Several weeks ago, on Meet the Press, Michelle Rhee unveiled her new ad, designed to hammer away at how bad she believes American schools to be. The ad likened public schools to an unfit male athlete competing unsuccessfully in a women’s sport, say Carol Burris and Harry Leonadartos, for the Washington Post. Many found the ad to be offensive in its stereotypical portrayal of an overweight and effete man. But the true offense was that it took a moment of national pride, the Olympic Games, and used it to give American educators a kick in the pants. It is reasonable to wonder why it is so important for Michelle Rhee and other “reformers” to constantly deride and disparage American public schools. Although we should always seek to improve, why should those efforts be expected to follow from derision? In truth, while we and others see daunting and unfilled needs in many schools, there has not been a sharp and sudden decline in student performance as is being implied, and in fact scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress — sometimes referred to as the nation’s educational report card — are higher than ever before. The answer is simple. School reform has generated a marketplace, and a profitable one at that…

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staff and wire services reports