Oh, Rhee-ly?


A friend of mine has been catching me up on Michelle Rhee, who has been appearing with some of our favorite right wing, tea party-supporting governors. Turns out that in Tennessee, she had them pass the legislation she wanted, which has stripped Tennessee teachers of their collective bargaining rights. She likes to pretend that she's a moderate, but, well, her record and the information in this post, prove otherwise.

So yes, she played a role in passing an anti-union bill and even co-authored an op-ed with Former Republican Senate Leader Bill Frist. Rhee’s ex-husband, to whom she is close, was recently appointed by the governor as the state commissioner of education.  The word "sleazy" comes to mind.

Sidebar, a personal word: More and more schools are being privatized because public schools are going down the tubes due to lack of funds, bad management, you name it. I know this for a fact, because I was laid off over a year ago after well over a decade of employment at at least three public schools. People like Michelle Rhee would be thrilled, although the unionized teachers I worked with sure weren't.

And then, private money often comes to the rescue, buying supplies, books, etc. and eventually, guess who ends up with all the influence? (H/t: KagroX for the link)

But back to Rhee. My friend was kind enough to send me a series of links. I'll share a few with you, so we can take a closer look at her record.

Michelle Rhee's claim to fame was her tenure as a DC School Chancellor under Democratic Mayor Adrien Fenty, but again, she's a right winger. She resigned as Chancellor and hopped around the country appearing with Republican governors, advocating for anti-union policies. She has also been nominated for right wing awards and is involved with local scandals. Ready?

Wisconsin – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's union bashing budget cut state worker pay, eliminated collective bargaining rights for public employees, and other "I hate unions" items. So what's a Rhee to do? Why, appear on ClusterFox rah-rahing Walkers plan to limit bargaining rights for teachers. (See video at the top of the post) Ain't she swell?  She also appeared on a local news channel (video).

Ohio – GOP Governor John Kasich pushed through SB 5, which severely limits collective bargaining rights for public employees, including teachers. Starting to sound familiar? Rhee’s organization, Student’s First, lobbied on behalf of the bill. She also appeared with Kasich for a screening of the debunked “documentary” Waiting for Superman.

Florida – Florida's splendid piece of... work, aka Rick Scott, and his union-busting policies have made him the least popular governor in all the land.  He appointed Michelle Rhee-- wait for it-- an advisor for education policy. Oh, it gets worse. She's also teamed up with Jeb Bush on education issues. Yes, that Jeb Bush.

New Jersey – Let's not forget about Chris Christie, who admittedly is awfully hard to ignore. Talk about the elephant in the room. He approached Rhee after she quit as DC School Chancellor. She likes Christie's budget cutting policies, and said as much on, you guessed it, ClusterFox. Surprise!

Indiana – GOP Governor Mitch Daniels palled around with Rhee to support a school voucher bill. What?! And that little rally moment coincided with a cheating scandal in DC. Timing is everything.

Nevada – GOP Governor Brian Sandoval met up with Rhee recently, and guess what? She supports his education policies, too! Rhee:

"I feel very, very strongly that on the policy side the governor is absolutely pushing the right (education) agenda and the right set of policies that have the ability to create the right foundation and to put the state on a different trajectory moving forward."

But wait! There's more!

Right Wing Awards – Rhee has been nominated for right wing awards, like, say, at the Sam Adams Alliance, for her partisan, anti-unionitude. The two other nominees were Scott Walker and anti-gay Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. This is the same Ken Cuccinelli who "came under fire for encouraging Virginia universities to rescind their anti-gay discrimination policies, a move that several groups have condemned as rooted in homophobia and bigotry."

The right wing American Federation for Children hosted a policy summit in DC, where they gave awards to Rhee, Scott Walker and Pennsylvania GOP Governor Tom Corbett.  AFC is a Koch and Devos funded organization who just adore school vouchers.

So there you have it. An overview of someone who is in dire need of Rhee-hab.

  • madmom

    Our leaders - state, national, democrat and republican -  are undermining and slowly dismantling functioning  public education.  Rhee is the intentional  by-product of money interests governed by the motive of profit  funneled into a human system initially designed to serve a very vulnerable and all encompassing  human system.   NCLB, Rhee,Duncan,  Bush, Congress, state legislatures - all demand narrow accountability in return for funding without conscience or compassion.  These interests  are driving our children into distress and cheating them of a broadranging education that produces a mind capable of critical thinking coupled with creative solutions.  Testing has supplanted teaching.  Our children are treated like animals in a pen - denied bathroom visits even during testing preparation.  Rhee, Duncan, Bush and their counterparts demand accountability from 8 year olds while negating and denying the consequences of their actions on OUR children.  If this nation expects to compete in the future, we need to first reprioritize the actual human beings  in the classroom before we answer to arbitrary demands from secondary parties who have no concern for the wellbeing of the  student.  We have put the cart before the horse and now wonder why the system  is not functioning.   It is a hypocrital matter of do as I say, not as I do - very few if any of the children of the "reformers" are sitting in public classrooms.  No Baby Bushes, No Obama Daughters, No Rhee Offspring, No Duncan Kids - only the great unwashed masses who live the reality but are left voiceless.

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  • I remember reading a cover article on Rhee in TIME shortly before President Obama's inauguration {or around that time}; the gist I got was that she really did little about the DC public schools other than close down underperforming ones and fire teachers.

    As to her masquerading as a moderate, I believe I read where Obama was considering her for the Education Secretary post; she declined.  With all these right wing awards she's getting, it looks like we dodged a bullet . . .

  • Pat Tibbs

    Thanks for posting this. I signed up for a monthly cash commitment when Students First was established. As a result of this piece I have requested that they cancel that commitment.

  • Anonymous

    Gr8 post! I will most def save this link. You may rheally enjoy this post: http://traceydouglas.blogspot.com/2011/04/michelle-rhee-glossarhee-2nd-edition.html