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Michelle Rhee, Bill Gates to appear together on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show'


Michelle Rhee will get a chance to spread her education reform gospel to an even wider audience: Rhee this week taped an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," which kicks off its 25th and final season Monday. Joining her was Bill Gates, the very rich man who has made education reform a cornerstone of his philanthropy.

Rhee has appeared on the cover of Time magazine and in countless national publications. But the widely syndicated Oprah show, with its millions of devoted viewers, stands to expose Rhee to a national audience well beyond the edu-intellectual crowd that's already been made quite aware of her efforts.

The show will highlight the documentary "Waiting for Superman," directed by "Inconvenient Truth" filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, who also appears on the show. The film focuses on a several education reformers, including Rhee, Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children's Zone and the founders of the KIPP charter schools. Colleague Bill Turque said the film "depicts Rhee as the super-hero of 'Superman,' a combination of Wonder Woman and Xena fighting to bring the D.C. bureaucracy and Washington Teachers' Union to heel.

A spokeswoman for Winfrey's Harpo Productions confirms that Rhee will appear on an episode set to run Sept. 20.

The timing of the airing might be uncomfortable; city primary elections are set for Tuesday and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has been behind in recent polls. Rhee might be touting her successes while D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, whom Rhee has indicated she would be unwilling to work for, is mayor-elect presumptive mayor-elect.

UPDATE, 8:55 P.M.: Mea culpa: Gray, if he wins Tuesday, would not be mayor-elect as of Sept. 20, of course -- merely the presumptive mayor-elect in this heavily Democratic town. And even that might be presuming too much, as I wrote in today's paper.

Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post

By Mike DeBonis  |  September 10, 2010; 5:49 PM ET
Categories:  Michelle Rhee , The District  
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Next: Bill Slover challenges Fenty's explanation of his firing


When is Fenty going on Oprah?

Posted by: efavorite | September 10, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Oprah just dumbed down her show. What a joke!!!

Posted by: Unbelievable6 | September 10, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

"Wonder Woman or Xena ...... fighting to bring the DC Government amd Washington Teachers' Union to heel"? Are we talking about a filrm or a dog show? I hope they include the part about mass firnings making an end run around union contracts and blatant violation of the Hatch Act. Not to mention lying about budget shortfalls to justify some of those firings. Oprah has done some fine work over the years, but to feature Rhee on the same program as Gates for contributions to education is an insult. Her staff must be losing it. Thanks for the warning, I will make sure to watch Jerry Springer that day.

Posted by: Frustratededucator | September 10, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Rhee needs to be fired for failure to fire the school teacher who impregnated a developmentally challeged 18 year old student and for failing to call for legislation to criminalize sexual relations with students regardless of age.

It is quite she needs to go.

Bill Gates should stop interfering with local school systems-------

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | September 10, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

You go girl!

Posted by: johng1 | September 10, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

She can go wherever she wants to. I already voted against her!!!

Posted by: observator1000 | September 10, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

A vote against Rhee/ or Fenty is lowering the education of this city back to where it was 5 years ago.

ps- the union voted for the teachers contracts 3-1..

Posted by: pdv1 | September 10, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

What part did Bill Gate's money play in Rhee becoming chancellor of DC? That is the question he needs to answer.

Follow the money.

Posted by: educationlover54 | September 10, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Michelle can explain to Oprah's audience how she protected Kevin Johnson from sexual harrassment claims, and how she goofed up on handling the teacher who had sex with a student and got her pregnant. Then we can ask Bill Gates why he supports her.

Posted by: educationlover54 | September 10, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I can see Rhee dancing to Jay-z has she was getting ready for the "O" show. In the background was Jay Z's on to the next one.

Posted by: thelildiva4u | September 10, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Ever notice how Michelle Rhee only goes on shows and interviews where there are supporters? Why doesn't she ever debate or appear with people like Diane Ravitch, Linda Darling Hammond or some other real education reformers or people who just disagree with her? My guess is that they'd tear her to shreds and expose her severe lack of knowledge about education and education reforms and she knows that which is why she stays away from those who disagree with her and threaten to expose her.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | September 10, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Oh this is wonderful news!

Now the whole nation gets the chance to be entertained with Chancellor Rhee's minstrel show. She does Al Jolson proud! She doesn't blacken her face but she does Black dialect as part of her routine and tells a story of bloodying the mouths of Black children. As a 28-year teaching veteran at an inner-city public school, I was horrified at Rhee's story but seems like it was a big hit at this year's DCPS opening of school meeting.

The new white Teach For America missionary teachers just hooted when Rhee described placing masking tape over her 8-year-old student's mouths in inner-city Baltimore. The new hires seemed to accept this as a proper way to treat the kids. Hey, they're Black right! One wonders how many of these Ivy Leaguers will try Rhee's method on their charges this year. The Chancellor never told them she had made a mistake. Guess that would have killed the frivolity they were all sharing.

Then in the story of a field trip she botched in her few days of teaching Rhee launches into her imitation of Black speech. "Lawwwd Ms.Rhee whatchu gonna do!!!!??" Rhee boomed, drawing a big laugh. "Lawwwd Ms. Rhee whatchu gonna do!!!!??"

But a transcription doesn't do Michelle's racist comedy justice. You got to listen to it here in case she's ashamed to perform it again for Oprah.

