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A trail that Rhee shouldn't have hit

I suppose D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee assumed that a Mayor Vincent Gray would not keep her on the job if he wins the D.C. Democratic primary on Sept. 14.

Or maybe Rhee concluded that she wouldn’t want to work for Gray if he did win. At any rate, on Saturday Rhee decided to jump into the middle of the primary and hit the campaign trail on the side of the man who gave her the job, Mayor Adrian Fenty.

She is a polarizing figure in the District of Columbia, but I’m a fan of Michelle Rhee. Her courage and focus on education reform have shaken up the school system for the better. But I wish she had given her decision to get into the mix of partisan politics a bit more thought.

With Rhee’s move to campaign in the D.C. Democratic primary, I fear that Washington will be her first and last stop as a schools chief, at least in urban America. No other big-city school district is going to touch her. A school administrator who openly engages in partisan politics, regardless of the merits of the candidate, is viewed as trouble waiting to happen.

Had Fenty considered Rhee’s interests, and not his own, he would have told her, “Thanks, but, no thanks.”

Don’t worry, in the event of a Fenty loss, Rhee will not be standing in the unemployment lines. The educational reform movement, with its philanthropic support, will find a place for her, probably in a healthy six-figure income range.

But her departure will be a loss at the level where I think she can still do the most good.
It was her decision, and she made it. But she should have been saved from herself.

By Colbert King  | September 5, 2010; 4:11 PM ET
Categories:  King  | Tags:  Colbert King  
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I disagree, I think Rhee will find other school systems that want her. She is the superstar of this "reform" movement, love her or hate her, and whether or not one believes this movement is truly about reform.

I am only a partial fan, and I think she and Fenty suffer the same personality flaw, which is a lack of political understanding of the implications of their actions. The question is whether either can learn from the rather large and politically obvious mistakes that they have made.

Posted by: thisone | September 5, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Mr. King: Since you support Rhee so much. What do you think about this? Read the below and also look at the video. How would you like for Rhee to have put masking tape on one of your black children's mouths?

vnm202 wrote:
"putting masking tape on AFRICAN AMERICAN BABIES"

Who cares about the color of the babies?

Would it be "acceptable" if they were Asian babies?

Clearly, her speech was meant as a joke. Maybe not funny for some of us, maybe funny to some.

Vnm202, unlike you equality is far more important to me than color of a child’s skin. Placing MASKING TAPE on any child’s mouth, regardless of their race, is abusive, deplorable and unacceptable.

I find it paradoxical that Rhee—then a first year teacher in Baltimore--placed MASKING TAPE on her 3rd grade students’ mouths to prevent them from talking and caused bodily harm when the tape was removed.

Rhee-now the celebrated Chancellor of DCPS— jokingly tells hundreds of Teach America hirees how she silenced 3rd graders with MASKING TAPE and bloodied their mouths.

Rhee’s acknowledgement of using the “MASKING TAPE Silencer” to hundreds of new teachers gives a signal that it’s OK to use abusive tactics to handle defenseless, elementary school children in low-income neighborhoods!

Herein lies the problem: Rhee placed MASKING TAPE on African American 3rd graders—7 and 8 year old children-- and NO ONE CARES.

If the children were Asian, White or even Golden Retrievers everyone including Vnm202 and PETA would be in an uproar.

Rhee placed MASKING TAPE on the mouths of poor African American babies—funny story, the end.

efavorite: I’m working on getting this story out and everyone needs to do the same.

I still can’t believe it; I’m in utter shock and disgust.

If you have any influence with the national media, please try to get the word out that that way. Posting it on blogs is fine, but not enough.

Posted by: samvped205 | September 5, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Colby, are you trying to confuse us or did you actually forget that Rhee told us early on that she had no intention of making a career of running a school district. Here’s what she said back in June of 2007 when Fenty brought her on:

“I'm not a career superintendent…We see the harm that comes when people come in and in 2 1/2 years they're off to the next job after making 4 percent gains. I only took this job because I believe I can do it over the long haul."

This intention is mentioned again in a recent “Education Update article:
“What has helped Ms. Rhee immensely to shake up the system is the fact that she is not a career superintendent, nor does she intend to be.”

In February of 2010, after the first set of bad poll numbers came in, Rhee said this:
"I'm going to take a route that has not been tried before," she said. "I'm not going to try to please people so I can stay here a little longer."

So it really does sound like she has no intention of compromising with anyone in any way and that she doesn’t care about being superintendent here or anywhere.

Posted by: efavorite | September 5, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

samvped205 - thanks for your efforts - please send the info to King directly at

Kingc @ washpost dot com

He's a busy guy and doesn't necessarily read all the comments on his articles.

Posted by: efavorite | September 5, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

efavorite: will do. thanks

Posted by: samvped205 | September 5, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Mr. King--Campaigning with Fenty is the least of Michelle Rhee's outrageous acts. I agree with others commenting here that her stories of putting masking tape on children's mouths and taking students on an after-school outing without their home addresses, coupled with mocking the accents of her African-American students, should be the straw that should break the camel's back. This story deserved to be in the print edition rather than an after-thought on Bill Turque's blog. I too am trying to get the word out. All of you who have not listened to her stories, need to go the link and listen as advised in some earlier posts. I will join those who have already posted who are looking for a national media outlet to present this story for what it is. Until then, I am passing the word on to all who will listen. Mr. King, this is a story in need of some outrage. I would like to know how Fenty, Dunn, Broad, Gates, Duncan, Guggenheim, and Klein respond to this story about their darling reformer. I would like to know from Michelle Rhee what would happen today if a teacher under her watch engaged in the same behavior.

