I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Michelle Rhee's Book Is A Huge Failure

A week ago, I asked if Michelle Rhee's anti-teacher, anti-union screed book Radical was a flop. It hadn't cracked the NY Times bestseller list, and sales were not strong on Amazon:

As I said, I know nothing about publishing, so maybe a book like Radical needs time to get traction - even if Rhee has been on a dream book tour that included many national media outlets including The Daily Show, Charlie Rose, and This Week (let's see if Diane Ravitch gets the same bookings when her book comes out).

Well, it's a week later, and Rhee still hasn't cracked the NY Times list. How's her book doing on Amazon?

Oh, dear. I wonder is Harper has a merit pay plan for Rhee, based on her sales; you know, a plan like the one she insisted on for her teachers...

The only reason Michelle Rhee gets any attention is because a group of very wealthy people bought her access to national media outlets. But even with this outsized reach, her message just doesn't resonate. She has no real grassroots support: she is the consummate astroturfer, pretending to lead a national movement that, in reality, has very little parent or teacher support.

She was a mediocre at best an average teacher*, then a mediocre superintendent, then a mediocre, ignorant, and, frankly, incoherent "reform" advocate. Now, she's a very, very mediocre author.

No one should take Michelle Rhee seriously - and, it turns out, no one does.

I hope Harper doesn't want my advance back...

* Some of you will think I'm maybe wussing out here, but I'm going to moderate that a bit. I really don't have many objections to Rhee's second and third years as a teacher (she was clearly unprepared for her first year, by her own admission, but I know what that's like, so I forgive it (even though I never taped my kids mouths shut)). She was, by all accounts, an OK teacher by her third year.

My objection is really to her exaggeration of her record: an exaggeration so large that Rhee should have known her claims were outrageous when she was making them in preparation for taking the chancellor's job in Washington. The only person who seemed to care at the time was Bob Somerby, who was universally ignored by a fawning press.

Rhee's sin at that time wasn't that she was a bad teacher; it was that she only owned up to her record when she was outed by G.F. Brandenburg. To me, that's a far worse transgression.


isthisrob said...

If by "traction" you mean "conservative groups buying the book in bulk to artificially inflate its ranking", then yeah. I'm sure traction is on the way.

Students Last said...

Despite its reception, Ms. Rhee is working hard to promote the book. She's been on several talk shows around the country and has even resorted to engaging in what could best be described as "stunts." http://studentslast.blogspot.com/2013/03/radical-promotions.html LOVE YOU, JJman

ChrisGuerrieri said...

I wish I could say this coupled with Don't Back Down's flop the pendulum was shifting back but then I look at the bills my legislature is proposing and I realize there is a long, long way to go.

Galton said...

As a teacher of second graders, she taped their mouths shut to teach the obedience. When she pulled the tape off, the students lips bled. As a CHIEF, she fired a principal in front of an audience. Her second husband has a history with underage girls that would prevent him from teaching in NJ public schools.
Rhee is the perfect Poster Girl for the reformers.

retiredbutmissthekids said...

Interesting to note that we have yet to receive a visit in Chicago.Could be that she'd see at least 5,000 teachers (+ parents & community) in the streets, here. Also--were any of you as shocked as I was that she was one of the women interviewed as a mover & a shaker in America, alongside others such as Gloria Steinem & Bella Abzug? I missed the first half of the show, but caught the second (while answering e-mail), when I heard a familiar, nasal, whiny voice, glanced at the screen, and did a double-take.
Excuse me, but WHAT was SHE doing in that mix? I guess that would solidify the growing belief that PBS now stands for Privatized Broadcasting Shill.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, she will be on Bill Maher's show next week. I hope Bill let's her have it.

Ajay Jain said...

Michelle Rhee - The famous former Washington DC School District Chancellor


Michelle Rhee on OPRAH


Michelle Rhee on abc's ThisWeek

Michelle Rhee on The DailyShow with Jon Stewart

pbs.org FRONTLINE: The Education of Michelle Rhee

Why Teach For America works - Michelle Rhee

A Two-Tier Proposal for Teacher Pay - Michelle Rhee

Time Magazine: Rhee Tackles Classroom Challenge

Michelle Rhee Discusses "Waiting for Superman," Charter Schools And Sch... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLih24QdwH8

Stanford University: A Conversation on "Waiting for Superman" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xzrjo7Fvs1A

"Radical" Fighting to Put Students First should be a must read for all studentsfirst.org members! Michelle Rhee's new book, "RADICAL: Fighting to Put Students First," is now in stores! For more information about where you can find it, to read an excerpt from the book, and to share your story about education in America visit the official site at http://www.edradical.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/edradical.

Michelle Rhee at the ACE 2011 Spring Luncheon https://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=mO9F-amHDuw

Michelle Rhee and Kevin Johnson (4/20/11) https://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=OCcNzh7C_Tk&feature=endscreen

Michelle A. Rhee 03.17.11 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KD0g8Jb9l78

Cornell Alumni: Olin Lecture 2012: Michelle Rhee '92https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwFD-wkAEi8

Harvard Public Health: Michelle Rhee, Former Chancellor of Washington D.C. Public Schoolshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jH0twXcxNUY

Geoffrey Canada - Conversations at KCTS 9
Geoffrey Canada interviewed by Julian Bond: Explorations in Black Leadership ...

"Waiting for Superman" the documentary and Bloomberg documentary "Risk Takers" Michelle Rhee should a required screening for all studentsfirst.org members. I saw them on Netflix and became an instant member of studentsfirst.org and Michelle Rhee follower.

"Won't Back down" the movie is another example to screen to all studentsfirst.org members.

Share the reasons you fight for education reform. Your story will inspire others to get involved. So tell us: Why are you working to put students first? http://www.studentsfirst.org/facebook-story

Check out today's blog by StudentsFirst staffer Charity Hallman, "One size fits all, or so they said," on The Fordham Institute's "Education Gadfly Daily: FLYPAPER" blog.

To view the Fordham study, "When Teachers Choose Pension Plans: The Florida Story," visit http://www.studentsfirst.org/fordham-study-on-fl-teacher-pension-reform

Watch MAKER videos on StudentFirst Founder Michelle Rhee visit www.makers.com/michelle-rhee

Paz said...

Teachers, Teachers, Teachers.....

All I hear is 'Teachers'......

Sitting in a class with an incompetent or lazy teacher..the encumbent bereft of ideas to make life seem fun......your youth ticking away.....

My God! Who hasn't been in that class at some time.?

and all you can do is demonize her! Shame on you!