Skip to main content

The Bee Eater: Michelle Rhee Takes on the Nation's Worst School District


Out of stock



The Bee Eater: Michelle Rhee Takes on the Nation's Worst School District

Richard Whitmire

ISBN: 978-0-470-90529-6 March 2011 Jossey-Bass 296 Pages

Out of stock


The inside story of a maverick reformer with a take-no-prisoners management style

Hailed by Oprah as a "warrior woman for our times," reviled by teachers unions as the enemy, Michelle Rhee, outgoing chancellor of Washington DC public schools, has become the controversial face of school reform. She has appeared on the cover of Time Magazine, and is currently featured as a hero in the documentary "Waiting for Superman." This is the story of her journey from good-girl daughter of Korean immigrants to tough-minded political game-changer. When Rhee first arrived in Washington, she found a school district that had been so broken for so long, that everyone had long since given up.  The book provides an inside view of the union battles, the school closings, and contentious community politics that have been the subject of intense public interest and debate ? along with a rare look at Rhee's upbringing and life before DC.

  • Rhee has been featured in the documentary "Waiting for Superman"
  • Rhee's story points to a fresh way of addressing school improvement 
  • Addresses fundamental problems in our current education system, and the politics of leadership

The book includes an insert with photos from Rhee's personal and professional life, and an "exit" interview that sheds light on what she's learned and where the future might take her.

Preface v

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction 1

1 An (Asian) American Life 7

2 The Transformation Begins 25

3 Going National 45

4 Welcome to the Nation's Education Superfund Site 65

5 Closing Schools 93

6 Randi and Michelle 107

7 New Hires, New Fires 131

8 Up from the Foundations: The Chalenge of High School Reform 157

9 Rhee's Critics Find a Winning Storyline 171

10 The Mayor's Race 191

11 Lessons Learned 201

12 What's Next? 227

Notes 245

About the Author 263

Index 265