Posted by: ocisab | September 5, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

What a disappointment you are, Colbert King. Has anyone cut and past Rhee's "black face" and posted it to Youtube? The same "hilarious" reel where she talks about the bleeding lips of her black 3rd graders when they were allowed to pull the tape off. This newspaper is becoming SCAREY.

Posted by: modern1 | September 5, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Another key issue undecided voters want to know about is whether contracts to friends of Adrian Fenty were legal. We searched and found testimony in a TOWNHALL oversight hearing where DC Councilman David Catania provided a reading of Federal law to the Fenty administration's City Administrator, Neil Albert. Here's an excerpt 'unedited' of what we found from the website with 'NO SPIN' for those who wants answers. YOU DECIDE! Pass it on.

Posted by: jobforce | September 5, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Mr. King you state that you are a fan of Ms.Rhee, soon to be the wife of Sacramento, California Mayor Johnson. What I gather from your article is that Ms. Rhee should not campaign for the man that employed her, and who sees in her the salvation of the D.C. schools.
Ms. Rhee will not only be offered many jobs, but I am sure that any school district that hires her will benefit enormously.
Mr. King, are you in favor of the D.C. inept teachers to be subsidized by the US tax payer? Don't we have enough people on wellfare, that we need to include inept teachers in its rostrum!
Ms. Rhee's weeding of the inept teachers is a blessing for the mostly African American students that comprise the D.C. student population? I am sure you must agree that these students are the beneficiaries of Ms. Rhee's tough educational philosophy.

Posted by: maitami | September 6, 2010 12:56 AM | Report abuse

What the supporters of Chancellor Rhee have missed and what Mr. King sought to express is that the Chancellor has not completed her own goals. Therefore, by campaigning for Mayor Fenty,she eliminated herself from achieving those goals if the Mayor does not win re-election. Certainly, if Council Chair Gray wins the election he cannot maintain a Chancellor who is actively opposed to him. (That would be crazy.)

To date, the Chancellor's achievements are incomplete. I will give her credit for administrative achievements: having text books in place on-time, closing under-utilized school buildings, tracking the number of teachers and staff within the system, and even gaining the authority to effectively dismiss poorly performing teachers and administrators. While it boggles the mind that these were so difficult to do previously, I will not diminish them as successes. Nevertheless, the purpose of these administrative goals is to permit teachers to teach and children to learn. It is unclear that the Chancellor's overall methods in this regard have been successful.

The Chancellor has been in office for 3 years. The largest gain in test scores occurred in her first year. She cannot claim credit for that year as her policies had yet to be implemented. So, to date, her efforts as to test scores are virtually a wash, as this last year showed a decline.

The problem is that by campaigning for Mayor Fenty, the Chancellor may simply become another leader of the school system who leaves (or is forced out) prior to making any sustained changes to the system. This is what the Chancellor herself has identified as a problem, to which she may now be a contributor. It is a failure of the DC schools and many school systems across the country: the failure to maintain sustained leadership. (Note: The well-regarded and successful superintendent of the Montgomery County school system was in place for a number of years, through different County Executives and multiple County Council members. His policies will be on-going as he leaves his position.)

Therefore, I say good-bye to Chancellor Rhee. She has shown herself to be unwilling to accommodate different City leadership. As that is the case, then how compelling and persuasive can her policies be? She, as too many others, see the problems of public school education as merely an idea or concept. It is not. There are actual people involved: students, parents, teachers, mayors and other elected officials, etc. One must adapt to circumstances to be truly successful. In this, she is a failure.

Posted by: cfhiii_longinus | September 6, 2010 1:50 AM | Report abuse

Mr. King,I believe it is time for you to retire. You are completely out of touch with what DC Citizens want for their city.
I remember reading an article you wrote about a year ago when you interviewed Ms. Rhee and at the end of your article, you said,that she spoke about herself and her PR throughout the country but spoke nothing about DC kids.To me that sentence spoke volumes about Ms.Rhee. She is about herself not about our kids.

Posted by: DCWatcher3 | September 6, 2010 1:51 AM | Report abuse

Colby, I'm surprised. Partisan politics? Perhaps, but we're talking about a Democratic primary. Rhee is a nasty woman with little to no teaching experience. She's a professional educational reformer who's time has come. 명. 헤어짐, 작별
감탄. 잘가, 안녕! (헤어질 때 쓰는 표현) .

Posted by: nechmod | September 6, 2010 5:08 AM | Report abuse

King, your meager posat does not fool anyone. You despise Rhee and Fenty because they actually fired useless teachers who were black. They, so called, busted the Teachers Union and you racist died in the wool DC democrats can't stand that. You fool noone. DC, I hope understandsthat the children and their future is what is important, not dead beat teachers hiding behind a do nothing, outdated union.

Posted by: bobilly2 | September 6, 2010 5:39 AM | Report abuse

I find it hilarious that in D.C. the phrase "partisan politics" really means "which Democrat do you support in the Democrat primary". No wonder there is so much corruption in D.C., it is a one party system.

Posted by: screwjob21 | September 6, 2010 5:40 AM | Report abuse

makes no difference who has this job in da city,they will fail. the system is so politicized,racist and totally inept. the schools are terroized by thugs that neither teachers or police cannot or will not control

Posted by: pofinpa | September 6, 2010 6:00 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Rhee has focused on one thing and one thing only, getting kids in the District a good education. The status quo has fought her every step of the way. If she leaves the District school system will suffer. The ones who should suffer are those who fight reform.

Posted by: bobbo2 | September 6, 2010 6:27 AM | Report abuse

To: Nechmid, bobilly2, screwjob21, pofinpa and biobbo2:

Look at the below video and let me know what you think of Rhee if it were your children and be honest.

