT THE INVESTIGATOR INSTEAD OF THE PERPETRATOR MICHELLE RHEE!

  5. #5

    I'm confused - why would teachers be changing the answers on a "midyear practice version" of a citywide test?

  6. New Resident of DC
    #6

    Where is our dear dingbat Drez? We would love to hear the stupidity he has to say in this regard---as I am sure that he will defend Rhee to the end.

  7. #7

    Rhee's response at WaPo:
    http://m.washingtonpost.com/local
    At the end of the day, this whole story centers around the unsupported allegations of cheating from one person.
    Reforms continue. The union is still shitty. And we still have a mayor who the union dumped tons of cash into electing who is himself the target of at least one major federal investigation.
    Suck it, haters.

  8. #8

    DAMN DREZ YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO CHEAT?

    HERE LET OL' noodlez HELP YOU OUT.
    YOU CAN'T HAVE PRACTICE EXAMS SHOWING NO SIGNIFICANT GAINS THEN TURN AROUND AND HAVE THE REAL EXAMS SHOWING GENIUSES AT WORK. ITS CALLED PROGRESSION!

    THE REASON THE STORY IS UNDER REPORTED AND UNSUPPORTED BECAUSE IT WAS SUPPRESSED BY THOSE INVOLVED. WHAT TEACHER IN THEIR RIGHT MIND IS GOING TO RAISE THEIR HAND AND SAY "I CHANGED ANSWERS." AND EITHER RUIN OR TARNISH THEIR CAREER?

    SLIM ONE PERSON MAKING CLAIMS OF CHEATING IS ONE PERSON TOO MANY. WHY WOULD SOMEONE LIE ABOUT SOMETHING LIKE THAT? WHAT EARTHLY REASON WOULD AN ADMINISTRATOR HAVE IN BROADCASTING SOMETHING OF THIS MAGNITUDE? YOU ARE NOT MAKING ANY SENSE IN DEFENDING YOUR GIRL.

    THEN YOUR COMMENT SHOWS JUST HOW OUT OF TOUCH FOLK ARE. YOU ARE TRYING TO DIVERT BLAME AND ATTENTION AWAY BY DISPARAGING EVERYTHING AND EVERYBODY ELSE EXCEPT THE PERSON WHO WAS SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR SAID ACTIVITY. MICHELLE RHEE.

    HERE IS A BIT OF ADVICE DOWNTOWN RESIDENT:MY 1ST GRADE TEACHER 40 YEARS AGO AT WALKER-JONES ELEM SCHOOL TAUGHT ME WHEN YOU POINT YOUR FINGER AT SOMEONE 3 ARE POINTING BACK AT YOU. THIS WAS SOMETHING I LEARNED AND A STANDARDIZED TEST WAS NOT ADMINISTERED FOR ME TO LEARN THIS. MICHELLE RHEE FUCKED UP BY TAKING TEACHING AWAY FROM TEACHERS AND SHE KNOWS IT. TRUST ME THE TRUTH WILL COME OUT IN DUE TIME.

  9. #9

    noodlez
    Thanks for the lesson on cheating.
    Interesting how the one person who's on record as making allegations is also suing the Feds for damages. I guess the cupcake business isn't all it's cracked up to be.

  10. #10

    @dizzy
    The reason for teachers changing mid-year practice test scores is that if end-of-year tests show too much improvement then they would lack credibility. At least this is the explanation provided by others.

  11. #11

    Thanks, Charlie. That makes sense, although it kind of stretches the meaning of "practice" if the results are reported, stored, and cross-referenced.

  12. New Resident of DC
    #12

    Drez, Drez, misguided and misinformed Drez.

    You state the reforms continue. You have lost your mind. DCPS is in a crisis----not reforms. DCPS is on its way out.

  13. New Resident of DC
    #13

    Oh and Drez,

    Shut up!

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