John Merrow betrays Elizabeth Campbell

John Merrow’s report on the NewsHour could not be more biased if he was Rhee’s hired flack.

MICHELLE RHEE: If we have ineffective teachers in the classroom, the goal is to not have them in the classroom any longer.

JOHN MERROW: Just 12 percent of Washington’s eighth-graders are proficient in reading.

The unstated assumption here is that the lack of proficiency in reading is a reflection on the teachers. Anyone with so much as a nodding acquaintance with the DC school system understands that there is much more to it. Bad teachers could make much more money as bad paralegals in DC’s prosperous influence peddling industry. They are teachers because they want to make a difference. Maybe they are not so bad, maybe there is more to it.

Last year, Principal Nelson Burton of Coolidge High School told us how unhappy he was with his teachers.

L. NELSON BURTON, principal, Coolidge Senior High School: It’s a terrible thing to say, but half of the staff here ought not be. They just don’t fit into what we’re doing here, and I daresay many of them won’t fit into any program where they’re trying to raise student achievement.

OK, what is Burton’s qualifications to make such a statement? Does he have any record of outstanding success?

The principals who were fired, were they fired because they were unwilling to lend themselves to a union busting effort?

JOHN MERROW: Rhee granted Burton’s wish and more. As part of her restructuring effort, she forced all teachers at Coolidge to re-apply for their job. Out of 53, Burton re-hired just 17.

But what’s good for Coolidge isn’t necessarily good for everyone else, because when teachers leave one school, they don’t automatically leave the system.

No, it is known and a collective bargaining agreement and the rule of law. You would think a member of the TV&Radio correspondents union who has his own contract would know better.

You know the phrase “The Dance of the Lemons” and so on…

MICHELLE RHEE: Yes.

JOHN MERROW: … the moving an ineffective teacher…

MICHELLE RHEE: Yes.

JOHN MERROW: … from one school to another.

MICHELLE RHEE: Yes.

JOHN MERROW: Are you doing any of that? If you have teachers that nobody wants…

MICHELLE RHEE: Does that still go on in this district? Yes.

JOHN MERROW: Rhee is staking her success on her ability to change that. So far, she’s been able to push through her reforms because of the backing of Washington’s powerful mayor, Adrian Fenty, who controls the school system.

Has he ever said no to you?

MICHELLE RHEE: No.

JOHN MERROW: Never?

MICHELLE RHEE: Nope.

Maybe it is time for the City Council to say no to Fenty and Rhee.

WETA was founded by Elizabeth Campbell, former chair of the Arlington County School Board. Campbell also took over a dysfunction system. Unlike Rhee she succeeded in transforming it into one of the best school systems in the country, competing with the most elite private schools. She did not do this by burning bridges and targeting teachers and it is disgraceful that Merrow is so unworthy of Campbell’s legacy.

Tell the NewsHour they need to start asking Rhee some basic questions, especially about the court order to protect special needs children. Tell WETA they need to start enforcing quality.

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3 Responses to “John Merrow betrays Elizabeth Campbell”


  1. 1 David Wald September 22, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    “You would think a member of the TV&Radio correspondents union who has his own contract would know better.”

    FYI, as Mr. Merrow’s production supervisor, I can tell you that he is not a member of any union. We are a non-profit company, funded solely through donations. We operate without any union, contract, or other protections. Our funding is based solely on the quality of our work. We constantly, and diligently, strive to prove ourselves worthy of the funding we receive with reports that are as honest and unbiased as possible.

    If anyone feels we have misrepresented the story and has information to back up their claim, please feel free to email us at our website: http://www.merrow.org, and we will follow-up.

  2. 2 dcblogger September 22, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    The NewsHour is a non-union shop? Well, that would explain a lot. Thank you for reading and commenting, I am surprised that you would have graced so low ranking a blog.

    The quality of the NewsHours’ work appears to consist or rewriting press releases from the American Enterprise Institute. Michelle Rhee and education deform is just the latest. I will simply repeat what I put in my post, Merrow made no mention of Rhee’s violation of the consent decress concerning the education of special needs students. The violation of a court order is news. Elizabeth Campbell took court orders very very seriously.

    Rhee’s school closings have made over crowding much much worse. The principals she fired were highly rated, as were the teachers.

    Anyone watching that report would have a feeling of a brave reforming coping with a bunch of bad teachers, the truth is that we have a very disruptive egotistical union buster sacrificing children to her intellectual vanity and a PBS station indifferent to the fate of the children in its community.

    WETA is no longer Elizabeth Campbell’s station.


  1. 1 How blogging makes a difference « D2 route Trackback on June 2, 2009 at 6:36 am

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