Posted by: samvped205 | September 6, 2010 6:55 AM | Report abuse

Washington Examiner said….Number of D.C. Schools Meeting National Standards PLUNGES!

It’s time for Michelle Rhee and Mayor Fenty’s experiment on DCPS to end:

1. 8 out of 87 DCPS elementary schools met their DC CAS AYP targets

2. 2 out of 34 middle and high schools met their DC CAS AYP targets

Over the past 3 years the number of DCPS Schools NOT meeting their DC CAS National Targets has increased since Mayor Fenty hired school Chancellor, Michelle Rhee. Rhee continues to recruit unqualified (TFA’s)and un-credentialed folks to teach and run our schools (New Leaders). The above facts speak for themselves.

September 14th…….DC parents will make the needed change happen. Fenty & Rhee must go!

Posted by: hello101 | September 6, 2010 7:07 AM | Report abuse

Everyone is assuming that 1-Fenty will lose (I agree) and 2-Rhee will quit (I don't know if that is the case)
SO, for discussion...if she does pack it up, do we want to start discussing what talents and abilities we want to see in the next Chancellor? (I have no problem with firing inept teachers either.)

Posted by: johnklenert | September 6, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Rhee is a central figure in the Mayoral election. Do you really think it matters if she campaigns for the candidate she is so closely associated with?

The Op-ed is unpersuasive because it ignores the obvious.

Posted by: millerroberta | September 6, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Rhee didn't get where she is now by playing by the rules. Shaking up the school system? Not by the rules.

She has her own agenda. Not playing by the rules is part of it. Being polarizing is part of it. Drawing that healthy six-figure income, again, part of it. Heeding advice from the likes of Colby King.....
Nice try, but the lady gets the cigar.

Posted by: martymar123 | September 6, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

samvped205: Stop concentrating on masking tape and start concentrating on SAT scores and GPA.

hello101: More schools failed because the national standards were increased. But you didn't put that fact into your tirade because your purpose was to distort the truth for political gain instead of thinking about the children who will continue to suffer without a person at the helm who will challenge the Teacher's Union.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | September 6, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Mr. King: Since you support Rhee so much. What do you think about this? Read the below and also look at the video. How would you like for Rhee to have put masking tape on one of your black children's mouths?

vnm202 wrote:
"putting masking tape on AFRICAN AMERICAN BABIES"

Who cares about the color of the babies?

Would it be "acceptable" if they were Asian babies?

Do you really think that would be NECESSARY with Asian or white babies?

Posted by: luca_20009 | September 6, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

As a first generation Washingtonian of African descent, my parents are from South Carolina. I saw Jerry Phillips on channel 4 viewpoint,first let me state I'm a Fenty supporter and I was trying to find out why Fenty is so hated. I think he is working hard to make the city better, but let me get back to Jerry Phillips comment which I feel may have answered my question and that is Fenty haven't placated old Washington he stated their are two Washingtons, the new Washington and the Old Washington and that Fenty haven't cultivated the Old Washingtonians. I mean I'm just trying to find out why the hate among African American community. If anyone else could enlightend me I would appreciated. I mean this guy if really hated. i almost had to tell this old man in the barbershop to calm down before I put him down I mean he was that argumentative towards me for my support of Fenty. Have he made misteps yes but remember we reelected a Mayor who smoked crack. For your information I voted for him too. So I am saying that whatever misteps the Mayor have made he is a hard worker and his energy to upgrading the city shouldn't be so dismissed. Is he not responsible for the upgrade in School atheletic facitites that ten years ago was the worst in the nation,now we have the best facities of any large city. Gentrification was coming whether he was mayor or not so lets put that boy to bed. City services are better than anyplace in the country. I think he may have something to do with that. The school system, you say you want better educators and better schools well you get someone in who is carrying out the mandate and you crush him for upholding his campaingn promise. Maybe Rhee is not the person for the job but what do you want a do nothing mayor. Rhee in my opinion is not the issue the issue is the mayor and I would like this guy and his energy to remain in place whatever mistakes he have made he will be a better mayor having gone throught this campaingn

Posted by: brothastimulus | September 6, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Interesting parents of DCPS students? Hmmmm A strong woman who may not look like the posters nor look like Mr. King....Hmmmmmm Putting kids first is fine with is about time! Tough love is hard to do and even harder to accept!

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | September 6, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

ProfessorWrightBSU: You are one crazy butt hole. If you think SAT and GPA scores are more important than putting masking tape on African American children's mouths and making them bleed, then you are one crazy individual.

All I can say is that you need psychiatric help.

Posted by: samvped205 | September 6, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Interesting parents of DCPS students? Hmmmm... A strong woman who may not look like the posters - a strong columnist who may not look like the posters....Hmmmmmm ...Putting kids first is fine with is about time! It has been such a long time comin' Tough love is hard to do and even harder to accept!

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | September 6, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

"No other big-city school district is going to touch her. "

Considering the fact that she is not a true reformer - that's a good thing.

Mr. King - if DCPS does get a true reformer, will you support that person? True reform will not happen in the black community unless they support a true reformer.

Posted by: educationlover54 | September 6, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks Rhee will stay under Gray has not been paying attention. She made him look like a complete fool during the budget "crisis," running circles around him and the rest of the embarrassed Council. She has little professional respect for him, and rightfully so. He was in way over his head as Council Chair, and as mayor I fear paralysis and regression.

We need to have a not-so-nice mayor who knows what he is doing vs. a nice guy who doesn't have a clue.

Posted by: paulkp | September 6, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

ProfessorWrightBSU: You are one crazy butt hole. If you think SAT and GPA scores are more important than putting masking tape on African American children's mouths and making them bleed, then you are one crazy individual.

