50 Shades of Rhee

A new story in the Atlantic magazine is raising eyebrows with the claim that the Democratic Party is Michelle Rhee’s bitch.

A new story in the Atlantic magazine is raising eyebrows with the claim that Michelle Rhee is taking over the Democratic Party. In other words, the Dems are now the mean mistress of #edreform’s bitch. But like the other great love story of our time, Fifty Shades of Grey, the relationship between the Dems and Madame Rhee  is complicated—not to mention, ahem, transactional. Let’s take a look shall we?

The love that dare not speak its name
The Dems may be hooking up with Michelle Rhee but they certainly didn’t want anyone to know about it at the Democratic convention. Rhee’s favorite reform “props”: firing teachers, charters, vouchers, firing teachers, were reduced to unmentionables. Instead, even reform A-listers like Arne Duncan spouted pro-teacher pablum about how teachers are “professionals” and we should “pay them,” and—I am not making this up—“No teacher should ever have to teach to the test?” Are you serious Arne??? By the way, that sound you just heard wasn’t thunderous applause but Madame Rhee cracking her cat o’ nine tails. You practically just blurted out on national TV that you’re cheating on her! YOU BETTER NOT BE DOING IT WITH THAT DIRTY TEACHERS UNION.

Dirty little back story
There’s a reason why the Dems aren’t exactly letting Madame Rhed lead them around on a leash in public. Not only has her scorched earth approach to #edreform turned out to be universally unpopular with the same teachers the Dems are now desperately courting, but Rhee carries with her a whiff of the dark side wherever she goes. Just like we don’t really want to know what Christian does for a living in 50 Shades (because we’re so eager to get to the part where he and Ana do it—again), the Dems understand that it’s best not to ask Rhee too many questions. Bring up those pesky cheating allegations in DC and Madame Rhee is likely to bring out the duct tape.

Payin’ for it
Behind the scenes though the Dems are falling all over themselves to try to earn the approval of Madame Rhee. What’s at stake? Only an injection of cash from Rhee’s PAC, a murky but increasingly influential force in elections across the country. Here’s how it works. Madame Rhee Inc. sweeps into town flush with customer bucks and agrees to show candidates some serious love—IF ONLY THEY’LL STOP DOING IT WITH THAT DIRTY TEACHERS UNION ONCE AND FOR ALL.

Keeping it on the DLC
Oh yeah, the Dems have it bad. But if they know what’s good for them they’ll be keeping their relationship with Madame Rhee a secret—at least until November. After that, the Dems are back to being the party of subs. The dog collars go on, the whips and paddles come out and they like it. And if it all starts to be a little too much? No worries—the Dems can just use their safe words: it’s for the kids…


  1. That was just the best. Thanks.

    The corporate reformer politicians and billionaires definitely exhibit a sex-tinged, S&M aspect to their adoration of Madame Rhee. One of her supporters (~65 y/o white man) came up to me last year at a protest against Rhee in my town and complained, “She’s an attractive woman, why are you doing this to her?”

    Be sure to check out this additional information about Rhee’s close ties to the Atlantic Media Company’s CEO and his wife.

    1. I expect to see her and Arne out it Chicago leading the counter-demonstrations against that vile teachers union that is insisting on standing up for their rights against the corporate educationists.

      1. Linda, thanks for rimnndeig us about the mouth-taping episode. There is a broad acceptance of child abuse/harassment of inner-city, poor youth amongst ed deformers like Rhee, which I find deeply troubling, if not outright criminal. It seems like Rhee likes this false picture of herself as some sort of teacher of cult-like powers. Yet her supreme confidence ( The Bee Eater ) provides the justification for her atrocious behaviors: mass firings, taping kids mouths shut, pocketing dollars in the name of destroying public education. It isn’t some non-existant cult-like powers that will save poor kids. We need to let go of these cinematic fantasies that we will be that one teacher that will deliver our children from violence and poverty. Food, smaller class sizes, and decent funding might help. But personally, I’m sick of these fairy tales about super-teachers who eat bees, shame principals on camera, and subsequently get caught in erasure scandals.

    2. Rand,You need to show evidence that inmecpotent teachers drop out of the work force more than competent teachers or that making their education more expensive would impact one group more than the other group to support your claim.Anyone that has had any HR training knows a high labor turnover rate is indicative of a systemic problem, and 50% in five years is a huge turnover rate. The rule of thumb is that it takes at least $15,000 to replace one employee in a job that requires a bachelor’s degree. That’s half of a starting teacher’s usual salary.Teachers are not being fired. They do not need to be. They are self-firing through quitting early and normal and forced-early retirements.Do students come to school and have problems or do they bring the problems to school with them? When that question is answered and addressed, there will be many fewer problems.

  2. Michelle Rhee reminds me of so many determined young teachers who think they have THE answer for American education. After 40 plus years in the classroom, the type is easily recognizable. Their certainty of purpose is the key. It actually parallels the certainty of evangelicals. I’m envious because each day some aspect of life that I was once certain about reveals itself in a state of flux. Too much certainty produces an over emphasis on the quantitative and ignores the qualitative. And now we embrace Michelle and excessive standardized testing. What is the world coming to?

  3. Although the dems didn’t put their Ed reform agenda on the front burner at the convention, they did play Tom Petty’s Won’t Back Down to signal that they are not backing down from the right wing, small gov, no oversight, privatization agenda that they put in place four years ago. Watch it build up speed during the second term. Lose lose in November. Meanwhile watch Americans froth at the mouth with their big election win.

    What’s the wine for Election Day?

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