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The Gracelessness Of Michelle Rhee


The arrogance of Michelle Rhee is well-known — allowing herself to be pictured on the cover of TIME Magazine with a broom in school is just the most well-known example.

One would have thought it would be difficult to top that, but she did last night after her boss, Washington, D.C. Mayor Fenty, lost the election (she is expected to leave her job as Superintendent of Schools shortly as well). She said:

“Let me not mince words, and say that yesterday’s election results were devastating – devastating. Not for me, because I’ll be fine. And not even for Fenty, because he’ll be fine, too. It was devastating for the children of Washington, D.C.”

Messianic complexes are not what schools, nor any public institution need. Memo to Ms. Rhee: No one is indispensable in any organization anywhere….

Just as many of the changes initiated by Ms. Rhee’s predecessors have been given the credit for many of today’s improvements in the D.C. schools, there is ample reason to believe that schools will improve under her successors.

In fact, the only negative that I can see happening as a result of yesterday’s election in D.C. is that it dramatically increases the odds of Ms. Rhee coming here to Sacramento after she marries our Mayor, Kevin Johnson, this month. Coincidence or not, he happened to announce today the formation of a Broad Foundation funded citywide education organization.

Uh oh….

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. You don’t even need a pencil to connect those dots.

  2. Larry,
    For your sake and that of your colleagues, I hope those dots don’t get connected.

  3. Mr. Ferlazzo,
    I believe that so many people in charge today have messianic spirit that there is a communication breakdown and no room for positive colaberation. She cannot “clean up” schools without a serious knowledge of her community. We all have to keep our eye on things like this.

  4. About half way through your blog I started thinking oh no, she’s coming here to California……………..

  5. If she gets any closer to SF than Vacaville she’s dead meat. There were rumors at one time that she was eyeing our superintendent’s job — we will be so ready to mobilize a blockade at the Bay Bridge toll plaza…

  6. It’s unbelievable what a small, close-knit group these messianic types have become. Larry, I’m sorry. The Foundations have landed in Los Angeles and other places as well. Maybe including Sacramento now, eh? Their tentacles are long and wide.

  7. Pingback: Is the D.C. -> Sacto Connection about to become stronger? | Reflections on Teaching

  8. Did you hear this speech? It is Michelle Rhee describing her years in the classroom, including a time she taped the mouths of her students shut with masking tape to keep them quiet in the halls. When they removed the tape the skin came with it, leaving them bleeding. And this is our paragon of reform?

  9. Rhee assures us that she and Fenty “will be fine,” but that a change in administration will be “devastating ” for the children of DC–apparently because she will not be there to protect their interests. She has said repeatedly that she doesn’t think she can work with Gray because he is not sufficiently committed to school improvement. Yet Gray has supported most of her reforms and, throughout campaign, has consistently refused to take a position on whether or not Rhee will be invited to stay.

    One wonders why Rhee, a leader so passionately concerned about the welfare children, seems unwilling set aside her ego and seek the opportunity to cooperate with Gray “for the sake of the children.” If her departure is “devastating” then she must bear much of the responsibility. She politicized the Chancellorship, demonstrated an level of arrogance that is breathtaking, and seems to forget that she is a public servant.

    Rhee has consistently said “My way or the highway” and, as has shown no interest in working with the mayor apparent, one must surmise that she plans to pack up and hit the road to Sacramento mid-year without staying around long enough to make a smooth transition.

    To bad she’s willing to throw other people’s kids under her personal school bus on her way to greener pastures.

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