All I can say is that you need psychiatric help.

Posted by: samvped205

Black children need to shut their mouths and learn. Even the Hispanics many of whom have English as a second language are beginning to pass us in standardized testing.

Make excuses and call me crazy if you want, but I have advanced degrees in computer science and teach at an HBCU and many of the students that enter college are not initially prepared and have to play catch up. Some do, but too many drop out. Check the statistics on black dropout rates at all educational levels and then decide who is crazy.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | September 6, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Mr. King, you'd better watch out. One more word from you and Rhee may masking-tape your mouth shut. How come the Post never covered Rhee's Masking-tape-gate?

While you're thinking about that ...

Thought experiment: what if Rhee had masking-tape shut the mouths of some Georgetown Day students. What would have been the outcome for Rhee?

Posted by: broadwayjoe | September 6, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

"Professor" Wright, how's Uncle Ruckus doing?

Posted by: broadwayjoe | September 6, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

You are already assuming that Fenty will lose and Rhee will get fired. So it makes sense for Rhee to campaign for her job and help Fenty get re-elected

Posted by: crudblue | September 6, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

It seems that the latest recession is a good thing. It is called reform where we get rid of all the dead wood. Rhee is proforming the same in terminations is geting rid of dead wood. You have to like the latest reform as we got rid of dead wood. Rhee and business must be right. We even have words for this system the worker is f..ked!

Posted by: artg | September 6, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

"Professor" Wright, how's Uncle Ruckus doing?

Posted by: broadwayjoe

You can drop the quotation marks, I have been giving back by teaching [part-time] at my alma mater [an HBCU] for over 5 years. I have also either hired directly, or worked to find jobs for several of my students and other alumni after they graduated.

In the 3rd grade at J.C. Nalle elementary school in Southeast DC, I distinctly remember my teacher [name withheld] telling us that if we weren't quiet she would make sprinkle angel dust (i.e. PCP) on us and make us sit in a dark closet where we would lose our minds.

Without discipline you have disorder and you can't learn. If those children in Baltimore were not being disruptive, they wouldn't have had their mouths taped shut. Shame on their parents for not encouraging (by corporal punishment if necessary) their children to be quiet during class.

oh, and Uncle Ruckus is fine, how's Riley?

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | September 6, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

ProfessorWright - are you saying you approve of taping children's mouths shut and that's it's OK and even funny if their lips bleed when the tape is removed?

Have you listened to the audiotape?

If not, please do, before making another comment on this matter.

Posted by: efavorite | September 6, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

My comments reflect what others have said here already: Michelle Rhee was and is the breath of fresh air needed to clean out the failed DC public schools--I won't use the term "system." As all of the informed public knows, she owes her job to Mayor Fenty and has been the target of attacks by his political opponent, Gray. It makes perfect sense for her to campaign openly for the incumbent mayor and this will not be held against her should she seek employment in other cities.

Posted by: Watersville | September 6, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

"Professor" Wright, say "hi" to "Doc" Rivers, "Doctor" J, and "Queen" Latifah.

BTW, they say Uncle Ruckus voted early for Fenty.

Don't know for sure, but we're betting Rhee -- and her masking tape -- will not be part of the Gray Administration.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | September 6, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

broadwayjoe: I think Rhee made a mistake by coming out in support of Fenty unless she had already been told by Gray's people that she would not be retained.

efavorite: After my parents graduated from UDC, and got 'good jobs', we moved out of Southeast and into PG County, and they put me in private school. My parents gave the school permission to paddle me. A little duct tape doesn't hurt by comparison, so the answer is yes - I approve of this particular disciplinary action. Baltimore has the worst scores in the state of Maryland. Something must be done to bring order, so that the students can learn.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | September 6, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Brothastimulus wrote:
“…I'm a Fenty supporter and I was trying to find out why Fenty is so hated. I think he is working hard to make the city better…I'm just trying to find out why the hate among African American community. If anyone else could enlightend me I would appreciated”.

Brotha – you are correct that Fenty has made missteps. You are incorrect in your assertion that “City services are better than anyplace in the country.” To answer your question, we do not want a “do-nothing mayor.” Fenty conveniently forgot the cardinal rule in politics – do not offend the electorate you serve. He has assumed a mantle of entitlement as if he were royalty, hence, the frequent references to him as King Fenty. When he puts his children in a school outside the boundary, when he closes down streets, so he and his buddies can bicycle without auto traffic, it offends the people he was elected to serve.

Here are a few reasons why I did not vote for Fenty:
•He has decimated the $1.4 billion surplus left by former Mayor Anthony Williams
•His administration has been secretive, with no transparency
•He has broken things that were fixed during the Williams administration, such as DMV services
•He has broken things that did not need to be fixed such as putting meters in taxis, then setting a base rate that is too low
•He has attempted to circumvent the democratic primary process which has been in place for over 30 years
•He vetoed the voter corruption bill of 2010
•He politicized the Summer Youth Employment Program after he overspent the budget (trying to surpass the participant numbers of the Barry years)
•He took control of the school system, appointed an unqualified person as Chancellor. (He voted against mayoral control during his tenure on the council.)
•He decides, apparently on a whim, that he can take money designated for one line item (river clean-up) and divert it for services that should be paid from the general operating budget
•He continues to lie to us during this campaign – if his cronies did not get $82 million in contracts by circumventing the standard bid process and Council oversight, he should clarify exactly what happened. He should also explain why Bill Slover was fired.
•He should not make Vincent Gray’s tenure as head of DHS (fifteen years ago) an issue unless he is willing to talk about the problems in the DCYRS that persist now.
•Personality traits that indicate he should not be re-elected: he is vengeful and will retaliate against those who do not drink the Fenty Kool-Aid, reference the baseball ticket fiasco that continued until this year
•Peter Nickles playing in the Dick Cheney role.

