Student Well-Being

Michelle Rhee’s Olympic-Themed StudentsFirst Ad Rankles Educators

By Bryan Toporek — July 24, 2012 1 min read

StudentsFirst, the education advocacy group founded by former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, unveiled an advertisement this weekend that’s been drawing criticism from educators ever since, reported my colleague Liana Heitin on EdWeekTeacher’s Teaching Now blog yesterday.

The ad, which you can watch below, features an overweight man in a “USA EDU” shirt flailing while attempting a gymnastics routine. The accompanying commentary includes quotes such as, “It appears the once-proud U.S. program has been relying too much on its reputation,” and, “Wow. This is an embarrassment,” referencing how far the United States has fallen in terms of global academic achievement.

By the time Rhee went on Meet the Press Sunday to preview the video, blogger Gary Rubinstein had already posted a critique of the ad, which has been making its way around social networks the past few days.

As you’ll see, Rubinstein wasn’t the only educator to take issue with the video. Here’s a sampling of some other disgruntled educators’ opinions taken from recent Twitter postings:

I encourage @BarackObama and@OFA_FLto look at the disgraceful Students First ad set to air during the Olympics.Demoralizes the nation. — Rita Solnet (@ritacolleen) July 22, 2012

This video is a new low. @DianeRavitch @m_rhee: On @meetthepress this am- see the new ad I previewed:studentsfirst.org/olympics #edreform — Joshua Starr (@mcpssuper) July 22, 2012

Very #tacky ad for education reform by Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst.I expected a classy professional approach!!bit.ly/MAVoeh — JimG (@Jim2347) July 24, 2012

Students and teachers alike should be outraged at how the latest StudentsFirst commercial portrays them. #edreform #edchat Pt1 — Nikkol Bauer (@NikkolBauer) July 23, 2012

EdWeekTeacher blogger Anthony Cody also voiced his displeasure with the video as a comment on Liana’s blog post, calling the ad “insulting to our schools, and to our intelligence.”

To StudentFirst’s credit, not

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.