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March 30, 2013 12:32 AM Michelle Rhee, Public School Parent?

By Daniel Luzer

HH

Michelle Rhee is a controversial figure. The former District of Columbia superintendent is now trying to spread her take-no-prisoners-more-standardized-tests-and-bust-the-unions education reform plans across the nation.

This lead to an interesting question. The Los Angeles Times recently asked Rhee where her own two children went to school. Did they attend public or private schools? Rhee’s still having trouble answering this one. According to The Times:

The… Times asked her spokeswoman a simple question: Do Rhee’s children attend public or private school? The response from [Rhee spokeswoman] Erin Shaw seemed clear. “She is a public school parent,” Shaw told the paper in an email.

And so the Times, quite understandably, reported that her daughters, who live in Tennessee with their father, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, both attended public schools. The children famously attended a public elementary school when they lived in Washington, DC, but now it appears they don’t. Or at least one of them doesn’t. After the American Federation of Teachers challenged the accuracy of the Times reporting, the paper asked again:

Shaw declined to answer the question directly. Instead, after multiple emails and phone calls from Times reporters, she issued a statement apologizing for “misleading” the newspaper with her initial response.
“It was not our intention to be misleading. It is our policy not to discuss where Michelle’s children attend school out of respect for their privacy,” the statement says. “While it is true Michelle is a public school parent, we understand how that statement was misleading, and we apologize to the Los Angeles Times.”
Asked whether those remarks indicate that at least one of Rhee’s children attends private school, Shaw again declined to answer.

Oh my God. Stop it. We can look this stuff up.

Rhee’s older daughter goes to Harpeth Hall, Nashville’s fanciest girls school.

Listen, I went to private school. So did Rhee. It’s not a bad thing. It’s not something to cover up. People often send their own children to private schools; that doesn’t mean they’re not committed to public education.

If you send your child to private school, fine, but own it. Why is this so uncomfortable to admit? There’s a reason you decided a private school was best for your child and there’s nothing wrong with it. But be comfortable enough with your life choices to explain why you made that decision. Saying “I am a public school parent” when you’re also a private school parent is misleading, and deliberately so.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer

Comments

  • somethingblue on March 30, 2013 2:12 PM:

    I am shocked to hear that Michelle Rhee's spokesperson said something that wasn't truthful. So out of character! Why, next you'll be telling us that her much-trumpeted success in her brief stint at a real job was based on widespread cheating!