Posted by: sheridaw | September 6, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

professorwright - apparently you haven't listened to the audiotape yet. Please do.

Rhee had the kids apply tape to their mouths as a game, not a disciplinary act - but really it was a way to keep them quiet as they walked through the halls to lunch. Rhee couldn't keep them quiet any other way. Rhee recounted to a group of new DCPS teachers that the kids lips bled when they removed the tape to go to eat. The new teachers laughed when they heard this story.

Then Rhee told the new teachers another funny story about how she failed to get second graders’ home addresses when she took them on an after-school field trip. She mimicked the kids’ speech pattern as part of telling the story.

Please listen to the tape and tell us if you still approve.

Posted by: efavorite | September 6, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I freely admit that I know no details regarding Rhee's spectacular firing of so many hundreds of teachers. But I assert that it reeks of opportunism and grandstanding at the expense of others. Shouldn't the Chancellor be instituting new, stricter standards for teachers, and having designated administrators carefully monitor adherence to these standards, rather than making headlines with mass firings?

Posted by: observer92 | September 6, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

efavorite you wrote:
...really it was a way to keep them quiet as they walked through the halls to lunch. Rhee couldn't keep them quiet any other way.

Her cautionary story about a singular taping of children's mouths 15 years ago has no legs. Stop trying to force it because you have an ax to grind. It will blow up in your face and you will be like Andrew Breitbart with Rhee playing the Korean Shirley Sherrod.

I know from some of your past (and very intelligent) posts that you don't like Rhee's methods. I don't agree with you.

I have for decades watched infighting between the various Mayors and City Council members while the children continue to suffer. Cutting the deadwood is all that Rhee can realistically control. The real problem is the parents. There is nothing she can do about that.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | September 6, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Professorwright - it sounds like you still haven't listened to the tape. That's your option, of course, but it does seem odd to me that a professor would reach a conclusion without examining available evidence.

As for cutting out the deadwood, please see Jay Mathews' article today on how a successful AP teacher was treated.

Posted by: efavorite | September 6, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Like Dan Snyder's Skins ownership tenure, she has made alot of noise, alot of changes, alot of offseason headlines, fired alot of folk, and become very well known outside of DC.

But like Dan Snyder also, she has failed to improve the results where it most matters despite all of the above. On the field, Skins are no better than they were 12 years ago when Dan came along. And today, DC schools recent external audit where only 10 of 121 schools passed is the same outcome despite the above.

Firing teachers? Anyone can do that. But that blames them for social problems they didn't create. If Rhee could replace every DC teacher with all teachers from Montgomery and Fairfax, they'd fair no better, unless the social problems were first fixed.

Posted by: morrisday1 | September 6, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

All -

dcps students, parents and teachers deserve a Chancellor or Superintendent who is interested in reasoned change and positive reform to enhance the educational curriculum to ensure all are equipped for a rapidly changing world. They do NOT need or deserve a broom wielding Bloomberg plant who is tied more to "who is Mayor" than the reforms she said she wants to bring. If she does not want to be here if AMF loses, then send her packing on that same broom. And send her packing as she did to the dedicated teachers she had escorted out of theit schools in front of horrified students and other teachers. At least she will have more notice than she gave many of the teachers who did not deserve that kind of treatment.

She is not the only education reformer in the US or the world for that matter who can makes DCPS a model educational system --- not even close.

We are not desperados. Please do not buy into the idea that Rhee is the only option for education reform. Remember, with Fenty you get Rhee, Nickles (not worth a dime), Peaceaholics, and sleazy contract deals.

DC deserves better. Is it Gray? Maybe not but for now he is the best alternative.

Posted by: Circanet | September 6, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Funding and salaries tied to performance, and national standards to get on par with global competitors, are long overdue. Research now in on charters exposes them as the non-solution they are. They do not produce any better result than public schools, only drain funds from them.

- Balkingpoints / www

Posted by: RField7 | September 6, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Professorwright - it sounds like you still haven't listened to the tape. That's your option, of course, but it does seem odd to me that a professor would reach a conclusion without examining available evidence.

As for cutting out the deadwood, please see Jay Mathews' article today on how a successful AP teacher was treated.

Posted by: efavorite

The teacher was transferred, not fired. Are you saying that Rhee was involved? If so, how does his being transferred benefit her? I don't see a smoking gun there. He's still in her school system and therefore still a bee in her bonnet. If anything this move hurts Rhee because now he's in NE instead of NW.

You really have to appreciate teachers of his ilk who want to hold the students to a higher standard. I wonder how he managed to stay in DC for so long without Montgomery, Howard or Fairfax stealing him away? His wife must work in the city too.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | September 6, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

To all who love impressions:

As I do understand the serious problem of Rhee taking children on an unscheduled field trip without their emergency contact information, I was even more disturbed by her enthusiastic depiction of her students, and the laughter of her future teacher audience...

"Lawwwd Ms.Rhee whatchu gonna do!!!!??" Rhee boomed, drawing a big laugh. "Lawwwd Ms. Rhee whatchu gonna do!!!!??"

If you have not listened to the audio, please do; it can be found here:

For those who find that funny, perhaps this YouTube video of a young white man doing impressions of Asians will make your day. It can be found here:

It is entitled "Asian Impressions", and he adds an explanation that, "I am not a racist. Just my attempt at Asian voices."

It is also revealing that this young assembly of first year teachers, a well-educated and mostly white audience that is about to "hit the beaches" of urban public schools finds such characterizations so entertaining.

