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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Michelle Rhee Lacks Civility

From the Palm Beach Post opinion page

By Jac Wilder VerSteeg,

What can Michelle Rhee bring to Florida besides confrontation?

Confrontation can be necessary. When Dr. Rhee took over as chancellor of Washington, D.C.'s, notoriously awful public school system, she needed to confront the teachers union, complacent administrators and uninvolved parents. But Florida's schools aren't like those Dr. Rhee took over in 2007. In fact, judging by the measures that Jeb Bush initiated and the Legislature and Gov. Crist perpetuated, Florida's school system has become one of the nation's best.

Dr. Rhee lost public and political support and resigned her D.C. post in October. Cresting on the notoriety she gained in those battles and from laudatory treatment in the Waiting for Superman documentary, Dr. Rhee formed a national advocacy group, This month, the lead item on that organization's website is "StudentsFirst partners with Gov. Rick Scott to reform schools in Florida."

Dr. Rhee said her organization "put our first stake down in Florida" because Gov. Scott shares her commitment to improving teacher quality, increasing school choice and school accountability. But jump to the state Department of Education's Web page, and this is the lead item: "Congratulations to Florida's teachers for their extraordinary efforts in helping the Sunshine State achieve a fifth-place national ranking on the 2011 Quality Counts report by Education Week." That ranking "follows a continuing trend of improvement that has seen Florida move from 14th in 2008, 10th in 2009 and eighth just last year."

Given the "extraordinary efforts" by Florida teachers, why are legislators, Gov. Scott and Dr. Rhee treating teachers like lazy, union-protected incompetents who need to be punished? Confrontation wasn't the right approach on merit pay a year ago. If confrontation is what Michelle Rhee believes Florida needs, Florida doesn't need her.


  1. Dr. Rhee? Where did she earn her doctorate?

  2. Michelle Rhee has a Master's degree in Public Policy from Harvard.