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Brokaw Visits Rhee on Route 50 Tour

As a strictly geographic matter, Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's office at 825 North Capitol St. NE is not along Route 50, which enters the District from Maryland via New York Ave., jogs across town to Constitution Ave. and exits to Virginia across the Roosevelt Memorial Bridge.

But she's close enough for a visit from Tom Brokaw, who features her this evening at 7 pm on the USA Network as part of his "American Character Along Highway 50," a series of dispatches about notables along the road that stretches from Ocean City, Md. to Sacramento, Ca.

Rhee, who got into some hot water locally last year for her broom-wielding image on the cover of Time magazine, takes the former NBC anchor into a D.C. school to schmooze with kids and listen to her story. According to a USA press release posted on the TV blog The Futon Critic, Rhee says, "I've always liked children more than I've liked adults."

The statement also says Rhee talks about how she is "transforming her district by closing down dozens of failing schools and firing hundreds of teachers; changing the way schools recruit, select and train qualified teachers in difficult-to-staff schools by fighting for six-figure salaries; and most controversially, by rewarding students with money for good behavior."

"Rhee's tireless efforts to be the voice of underserved students makes her a true American Character," USA says. "147 miles down, 2,926 to go."

Bill Turque

By Bill Turque  |  July 1, 2009; 12:34 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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Wow, we finally have something in common with Rhee! Most of us like our children (students) more than we like her. Who knew?!

Posted by: schooletal | July 1, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Good to know about this, but I don't think I'll have the stomach to watch it.

Why say what kind of people you prefer? Do you have to like kids "more" than adults be be an effective leader of a school district?

and if she really does like kids better - she should just go back to teaching. Her job now is managing adults and it was pretty clear before she made this stupid statement that she doesn't like them at all.

Posted by: efavorite | July 1, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Brokaw is a has been and Rhee is a media hound.

Posted by: rlj611 | July 1, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse


Her comments are a mere reflection of the kind of person she really is. ("Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.") She came to town spewing from her mouth all things impolitic at every turn and showing disdain for the very people (teachers and parents) she was supposed to be partnering with.

The last comment in the article (Rhee's tireless efforts to be the voice of underserved students makes her a true American Character") makes me want to "spew."

Posted by: schooletal | July 1, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Rhee ROCKS. Anybody who thinks the schools were better off before she got here is sick and sad.

Posted by: danielholt | July 1, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I was looking at my DC Comcast tv guide and found NCIS at 7:00 on the USA channel, which is 65. Am I missing something? Anyone know if this program will be on channel 65 or on another one?

Posted by: chelita | July 1, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Just watched and for the record, I'm a DCPS parent.

I started as a Rhee supporter, but I'm not anymore. She has only made things worse for my children and all the children at our school.

It's a shame Brokaw didn't interview my children. One is convinced Rhee is a witch based on the Time magazine cover.

Posted by: Title1SoccerMom | July 1, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Good for Rhee. All the groups that ignored the DC schools' problem for fifty years can't touch her. She is rolling them. This big national media splash keeps her way ahead of the phonies who oppose her.

Posted by: jy151310 | July 1, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

I was wrong about Rhee. I predicted that within six months, she would wake up one morning and say, "What was I THINKING when I took this thankless job?" and be gone.

She's hung in there, and I believe she is trying like heck to produce better educated students in the D.C. school system. This system is so paralyzed by cronyism, unions, and mediocrity that I am not surprised that Rhee draws a lot of negative comments. I think that speaks volumes about her effectiveness.

If someone can point to a previous DC school Czarina who produced better results, please post the name. Everyone knows the DC school system has been a fiasco for many, many years.

Rhee can't be expected to turn the Titanic around in one year, or even two. If she does hang in there, she'll eventually get DC students reading and writing at grade level throughout the city. Think what an accomplishment that will be!!

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | July 1, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

jy151310 - how does making a big media splash help the children?

Curmudgeon10 - Rhee probably DID wake up after 6 months asking "What was I thinking?" but she had to press on to prove herself. Speaking of which - please tell us what results she has produced?

And how is "she" going to get kids reading and writing better? It's as if she's taught you to think in the generalities she speaks in. Quite an accomplishment in mind control, but not in education.

Title1soccermom - suggest you contact Brokaw - seriously -- he needs to hear from parents - not just Rhee or her stooges.

Posted by: efavorite | July 1, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

efavorite, I would love to contact anyone in power directly, but I'm afraid.

I'm so happy with my Title One School. Great programs, great teachers and a great principal. I love this school. My children are getting an outstanding education in (GASP!)a District of Columbia Public School.

I'm afraid to speak up though. I don't want anyone to get fired and Rhee has demonstrated, in a very clear way, how she deals with dissent.

