Michelle Rhee Keeps the Beehive Buzzing in Minneapolis Speech

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, November 17, 2011

No actual bees were harmed yesterday when Michelle Rhee appeared at the Minneapolis Convention Center yesterday, but a number of hornets’ nests got thwacked wide open.

As a young Teach for America recruit many years ago in Baltimore, Rhee famously swallowed a bee in a desperate attempt to shock her unruly class into silence. The ensuing two decades have been characterized by the same audacity, just displayed on larger stages.

Yesterday, as the featured speaker at a luncheon organized by the Economic Club of Minnesota, Rhee kept an entire ballroom full of politicians, business moguls and educators wholly engaged, exhorting them to simultaneously become more political and cast off partisan orthodoxy when it comes to running schools.

“If we look outside of our parties and just make decisions about kids the way we do for our own kids, it would be a very different agenda,” she said. “It would be an agenda that would put kids first.”

During 20 short minutes, Rhee told funny, trenchant stories about cold-calling classrooms during her tenure as chancellor of the Washington, D.C., public schools, made fun of her own cosseted daughters’ motivation gap and likely left pretty much everyone in attendance flummoxed in terms of where to place her on the traditional ideological grid.

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