If you haven’t already seen this today, Michelle Rhee played a role in passing an anti-union bill in Tennessee. She co-authored an op-ed with Former Republican Senate Leader Bill Frist. The bill is pretty broad and eliminates collective bargaining for teachers. Rhee’s ex-husband, whom she is close to, was recently appointed by the Governor as the state commissioner of education. This is her bill and should be seen/exposed as such. This is a good chance to review Rhee’s record on the national stage for the last six months.
Although Michelle Rhee has gained fame for her tenure as a DC School Chancellor under Democratic Mayor Adrien Fenty, her record and policy positions are very right wing. Since her resignation as Chancellor, she has travelled the country appearing with Republican Governors and advocating for anti-union policies. She has also been nominated for right wing awards and embroiled in local scandals. Here is a rundown of some of her recent activity:
Wisconsin – Republican Governor Scott Walker ignited the current anti-union push with a budget that cut state worker pay, eliminated collective bargaining rights for public employees, and contained other measures to weaken unions.· Rhee appeared on Fox News in support of Walkers plan to limit bargaining rights for teachers.
· Rhee appeared on a local news channel where she said that teachers losing their right to collective bargaining is the beginning of something very important.
[NOTE: Rhee's organization is now disavowing her Walker support but here is an item from Diane Ravitch:
Rhee has been standing by the side of every Tea Party governor as they cut the budget for public education, stripped teachers of any job protection, and expanded vouchers and charters. So far as I know, she does not deny accepting an award, with Scott Walker, from the far-right, anti-public school group called American Federation for Children.
Ohio – Republican Governor John Kasich pushed through SB 5, which is expected to face a ballot referendum. The bill severely limits collective bargaining rights for public employees, including teachers.· Rhee’s organization, Student’s First, lobbied on behalf of the bill.
· Rhee appeared with Governor Kasich for a screening of the debunked “documentary” Waiting for Superman
Florida – Republican Governor Rick Scott’s anti union policies have tanked his approval rating. Recent polls have shown him to be the least popular governor in the country. One of Scott’s first actions was to appoint Rhee and advisor for education policy. She has also teamed with former Republican Governor Jeb Bush on education issues.· Rhee advises Rick Scott
New Jersey – Republican Governor Chris Christie made overtures to Rhee after she quit as DC School Chancellor. She has also expressed support for his budget cutting policies.· Christie woos Rhee
· Rhee appeared on Fox News to support Christie’s budget cuts
Indiana – Republican Governor Mitch Daniels joined forces with Michelle Rhee to support a school voucher bill.· Rhee appears at a rally for the voucher bill.
· Rhee’s appearance at the rally coincides with a cheating scandal in DC
Nevada – Republican Governor Brian Sandoval recently met with Rhee and she supports his education policies.· Rhee states: "I feel very, very strongly that on the policy side the governor is absolutely pushing the right (education) agenda and the right set of policies that have the ability to create the right foundation and to put the state on a different trajectory moving forward."
Right Wing Awards – Rhee has been nominated for right wing awards for her fairly partisan, anti-union efforts.· Rhee was nominated for an award by the Sam Adams Alliance. The two other nominees were Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and anti-gay Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
· The right wing American Federation for Children hosted a policy summit in DC, where they gave awards to Michelle Rhee, Scott Walker and Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett. AFC is AFC is a Koch and Devos funded organization focusing on school vouchers
Cheating scandal – In the midst of her crusade against teachers, Rhee was embroiled in a cheating scandal. USA Today released a report stating that many DC public schools has abnormally high wrong to right erasures on standardized tests. Rhee was aware of the problem but declined to act.· Rhee embroiled in scandal
· Local groups called for an investigation