Posted by: Title1SoccerMom | July 1, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

title1soccermom - I'm confused - you sound happy with your kids' school in your last post, but unhappy in the first post.

How has Rhee made things worse?

And if you're afraid of speaking up, just think how the teachers feel? If no one speaks up because of fear, then the reign of terror continues.

Contact turque - on background - you can decide later whether to go public.

Posted by: efavorite | July 1, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Let me try to be clear.

I'm happy with the school, but unhappy with Rhee. The ruling by fear coupled with same old lack of support from 825 makes things hard at the school level.

I feel for the teachers and administrators, but if I speak up, I run the risk that Rhee will target them.

Yes, this hurts children. It's sickening.

Posted by: Title1SoccerMom | July 2, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry but Rheeform hasn't really taken off even after two years. JANEY is the name of a past superintendent who worked tirelessly to not only fix the problems of the school system; but he worked to make the education of all children of the district a priority. She has tried to capitalize on his efforts and is really still riding his wave.

Rhee doesn't rock she needs to kick rocks! It's obvious that such missed reviews really explain her real lack of expertise, knowledge and the balls to get the job done. i said it before and I say it again. Everyone can't be lying and there's always some truth imbedded in all drama. She's created this situation with her I can get it down spirit. i'm tough, i eat bees. She's her biggest cheerleader and Fenty and once he loses the election it will become apparent not only to him and her that she really doesn't cut the mustard. I'm sure that she thinks that she's doing something; but in actuality she's doing nothing but using a slave mentality in order to get people to conform.

Her backwards thinking is disgusting and don't forget she cares. Bull****, someone that has compassion doesn't conduct business in such a heartless manner. I'll admit, I was a big fan of Rhee in the first 2 months because I thought we should give her a chance; but reality says that she can't do it and we gave her a chance. It's really time for her to go! You better recognize!

Posted by: wtf1 | July 2, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Just watched the clip -- she's a boatload of contradictions. Now, she likes children more than adults and when she first got here, teachers were the most important thing.

I do have to say that she's a PR hound and she's able to constantly reinvent herself to come across likeable but there was nothing genuine about her standing in the halls and just saying hi. Not one kid ran up to her, they just walked past her. Now anyone in education knows that a truly likeable character can't make it down the halls without being bombarded by hugs, request and the sorts from children. She's cold and they know it!

Posted by: wtf1 | July 2, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

soccermom - thanks for getting back to me. Sickening, yes. I still suggest that you contact turque and/or talk with other parents/teachers to try to think of a way that you can help the school system without putting good teachers at risk. As long as people like you feel you have no options, the madness continues - and gets worse.

Posted by: efavorite | July 2, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse


Your kids are getting a great education and you are upset? That is ridiculous. Maybe the ruling by fear has made your school better or keeps it in line. You people dont know what you want

Posted by: makplan20002 | July 2, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Title1SoccerMom is a teacher. Parents are not generally aware of a school's title I status.

Posted by: heatherdc1980 | July 2, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Wow, "you people don't know what you want." Gee, smacks of, I don't know, a shall we say elitism? Who exactly do you mean by "you people?"

As for parents not knowing what a school's Title I status is, that's awfully insulting too. Do you think as a parent at a Title I school I lack the literacy skills to read a budget? That I don't care enough to attend PTA or LSRT meeting?

I'm a proud DCPS parent and I would like teachers at my school to get the support they need and deserve from 825.

Posted by: Title1SoccerMom | July 2, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse


I believe you are a parent. However, you have to understand how Rhee supporters work: they turn a blind eye to the statistical FACTS. Therefore, when someone comes along who can actually cite statistical facts that oppose Rhee, they make ignorant and short-sighted comments like, "That person must be a bitter teacher who got fired." Let me cite some statistical FACTS for makplan and heather:

FACT: Under Rhee, school violence has become a serious problem.

FACT: Under Rhee, many DCPS employees with proven track-records of success have lost their jobs not because of their performance, but because of politics.

FACT: Morale in DCPS under Rhee (regarding parents AND employees) is extremely low and possibly the lowest it's ever been.

FACT: I can cite at least three schools where Rhee fired the principal in 2008 and the schools went on to record higher rates of violence among their students in 2009

Care to dispute any of these facts?

Posted by: thebandit | July 2, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Turque,

Why isn't the firing of a principal who was well liked by the parents of her school - parents rated the school 10 out of 10 under her leadership, whose school made 88% proficiency in Reading and 79% on Math in AYP scores (both very respectful scores, news? Instead we are given yet another fluff piece about Ms. Rhee's publicity. It used to be that the post would bury the negative news here and keep the fluff for their print edition. I guess it's fluff only from now on.

Posted by: adcteacher1 | July 4, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

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