Michelle Rhee Moves To TN, Praises Legislature, Endorses Vouchers

Michelle Rhee, described as “a rock star of education reform,” has moved to Nashville and on Sunday made a speech in Memphis with Mike Morrow on hand to report that, among other things, she praised the state Legislature and endorsed school voucher programs == such as one that would be created in Tennessee under a bill that passed the state Senate last legislative session but failed in the House.
Rhee, former chancellor of Washington D.C. schools and founder of StudentsFirst, a reform-minded education organization…. has moved to Nashville so her two daughters can be close to their father, Tennessee’s new education commissioner, Kevin Huffman. The girls will go to school in Nashville.
But Rhee will spend only half of her time in Nashville, with plans to spend the other half in Sacramento, where her fiance lives. Rhee is most noted for her time as head of the D.C. school system, although a published report early this year by USA Today raised questions about the authenticity of some academic gains on her watch.
The two daughters were with Rhee as she spoke to the Southern Legislators Conference, a meeting of legislators from several states, with an audience of about 150 people.
She even used the two girls to make her point about competitiveness. She said her girls have trophies and ribbons galore to show for their participation in soccer. But how do they actually perform on the field of competition?
“They suck,” Rhee said, getting no visible objection to that assessment from the girls, who sat halfway back in the room. She said kids have lost the spirit of competition and that the nation has to regain that in education.
Rhee used the example to get the point across that the idea that everyone performs well is not a healthy way to approach education. Rhee was highly complimentary of the education reforms the Tennessee General Assembly enacted this year, which included tenure reform, charter school expansion and a new way of negotiating with teachers that dramatically reduces the power of the big teachers union.
“I think they made tremendous progress this last year,” Rhee said of the Legislature after her speech. “We had very close partnerships.”
“We feel heartened by the progress that was made in the Legislature in this last session. We also know a lot of those legislators are really interested in continuing to push aggressive reforms next session, so we’re very much looking forward to continuing working with them.”
Rhee dived right into partisan politics and explained she was a Democrat and once held all views one might expect in order to fall into the party line, including opposition to school vouchers. She changed her mind on that.
“Because of partisan politics I really believed that vouchers were not a good thing and that we shouldn’t even ever discuss them,” she said. “That all changed when I became the chancellor of a school district in D.C. and we had a publicly funded voucher program in the city.”

Note: Morrow;s TNReport article is accompanied by videos from Rhee’s speech and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s commentary.

3 thoughts on “Michelle Rhee Moves To TN, Praises Legislature, Endorses Vouchers

  1. candycane1

    Well if you hear your mother say,”They Suck” in front of an audience,then for the children’s sake I’m glad they will be near their father. They need one parent who will be encouraging. If she does that to her own children, imagine how everyone else’s children in DC were made to feel when she arrived. Gee! No mother of the year award for this one.

  2. parismi

    I find her comments about participation awards refreshing. So telling our children that they are good in areas where they are not very accomplished is a good thing? As Americans we are told that we are good at things where we “suck” all the time. How is that working out for us in Iraq, and Afganistan? or How about our healthcare system that is the “greatest in the world” or our ability to re-build a gimmick free economy that can also sustain the environment. The boom we saw in the .com get rich quick schemes and with the mortgage scams were ununearned trophies. Our children and citizens all need to be told some blunt truths by our pols. Obama promised to be a truth teller but no one seems to want to hear it. I guess we prefer the unearned particiation awards that are quickly becoming our new national past time.

  3. Oberon123

    We here in DC were awfully happy to see her butt go out the door. The woman is a union buster, plain and simple. So glad to have gotten rid of her.

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