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Michelle Rhee and Kevin Johnson get engaged

Kevin Johnson gives D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee a hug after testifying on her behalf at her confirmation hearing in July 2007. (Dayna Smith for the Washington Post)

To say that Michelle Rhee and Kevin Johnson rolled out their relationship carefully is an understatement. Last winter, the D.C. schools chief declined to say whether she and the mayor of Sacramento -- a longtime friend and close political ally -- were dating.

Not even after we saw them holding hands during the inauguration! ("I don't comment on my personal life," she said at the time.)

But seems as though they're officially a couple now. In fact, she confirmed for us, they're engaged.

Rhee, 39, spoke Wednesday night at a Democrats for Education Reform/DC School Reform Now event downtown, and a pretty sparkly thing on her left hand caught the eye of more than one audience member. Seems fitting, since this is a relationship we've largely followed via sightings of the two at various policy-wonk confabs.

They seem to have bonded over education reform. Johnson, 43, is a former NBA star who transitioned into politics as the founder of a charter school -- Rhee served on its board -- before winning his first race last year to become mayor of his home town. Rhee also served on his transition team.

When she was tapped by Mayor Adrian Fenty in 2007 to become schools chancellor, Johnson testified at her confirmation hearing. (Rhee left the board of his St. Hope Academy after starting her job here.)

What next? It's the obvious question for any bicoastal power couple, especially with both careers so closely tied to separate cities. Rhee, who is divorced with two kids, has had a tumultuous couple of months, at odds with D.C. Council members and teachers over her budget cuts and firing of nearly 400 staffers. The never-married Johnson, meanwhile, is still in the first year as mayor and dealing with the drip-drip-drip of one of those annoying municipal scandals (a city employee who allegedly handed out illegal permits to developers).

But Rhee told us she's not leaving D.C. They plan on a long engagement -- no wedding date set, and none envisioned in the near term -- and will keep this a commuter relationship for a while.

By The Reliable Source  |  November 5, 2009; 6:15 PM ET
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KJ? I had NO idea this is who Rhee was dating!

I hope this isn't a pub stunt because a woman that is tearing up DC school systems the way she is getting married to one of the most respectable NBA guards of all time IMO is NOT a good look!

Really, I hope KJ is ya thang bruh...I ain't mad atcha

Posted by: cbmuzik | November 5, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

It was not a simple audience member who saw it and reported it to the Reliable Source. I know who it was and it's a low move to contact the media regarding someone you consider friend!

Posted by: RL67 | November 5, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

KJ!! Come on out to DC and run the point! We'll move Gilbert to shooting guard, you slash and dish to Caron, and the Wizards will finally rule. Forget Sacto -- please start for the Wizards!

Posted by: KidTJ | November 5, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

The article didn't mention that KJ is a graduate of Berkeley. He is not only a great athlete, he is also really smart. Otherwise, there is no way he could have attracted Michelle Rhee's interest.

Posted by: Independent9 | November 6, 2009 12:23 AM | Report abuse

I just fainted after reading this. I didn't know Asian women liked colored men. I thought Ms. Rhee was already married and to a white male. I guess I was wrong.

Posted by: illegalalien | November 6, 2009 1:20 AM | Report abuse

I also thought Rhee was married to a white man. When did she get divorced?

Long-distance relationships are hard. Men have their needs.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | November 6, 2009 2:03 AM | Report abuse

I would say, "So what." except this smacks of a publicity stunt to me. Ms. Rhee is consumate in her ability to promote herself in any way. God knows, she needs some positive press and everyone gets excited about engagements and weddings. Hope the prospective, never-married groom knows what he is setting himself up for. I wonder if she shows the same disrespect for the teachers of his charter school as she has shown for those of the school system she was hired to (so far, deplorably) lead.

Posted by: Frustratededucator | November 6, 2009 2:28 AM | Report abuse

looks like they both scratched eachother's she needed a bit more help and voila engagement it!!!! i must say these two are smart, very smart! after firing a couple more 100 teachers they'll actually set a date. who knows maybe she'll be appointed to lead the DOEd (for US) because of such a good job she's done with the dc schools...ugh!

Posted by: dealer1 | November 6, 2009 3:12 AM | Report abuse

Enough with the cynicism and sniping can't folks just be happy for two people who've decide they want to share a life together????? GEEEZZZZ!!!!!