You don't have to look very hard to find impressions of any race about another, but you better be in the right room before you decide to laugh out loud. Isn't that the true test?

Ms. Rhee felt so comfortable with this audience that she wanted them to understand that she was once just like them. This was obviously not rehearsed or written down. Even if it was hugely embellished (as is most of her autobiography), this is the type of conversation that truly provides a window into her perception of, and condescension towards the very children she claims to be her "raison de la vie".

My apologies, in advance, to all French people who would otherwise not wish to be identified with my commentary.

Posted by: AGAAIA | September 6, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know when the next poll will be out? Do you know whose winning? thanks

Posted by: samvped205 | September 6, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Michelle Rhee is to the people (mostly black) of DC, what Obama is to the Teabaggers. She is not "one of them". She like Obama, wants to change the paradigm in DC. Those who are resistant to this change want to maintain the status quo of corruption, ineptitude, laziness, and non accountability.

Posted by: demtse | September 6, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

D.C.'s BLACK RACISTS who've projected their reverse discrimination and bias on an Asian school reformer should be charged with hate crimes. Korean community organizations in California and New York City have long been victims of Black racists, or should I say "BLACK" black racists so that we know whom I'm talking about. I still have that photo of a $100,000 elegantly dressed Black teacher in a D.C. classroom that had ragged, decrepit ceilings and walls...obviously every bit of spare change was sponged up by the union into teacher benefits and salaries. RHEE is a major hero and champion of school reform and has the accomplishments to back her up. To let 'Black' black racists subtly undermine her is despicable!

Posted by: Common_Cents1 | September 6, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Mr. King,

Are you serious? A fan of Rhee, Child Abuser- and Bullying-Superintendent-in- Chief? Clearly you are too out of touch with what goes on in DCPS.

I'm beginning to think that the city would be so much better off without the Washington Post. Lord knows, we could do better!

Posted by: vscribe | September 6, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

It's interesting that the most strongly felt comments on our school system come from people who have a world of difficulty understanding the articles they are commenting on, making clear and persuasive arguments, and even making themselves understood.

Two generations ago, LOW standards and expectations in education were considered racist. Look how comfortable we have since become with barely-functional-level cognitive and verbal abilities. Two generations have brought us to the point where low to nonexistent expectations in our schools are not only considered acceptable, but proper, and even ideal. And the minority who want to pull the city out of this intellectual death-spiral have become pariahs.

What is this leading to, and is that really the future we want? Who do we imagine will benefit from a third generation of backtracking?

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | September 6, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

There are many urban areas dying to hire her, in addition to ed reform organizations.

Gray sucks, hates reform ("I voted for it" doesn't count, he hates Rhee because he's on the union dole), and that's why she will NOT work for him. She can get voters to turn out in Wards 1 through 3 which is why she attended a Fenty rally as a private citizen (and said so TWICE during her speech).

Posted by: RL67 | September 6, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Sounds as if posters who write for the National Enquirer are trying to sell masking tape to hospitals for babies or something or to schools for teachers or for parents to give to teachers...Curiouser and Curiouser, says Alice in Whackoland!

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | September 6, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I disagree with this article. Rhee is not "looking out for her career" like the mediocre fiends who ruined our school system for decades. Her goal is to reform DC schools. She knows she won't be able to do that with Gray trying to appease his cronies, so she fights for what she wants. I applaud her.

As for the masking tape incident: if was her first year as a teacher, 18 years ago, she made a mistake, we all make them when we're young and inexperienced.

The real child abuse is the state of education in the District before she took over-- what were DC schools good for? Really? What did you expect the kids to do when they graduate? Get a job working for the school system?

We had a horrible failing system, and we are making good and positive changes, but people are ready to end school reform in order to score some quick points and burt the city schools back in the hell where they were for so long.

The real child abusers are the incompetents leeching paychecks they don't deserve.

Posted by: alarico | September 6, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I, too, wish Rhee had stayed home--wherever that might be--a long time ago. She has done more to destroy teacher morale than any of her fellow "stars" in the reform movement.

Rhee is the kind of know-it-all, unfeeling smarty pants who somehow finds her way into a powerful position, which she then uses to crush the "little" people--just because she can. Every time she bares her teeth and fixes her latest victim with that cruel little smile, I shudder.

I put Rhee in a category with Sarah Palin and Carly Fiorina. At some point people have to recognize mean and nasty when they see it. I can hardly wait for all three of them (like Barbara Boxer's hair) to be "so yesterday." (Sorry, Barbara, I think your hair is fine.)

Posted by: behonek | September 6, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I listened to the audio of Chancellor Rhee telling how she used masking tape on her elementary students to keep them quiet. Rhee was laughing when telling how their little mouths were bleeding when the tape was ripped-off.

This sounds like some Bush, integration sh*! at Guantanamo Bay. Rhee is crazy and she should not be working with children.



Posted by: GoldCoast | September 6, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse


I think your advance degree has cancelled out your common sense. For you to say it's OK for a teacher to place masking tape on 3rd graders mouths'(7 & 8 yr old babies), which also caused injury, is asinine.

I wonder how the President or your Dean @ BSU would react to your statement?

Posted by: GoldCoast | September 6, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

GoldCoast, that was 18 years ago-- who pays you to post this nonsense?


Posted by: alarico | September 6, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

My first reaction to the masking tape and accent imitation is that of horror. I was shocked and appalled. Yes, Michelle Rhee has to go.

I think, in this age of 24 hr "news casts" and blogs, all of us tend to have a knee jerk reaction. Same white reaction to Shirley Sherrod's narration of her experiences, same democratic, independent and of course, republican reaction to President Obama's policies.