Posted by: natturner | September 11, 2010 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully, among us, we can get the word about Rhee to Oprah before the show.

That means you, too, Bill.

Posted by: efavorite | September 11, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

You too, Mike

Posted by: efavorite | September 11, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

How can you get the information out to Oprah? For Oprah's sake I hope someone does, but being a celebrity she probably has a staff around her to protect her privacy.

Posted by: educationlover54 | September 11, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

It appears that Michelle Rhee has again been able to propel herself into a win/win position. If Gray wins, of course her message to the nation is that DC wants to continue to accept an unsuccessful school system for the students. Of course,dats indicates most of her reform methods have not produced exceptional results. You can believe, the stats will be slanted and no reference will be made that the first year after she managed to promote an exodus of experienced and credentialed teachers and substitute them with inexpereienced newbies, test scores fell dramatically. On the other hand, she will again have the spotlight on her as she lobbies for another high profile position. Everyone has assumed that with her broom, she was sweeping the teachers under the bus. Wrong, wrong, wrong, it was the children who have been swept up and out.Our children have been reduced to being lab rats with her experiment. She has sacrificed their future for her own. Of all of the school systems in this country, most having highly effective leaders, why does she continue to garner so much attention? Why doesn't Ophrah bring in someone who has a proven track record of implementing successful reforms? Why continue to focus on someone who just talks the talk but has not walked the walk? It is absurd to believe that the future of our kids depends only on one person. Apparently, she and her disciples believe that if the citizens of DC do not re-elect Fenty, that equates with their not having good sense and no commitment to improving education. We are committed to our children; veteran teachers for whom she has no use were the ones who held things together through a series of superintendents; but she is the one who acts like a petulant child, if I don't get my way, then I'm going to leave and take my marbles. Her commitment is to herself, not our children.

Posted by: crackedbutnotbroken | September 11, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Because the show has already been taped, I'm not sure what good it will do, but I think Oprah needs to hear from those of us who are critical of Bill Gate's support of a film that is propaganda of the highest order. People who have seen the film (I saw it in New York this past summer), which portrays unions, union teachers, and tenure as bad and Michelle Rhee and charter schools as "the answers," need to enlighten Oprah to the flaws and misinformation in the movie. The movie's conclusion, if I remember correctly, is a call to action "now that we have the answers." Too bad for public education if Michelle Rhee and charter schools are the answers. Oprah needs to be sent a link to Bill Turque's blog reporting Michelle Rhee's masking tape story, her field trip story, and her imitation of her student. I'm hoping that Oprah has not been duped and does a better job than The Washington Post editorial board at challenging the educational philosophies of Gates and Rhee, but I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: ocisab | September 11, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Well Fenty, after September 14th it will hit you like a ton of bricks. Rhee never cared about you. It has all been about her. Knowing you were not too bright, "dimwitted" as the WP described you, Michelle Rhee's celebrity and self promotion continues as Michelle Fenty cries real tears and you have no one but Ron Moten to cry to. What an ending!

Posted by: candycane1 | September 11, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I hope Oprah offers equal time to the real educators, such as Diane Ravitch, Linda Darling Hammond,Marion Brady, and several veteran teachers who have given the bulk of their careers to teaching instead of having the gaul to self-promote based on 3 years of VERY limited teaching experience.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | September 11, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Also, the artist in me becomes nauseated every time I see the above picture and read that she has the image of a super-hero.

Probably the only thing super about her is her that might make a great cartoon.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | September 11, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

"Of all of the school systems in this country, most having highly effective leaders, why does she continue to garner so much attention?"

Because of Bill Gates.

Posted by: jlp19 | September 11, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Gates is either setting up Rhee to get another high profile job, or is trying to influence the election so that Fenty gets re-elected.

I hope the people of DC understand how much Gates is interfering with their political and educational system. He is using his money to exert undue influence on DC.

Posted by: jlp19 | September 11, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Someday someone will write a book called:

How Bill Gates brought down a mayor (Fenty via Rhee) and a president (Obama via Duncan).

Posted by: jlp19 | September 11, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

There are more than just teachers that work for DCPS.......there are therapist, coordinators, adminsitrators, aides, and a host of workers that help to make the school system run, there is transportation, mainteance...........None of us have recieved a raise in 5 years. As a speech pathologist, I enjoy working with students immensley.... i dont feel that the teachers are anymore deserving of a raise than I am.....And for Rhee/ Fenty to only recognize WTU-teachers....will be his downfall!!!!!!!!!!! Especially when we all have to answer to the same IMPACT evaluation.

Posted by: ms88dcps | September 11, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Any chance Rhee will try to masking-tape Oprah's mouth shut?

Posted by: broadwayjoe | September 11, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

"Hopefully, among us, we can get the word about Rhee to Oprah before the show."
Posted by: efavorite

They don't want to hear the "word" about her or anyone else who has a differing or "real" opinion about what is happening in public schools today. It is easier to bash teachers than to step up to the plate and swing at the fast balls about what it is really wrong with public education today.

Oprah, et al, are public education reform groupies who are following the self-absorbed, out-of-touch pseudo reformers that will further diminish the effectiveness of public schools rather than make any real change.

I always thought Oprah was a light-weight, never watched opinion has been confirmed.

[In the name of fairness, she should, at least, devote one show to Rhee's and Gates' detractors.]

Posted by: ilcn | September 12, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

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