BTW I'm all for KJ comin to town, even at 43, to give the Wizzzzzards a little help!

Posted by: youngj1 | November 6, 2009 4:52 AM | Report abuse

Hey, wait! Is this the SAME guy who illegally used an $850,000 Americorps grant to "pad staff salaries, meddle politically in a school-board election, and have AmeriCorps members perform personal services for [him,] including washing his car.?"
Then the US Attorney dropped the criminal charges against a Friend of Obama so Sacramento could get stimulus funds?
Don't you guys have Google?

Posted by: parkbench | November 6, 2009 5:15 AM | Report abuse

The best thing about this story would be Rhee packing her bags and going to be with her fiance in California. Rumor has it she's on a red eye every other Thursday anyway.

I agree with several other posters that this is a publicity stunt to deflect from her actions here. Who really cares that she's engaged?

Posted by: southyrndiva | November 6, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

What kind of a moron would think that Rhee getting engaged is a publicity stunt? As if Rhee getting engaged to KJ would change anyone's mind about her, especially those who hate her. It's laughable how silly and paranoid people get, and it says a lot about why D.C. can't get out of its own way when it comes to educating its children. D.C.'s schools and D.C.'s government have been an embarrassment for generations, and the utter nonsense reflected by some of the comments on this board are a good indication as to why.

Posted by: sonny2 | November 6, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I knew it! You go girl! I am very happy for this couple.

Posted by: knjon353 | November 6, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

All I can say is Rhee if you really want to be married, you need to move to California and do it right. Long distance relationships at 40 are a farce. so be true to the realtionship if you are going to do it.

Politically, i will help you pack and hope you plan a Xmas wedding so you can get out of dodge QUICKLY!!!!!!

Some of you are cruel, but quite funny at the same time. I know people that went to Cal when KJ was there. All say he was a nice guy. i could care less if folks think Rhee is ugly or not, and the thought he could have done better. Just marry her and take her away from DC. he11 he's 43 and never married, about to marry a women once divorced with 2 kids that live with their dad. I give them 3-years/4 years max if they actually get married.

Posted by: oknow1 | November 6, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I am an African-American woman and find the highly racist statements (all of them) insulting to all of us. I am happy if they are happy. All we are supposed to do is wish the happy couple the best. Apparently, no one is reading Miss Manners.

Posted by: thinker7 | November 6, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

@illegalalien: "I just fainted after reading this. I didn't know Asian women liked colored men. I thought Ms. Rhee was already married and to a white male."

What is this, 1950? I'm surprised you know what a computer is. go back in your hole, you're disgusting.

Anyway, I don't understand all the hatred towards Rhee. She's the best thing to happen to DC schools, which, if you haven't noticed, are abysmal. fire all the entrenched, corrupt and incompetent teachers and staff if that's what it takes.

Posted by: holykemp | November 6, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: grwall5459 | November 6, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

We know she's been up to something. Because she sure hasn't been doing her job.

For which she is being paid a rediculous amouunt of money!

Posted by: Jaymand | November 6, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations to the happy couple!! ...this was expected by the folks who have been paying ANY attention.

As they say on my block, "Haters gon' hate". I don't think KJ and Rhee are too concerned about the miserable trolls on this board.

Posted by: hoos3014 | November 6, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Well said sonny2...

Posted by: dcdoug | November 6, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

They're a perfect match. KJ never has shown an ounce of respect for public school teachers. Then again, he doesn't show much respect to anyone. He alienates the city council, leaders of the surrounding communities, and he's downright abusive to his own non-profit board members ( if they dare questions his actions. He rather walk all over everybody rather than work with them. Though he calls himself a Democrat, his team consists of the local Republican movers and shakers. And the Americorp scandal is just the start of it. This guy's closet is full of skeletons. Sacramento would be much better off if he headed to DC. I hope it's a short engagement.

Posted by: laurafish1 | November 6, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Well DC, let's get Fenty out of office and she will go to Sacramento! Gas for the broom on the DC dime will be donated with pleasure!

Note of caution: Leave the kids with their father. They are minors and your husband to be has "issues" that are well documented regarding inapporpriate behavior with minor children on more than one occasion. After all, you say you act in the best interest of children.

Posted by: candycane1 | November 7, 2009 6:32 AM | Report abuse

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