What Michelle Rhee doesn’t want you to know

What’s good enough for other people’s kids apparently isn’t good enough for the daughter of Michelle Rhee.

As The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss reports, one of education reform advocate Michelle Rhee’s daughters apparently attends an elite prep school for grades 5-12 that charges tuition of upwards of $20,000 a year. On one level, the hypocrisy is hardly shocking. Elites tend to educate their little darlings at ritzy private schools, where they can mingle with the scions of other elites. This happens even when said elites are public servants (which Rhee is no longer — though the same cannot be said of her daughter’s father, who is Tennessee’s commissioner of education).

Still, Rhee is famous for her zealous advocacy of what Strauss calls “a corporate-based school-reform agenda that uses standardized test scores as the major accountability measure for students, schools and teachers.” Yet her daughter goes to a progressive school that takes a very different approach, emphasizing small classes and educating “the whole child.” It sounds very nice, actually.

But the hypocrisy here really is rich. Worse still is the way she’s handling it. First, her spokesperson misleadingly announced that Rhee is “a public school parent” (because one of her kids goes to a public school. But the point is, the other doesn’t!) Now her representatives are clamming up entirely, saying, “It is our policy not to discuss where Michelle’s children attend school out of respect for their privacy.” But as Strauss points out, Rhee frequently speaks about her children in public.

This is a minor piece of dishonesty compared to the other scams Rhee has been involved in. But the clear “dogs won’t eat the dog food” inference that can be drawn here is damning. Would you buy for your kids the product that Michelle Rhee is trying to sell?

Kathleen Geier

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee