A Spoiler for Frontline’s Michelle Rhee Documentary

Jose Vilson Jose

Michelle Rhee

Michelle Rhee

A bunch of my friends have already started posting up the trailer for Frontline‘s documentary on Michelle Rhee entitled The Education of Michelle Rhee (PBS, starting January 8th, check your local listings). Honestly, I’m not watching it. Most people get a benefit of a doubt, but Rhee’s earned nothing but doubt from me. Her videotaped firing of a principal when she was the Chancellor of Washington, DC schools was only the first of many things I started to find out about her that would / should offend anyone interested in true education reform, not the corporatist thinking we currently have at work.

Besides, I can’t possibly see Frontline going after Democrats for Education Reform’s darling.

If you don’t believe me, here’s a spoiler for the documentary that I got from an exclusive source:

Frontline: “Thanks for coming, Michelle.”
Rhee: “Thanks for having me.”
FL: “Now, you were the head of DC schools for a number of years. How was that?”
Rhee: “Good. Successful.”
FL: “Great. Glad to hear. You’ve left since then, and are now on the road as the founder for StudentsFirst. Let me ask you a question: Is your organization really StudentsFirst.”
Rhee: “Of course! It says it right there in the name!”
FL: “Sounds excellent. Now, three of the people who helped create the Common Core State Standards, including David Coleman. Is there a relationship between what your organization does and Student Achievement Partners, Coleman’s organization?”
Rhee: “Well, I don’t see anything wrong with it. Plenty of people sit on boards. We all sit on boards.”
FL: “True. True.”

[Segment here profiling the current state of DC schools. Some flashes of the issues. John Merrow sitting in a classroom, glancing around wistfully. Michelle walks around a hallway with a new platinum-encrusted broom and ushers little Black and Asian kids into their classes. One kid says “Ouch.” She smiles, then points forcefully. Merrow smiles along.]

FL: “So now, the question the whole world is watching for: please tell us about the cheating scandal.”
Rhee: “Umm.”
FL: “That’s good. Thank you!”

End scene.

All the people who didn’t like her still didn’t. All the people who did still feel something in their stomach about her approach, but feel it works for Black and Latino kids in DC. As long as Rhee doesn’t work directly with the kids over in the nicer sections of the city, or the world. Frontline won’t press too hard lest they never get to interview her again.

That’s alright. You’ll watch anyways. For too many of us, watching feels like all they can do.

Jose, who feels so good to be back …