March 10, 2010
Gadfly got bored with the deluge of Michelle Rhee coverage last year. But she’s back, this time (or should we say, again) squaring off against AFT prez Randi Weingarten, in an article that offers some insight into the personalities of two power women. According to Evan Thomas and Pat Wingert, these two ladies are nothing less than “the two principal actors on the most important stage in the ongoing drama of school reform in America.” We probably wouldn’t go that far, but their going-on-three-year battle does capture something else: How the two of them sometimes alienate the very people they seek to convince. Both women enjoy the support of large communities--a national teachers union and a growing education-reform community--but Weingarten is known for being imposing, evasive, having a temper, and prone to high-flying (and often misleading) rhetoric, while Rhee is blunt, outspoken, and cold, to the point, some say, of rudeness. (Though Kevin Johnson has managed to win her heart.) They call it a “schoolyard brawl,” and we’re inclined to agree. Who’ll win this death match remains to be seen.
“Schoolyard Brawl,” by Evan Thomas and Pat Wingert, Newsweek, March 7, 2010