Shirley Sherrod was narrating, using her own flawed experiences, what should not be done. She was trying to tell her audience how sometimes our gut reaction can be wrong but you need to overcome those feelings and do what is right. She tried to empathize with her audience. We now know how everybody reacted to that.

Same thing with Michelle Rhee, she narrated that story to show her own flawed experiences, show her own ignorance to encourage her audience not to give up if they make mistakes initially but to learn from them.

As for the accent imitation; if we are honest with ourselves, we are all guilty of doing that. She was not trying to condescend a black accent but imitating a child groaning - the way we imitate how our teenagers talk - with rolling eyes and omg, and like, and so on....

IT IS EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO DO THE RIGHT THING AND BE POPULAR. Look at President Obama. His healthcare reform, his policies against Wall St fat cats, his commitment to bringing the troops home. These are all the right decisions but those who stand to lose most will fight the hardest against him and will win because they don't need to play fair. Wall St blames Obama for the economy even tho they caused it and everybody listens.

President Obama is put on the defensive now and is criticized for it. Michelle Rhee just ignores all this negative press because she knows she will NOT BE POPULAR but SHE HAS TO GET THE JOB DONE. President Obama and his administration also see the writing on the wall and is pushing the right things through even tho' we will all say he is pushing things we don't want down our throats.

THIS IS SAD BECAUSE IT SHOWS WE, AS AMERICANS, have no patience to do the right thing. We think all these really, really HARD STUFF can be achieved in a couple of years. Unfortunately, it can't and we will all be back to square one with the Republicans back in power and people like Michelle Rhee out of the school system.

Posted by: harrytam | September 6, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Masking tape. Crickets. Masking tape. Crickets. Masking tape. Crickets.

Posted by: bs2004 | September 6, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, leaders and voters rarely rise to the level of someone like Nelson Mandela but after seeing the movie Invictus this weekend and then reading this article and the acid posts on the site, the thought occurred to me how difficult it is to look beyond racial prejudices and cronism in politics to do what is right and this comment is meant for all parties in the debate.

Mandela, against the advice of his own advisors and without the support of his political base risked his political capital to bring South Africa together over a virtually all-white rugby team and in the process brought unity of purpose to the country that didn't exist before.

Do the schools in DC need improvement? Is this an easy task? I believe the answers are a resounding Yes to the former and No to the latter. Of course Hollywood makes it all seem easier than it is but it seems to me that there is much for all to learn in making the difficult decisions to improve the DC school system. What if we all learned to work and achieve something together?

Posted by: TomMiller1 | September 6, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

King’s opinion seems to smack into the face of another opinion that has a different view of all this educational reform garbage (Samuelson). Michelle Rhee is a polarizing figure, and that is all she has going for her. How long is it going to take for everyone to grow up and realize that her style of educational reform is a farce? Will Rhee be held accountable for her failure or will there be another smokescreen put up to confuse the idiots that have already gobbled up her snake oil without thinking?

Michelle Rhee is an educational quack! She has sold everyone on a bill of goods she will never be able to deliver on and what is sad is that she knows it. What makes her so reprehensible is how she used the ignorance and prejudice of the public to belittle and abuse teachers in her quest of reforming education. Tragically, her lack of understanding of human growth and development has done more damage to public education than any “ineffective” classroom teacher and the schools in DC will be in the process of rebuilding long after this charlatan has gone on to greener pastures of the gullible. And so the cycle begins again. How sad!

Posted by: jdman2 | September 6, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps she heard some of Kevin Johnson's summer interns were in attendance and she just wanted to threaten them. It may not have been political at all.

Posted by: 54465446 | September 6, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Harrytam - Here's a major difference --Shirley Sherrod wasn't jovial when she told her story and her audience was laughing in response.

TomMiller - Michelle Rhee is no Nelson Mandela and I am so sorry that you've been so taken in by the press that you would even think to make the comparison.

Posted by: efavorite | September 6, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

correction: her audience was NOT laughing in response.

Posted by: efavorite | September 6, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Here's a video of a woman being stoned in Iran:

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | September 6, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

jdman2 wrote:

"Michelle Rhee is a polarizing figure, and that is all she has going for her. How long is it going to take for everyone to grow up and realize that her style of educational reform is a farce?"

"Michelle Rhee is an educational quack!"

JD -- I co-sign your entire post! You read my mind, but articulated my thoughts perfectly.

Posted by: sheridaw | September 6, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

This is really beneath you. Rhee is a citizen, and if she should choose to tell people on her own time what her own opinion is, she has that right.

This elections has become scummy enough, without suggestions of threat against private citizens. You know as well as the rest of us that education was the original bailiwick of self-rule -- and therefore, the original synecure of corruption in this city. In her job, Rhee has acted against people who were certain they were "protected" because they "knew somebody."

When you join in on attacks against Rhee, you sound as if you think that protection was a good thing, and that our government is more for some people than others. Shades of what brought us into government receivership. I thought you were smart enough not to get into that muck.

Posted by: thmas | September 6, 2010 11:55 PM | Report abuse

alarico wrote:

GoldCoast, that was 18 years ago-- who pays you to post this nonsense?


Are you serious? Rhee gets a pass because it was 18 years ago when she abused 35 children that were entrusted in her care?

You people that can't see beyond your own self-interest is the reason why true education reform will not happen under Rhee’s leadership. With eyes wide shut, you are willing to excuse Rhee’s inappropriate behavior, lies and number fudging as long as it doesn’t impact your world.

And, for your information I don’t work for anyone nor do I have school age children. I’m a private citizen that believes in the common good and Rhee ain’t it!

