Michelle Rhee-branded, But Still Promoting Crap
If I had to choose one individual for the title of Most Polarizing Educationist, that person would certainly be Michelle Rhee.
(You know– educationist— the genuine article, like the Rolexx watch or Louis Wuitton handbag.)
Though Rhee has received much press in venues including Time, the Harvard Political Review, the Washington Post, and the New York Times for being “polarizing,” the problem with being polarizing is that those with influence might like to read about you and talk about you, but because they are mindful of their own career climbing (as many educationists and politicians tend to be), they won’t want to be closely identified with you.
Sure, in your only year as the single teacher in the classroom, you might tape children’s mouths and cause them to bleed— and later joke about it to a group of first-year teachers– and never be called to answer for such behavior. Or, you could start your own Teach for America-styled nonprofit and be catapulted into the spotlight as– of all things– a chancellor of schools. But then, things become more complicated as you deliver on your No Excuses, Fire the Teachers Who Don’t Deliver Pre-determined Test Score Gains in a manner that warrants criminal investigation– and no serious investigation happens, even years later. And you might even follow-up that “polarizing” stint as chancellor by starting your second nonprofit and brag that it will raise one billion dollars in its first year.
Not every educationist-supporter will support a polarizing educationist.
Whatever is Michelle the Polarizing Agent to do?
First, she might turn to her scandal-embroiled husband, former NBA star-gone-mayor, Kevin Johnson, and be reinstated as a board member of the St. HOPE Public Schools in Sacramento.
And if that is not enough, she might follow the educationist-product-promoting advice and rebrand.
Shake off that polarization, not with a “new Rhee” really, of course, but with the veneer of a “new Rhee.”
Enter Michelle A. Johnson.
Next, Michelle A. Johnson must be willing to exit “her field” of educationism for, say, lawn and garden care.
That’s right: Rhee is ditching her name (at least when it serves her to do so) and is also planning to forego her CEO-ship of the struggling StudentsFirst.
A new Rhee– now a “non-Rhee”– on a new board, where the manure she’ll be shoveling in the name of “change agent” board member will be figurative for a company where dealing in fertilizer is literal:
MARYSVILLE, Ohio, Aug. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (NYSE: SMG), the world’s leading marketer of branded consumer lawn and garden products, announced that Michelle A. Johnson has been named to its Board of Directors, effective immediately.
“Michelle is an innovator, a change agent and has clearly helped shape the national dialogue in her field,” said Jim Hagedorn, chairman and chief executive officer. “We look forward to her bringing a unique perspective to our Board that will help shape our thinking and make Scotts a stronger and smarter company as we look to the future.”
Johnson is the CEO of Sacramento-based StudentsFirst, which she founded in 2010, a bipartisan grassroots movement aimed at making sure all kids have access to great teachers and schools. She is also the former chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools.
She graduated from Cornell University in 1992, and went on to join Teach for America. Johnson subsequently spent three years as a teacher at Harlem Park Elementary in Baltimore.
She went on to earn her Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, after which she launched The New Teacher Project, where she was chief executive officer and president. In 2007,Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty appointed Johnson to be the city’s schools chancellor.
She is from Toledo, Ohio and currently resides in Sacramento, California. Johnson currently serves on the board of The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems, a nonprofit organization that prepares system-level leaders in public K-12 education.
Johnson will serve on the Company’s Compensation and Organization and Innovation and Marketing Committees, with a term that expires in 2015. [Emphasis added.]
What in the world would the Scott’s Miracle Grow CEO see in Michelle Rhee… uh… Michelle A. Johnson?
Unfeeling, No Excuses downsizing and restructuring agent.
Rhee/Johnson is able to callously sever an underling’s employment. She can even invite a camera crew to film her firing a principal— demonstrating her ability to objectify human beings in their most vulnerable moments.
And Scott’s Miracle Gro has had a rough couple of years, with record “slow” 2013 and 2014 springs cutting into its profit margins according to its August 5, 2014, third quarter earnings call.
They have had to “say goodbye to some old friends.”
Scott’s CEO Jim Hagerdorn refers to “the team”– but it is clear that “team members” are dispensable in an effort to “return more cash to shareholders”:
Over the past several months, we’ve aggressively attacked our expense structure. We’ve made some tough decisions and parted company with some old friends and talented co-workers. … They were the best decisions for the long-term of this business.
Hagerdorn continues by noting Scott’s profits are just above breaking even.
As Columbus Business First reporter Tom Knox reports, Scott’s spokesman Jim King stated that Rhee/Johnson “will help Scott’s think through broad organizational issues.”
Look out, Scott’s employees:
“Michelle A. Johnson” or no– you’re about to learn what it felt like to be a 2007-10 DC teacher.
The numbers matter. Not you.
Like my writing? Read my newly-released ed “reform” whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education
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