Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Education Reformers Turned On Michelle Rhee

Mostly because she sucked:

StudentsFirst was hobbled by a high staff turnover rate, embarrassing PR blunders and a lack of focus. But several leading education reformers say Rhee’s biggest weakness was her failure to build coalitions; instead, she alienated activists who should have been her natural allies with tactics they perceived as imperious, inflexible and often illogical. Several said her biggest contribution to the cause was drawing fire away from them as she positioned herself as the face of the national education reform movement.

“There was a growing consensus in the education reform community that she didn’t play well in the sandbox,” one reform leader said.

Gee, I am shocked, shocked to find out Michelle Rhee was imperious, illogical, inflexible and didn't play well with others.

Now we're starting to get stories of Rhee's hubris not from her "enemies" but her former allies:
And her fellow education reformers tell remarkably consistent stories about their frustration with Rhee and the organization she founded.
 In Connecticut, Minnesota, Florida and elsewhere, activists said StudentsFirst often swooped in with pre-fab policy agendas set by national strategists operating out of its Sacramento headquarters.
Rhee’s state directors then promoted those policies and only those policies, without regard to local needs or political realities, according to activists who tried to work with them. In at least one case, the StudentsFirst team insisted on pushing legislation that clashed with other state laws and would have been impossible to implement, sources said.

“They’d walk around with a 15-point legislative agenda and a legislator would say, ‘What are your top two on the list?’ and they would say, ‘Nope, we need all 15,’ — so then they got zero,” one activist said. “They were policy purists in a way that made them seem oblivious to political reality.”

An education reform leader familiar with her tactics said Rhee made audacious demands of potential backers — once asking for $50 million from a single donor. (She got $1 million, this source said.)

That's Oprah's "warrior woman" in crystallized form - her way or the highway.

So, she's been told "Hit the highway!"

What more will we learn about Michelle Rhee now that the education reformer knives are out for her?


  1. Have to say this as a man who worked in a very female dominated profession. Women who were brought up in patriarchal cultures (even a generation or 2 removed from the homeland) tend not to have been socialized in a way which might lead them to become effective organizational leaders.There tends to be a compensatory overbearing quality to their dealings with people. And if Education is not a peoplecentric profession, I don't know what is.

    1. That's an interesting point, one I want to give some thought to. The ironic thing is that many ed deformers cheered when she pulled her sociopathology on teachers and schools but didn't like it so much when she pulled it on them!