Posted by: GoldCoast | September 7, 2010 12:50 AM | Report abuse

I found it appalling to hear Chancellor Rhee describing nefarious mishap with her then 3rd grade students. I found it very offensive and despicable of an account and absolutely repulsive it was apparently very funny to an audience of educators/teachers. As she mentioned in the audio recording, she had to resort to some management techniques that were not so good. The described technique of clearly tricking these innocent kids and placing masking tape on their mouths and causing them harm at removal of the tape is egregious. Coming from a trusted school authority such as a chancellor is a “crying shame” and talking about it to a assembly of teachers in anticipation of a school year and being met with resounding laughter have made me feel so disgusted. This made me extrapolate on many other “not so good management techniques” she might have used to silence those poor kids, who could only trust and do what their teacher would ask them to do. It seemed to me that in this case the end has determined the means. Now what? Kids might have been physically hurt, traumatized, shocked, and intimidated but obviously nobody ever cared and still cares at least from listening to Michelle Rhee and the reverberating sound of laughter in what seemed to be a comic play. Where is the sensitivity, the care, attention and consideration that we owe to our innocent children? This is a disgrace coming from the top official that we, I mean the mayor has vested all authority to be in charge of educating our kids. That misadventure as characterized by the author of the article got me to question the robotic, insensitive and soulless educational system that is being imposed on us. Protect and nurture the children of the city regardless of who they are.

Here is the link; listen to it yourself;

Posted by: dc4metoo | September 7, 2010 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Respectfully, you being a fan of Ms Rhee does not have any value to what our kids at the receiving end have the right to get from the educational system. What matters and should always be at the core of any school reform should be for the benefit of our kids provided there is true and honnest representation of its results. It has been a joke, a scam politically and economically motivated with big guns standing by. Not in here. DC residents are asking questions and will not allow to be discounted any longer.

Posted by: dc4metoo | September 7, 2010 1:34 AM | Report abuse

Are you serious? Rhee gets a pass because it was 18 years ago when she abused 35 children that were entrusted in her care?

You people that can't see beyond your own self-interest is the reason why true education reform will not happen under Rhee’s leadership. With eyes wide shut, you are willing to excuse Rhee’s inappropriate behavior, lies and number fudging as long as it doesn’t impact your world.

And, for your information I don’t work for anyone nor do I have school age children. I’m a private citizen that believes in the common good and Rhee ain’t it!
Posted by: GoldCoast | September 7, 2010 12:50 AM |


How very conveniently you excuse the child abuse inflicted by public schools to DC students. I'm sure you'd love to go back to the days of Marion "the b set me up" Barry.

If some rookie mistake of a Teach for America kid fresh out of college 18 years ago is all the dirt you can dig out on Rhee, your position is laughable. What jackass things did you do when you were 23? None at all? What's more important is that by the time she ended her 3 year stint in Baltimore schools she brought her students from the bottom of the barrel to the top 90% on a national level. That's commitment to improve the lives of children.

And she's the best thing to happen to our schools for I don't know how many decades. Yes, she's not perfect (are you?), but she's battled against an army of bureaucratic leeches that suck our taxes and give nothing in return, and you cannot get anybody more committed to improving our schools than she is. Gray will bring nothing but compromises and regression to the same old culture of unaccountability that has condemned generations of DC kids to having no future.

Keep hammering your nonsense, you're clearly a paid shill trying to make a mountain out of a molehill to distract people from the real issues. You're a demagogue like Glenn Beck. For shame!

Posted by: alarico | September 7, 2010 1:53 AM | Report abuse

^^ correction: that was the top 10% (90 percentile) not "top 90%".

Posted by: alarico | September 7, 2010 2:00 AM | Report abuse

Entering the political arena was a huge mistake for Rhee. She has chosen sides. School districts have enough difficulty with creationists, anti public school groups, business entrepreneurs who see a buck to be made in education and various other fringe groups. She has politicized her office. Its time for her to go.

Posted by: tryreason | September 7, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Fenty left the DCPS superintendent he inherited hanging, "twisting in the wind", without executive-level staff support for an entire school year, before finally dismissing him. So much of what is claimed for Rhee is what the US claims for today's Iraq, fewer bombings compared to the hell on earth that preceeded it.

Ms. Rhee cannot have made a substantial change in the number of motivated supported teachers through dismissal of the ones lacking the right stuff. Only hundreds out of thousands have been dismissed. So, the fraction of the teacher corps terminated is itself only a tiny fraction of the fraction -- one third or more -- which the Chancellor or her chief aid have estimated to be incompetent. Ms. Rhee claims to have accomplished too much by doing very little, but doing it very noisily.

Is it too much to wonder that Colby King does not wish for Ms. Rhee connubial bliss instead of an executive career separated from her future husband? Not to worry; she managed her previous organization, based in NYC, from her home in Colorado, so she can be as much a success from Sacramento as Ms. Palin is from Wassila.

Posted by: incredulous | September 7, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

What's more important is that by the time she ended her 3 year stint in Baltimore schools she brought her students from the bottom of the barrel to the top 90% on a national level. That's commitment to improve the lives of children.

Posted by: alarico

You realize, of course, that that was a lie and she obatined her current position (she was unqualified to be a superintendent) by fraud. The private education company she was working for lost its contract in Baltimore because that failed to raise the test scores of the students they taught. According to her, her class pass rate increased by 77%, but the scores at her entire school did not even increase by 5%. That means that every other class tested would have had to seen their pass rate decline over 10% from an already low (10%-15%) position. Her claim is impossible on its face. Not surprisingly, her claims have never been documented. She is a liar. She hates poor and working people. She is a dangerous narcissist. In fact, she has no redeeming characteristics at all.

Posted by: mcstowy | September 9, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

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