Federal Opinion

Michelle Rhee and Politics Don’t Mix

By John Wilson — October 02, 2012 2 min read
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It has been my observation that when Michelle Rhee engages in politics, she comes across as naive at best and, at worst, undermines the candidates she says she supports. I listened to her on talk shows during the Democratic Convention and then read her ensuing op ed pieces. While she positions herself as knowing everything about education and an expert on the political scene, I don’t see it that way. I thought I would provide her a few lessons in Politics 101. Who knows? Maybe she can learn something.

Lesson One: Learn from your past mistakes. You do remember Adrian Fenty, don’t you? While some blamed you for his loss as Mayor of Washington, D.C., others said your public endorsement was a wash. I think that your inability to be respectful and responsive to the Black community exacerbated his political weakness. You don’t help your candidates by undermining their loyal constituencies. If that is not clear, let me say it this way: You will not help the re-election of President Obama by bashing teachers and their unions.

Lesson Two: You do not attend a major political party’s national convention to be a divider. Here I can speak as a veteran delegate to several conventions. People who attend these conventions are the “base” of the party. Events are about common good and unity in an effort to support the core beliefs and vision of the party’s nominee for President of the United States. In the case of the Democratic National Convention which you attended, you apparently did not notice how elected leaders always talked about the value of formerly disparate voices speaking as one. Have you not noticed how President Obama talks about working with both management and unions and that he did so even during the Chicago strike? Collaboration is a real process that brings about real results.

Lesson Three: Trust matters. Because of your collusion with Republican governors and legislatures to do harm to public schools, teacher rights, and community interests, your trust level with Democrats is very low. Democrats like early childhood education, smaller class sizes, the middle class, and civil rights. Become an advocate for what matters in a stronger America.

Lesson Four: Do not try to raise funds and support for your controversial non-profit on the coattails of a candidate you say you support. It is not about you. It is about doing everything possible to re-elect President Obama.

Some people thrive in the political world while others should stay out of the fray. If she can’t master these lessons, Michelle Rhee should stay out of the political spotlight.

The opinions expressed in John Wilson Unleashed are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.