Rhee’s “Gravy Train” of Hypocrisy

“Former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee had trouble recalling the names of South Carolina’s ‘key players’ after a quick visit to the State House on Wednesday. But state lawmakers may want to take note of hers,” reports The State (Columbia, SC).

But in a rare moment of candor and even more unusual modesty, when asked to estimate the size of her hypocrisy and dishonesty, Rhee merely gestured [1]:



However, Rhee soon returned to her usual routine—bashing teachers:

Educators make excuses for failing schools, Rhee said. But, she added, “The bottom line is: The system did not become the way that it is by accident. It operates exactly the way it was designed to operate, which is in a wholly unaccountable, dysfunctional manner.

“So when you seek to change that dynamic” – including going after “low-performing” teachers – “you’re gonna have a whole lot of unhappy people on your hands. When you stop that gravy train, somebody is going to be unhappy.”

What does the gravy train in SC look like?

  • SC teachers work in a right-to-work state, no unionization, no real power of any kind.
  • SC teachers work in a state in the bottom quartile of states by poverty rates.
  • SC teachers work within a state scarred by pockets of poverty, a “Corridor of Shame” in which many elementary schools have a poverty index of 100%.

At the Perdido Street School blog, however, just who is riding the gravy train is exposed:

Yeah, there are so many teachers in South Carolina, where the average teaching salary is $46,306.67 a year, who are on the “gravy train.”

And Rhee, who charges $50,000 speaking fee plus first class expenses, is just the person to get those lazy, greedy teachers off that gravy train and of course, she’s doing it for the kids.

Oh, and herself, since she pays herself somewhere between $125,000-$200,000 a year for running her corporate education reform PAC, Students First.

While I have recently re-labeled the current education reform movement Voodoo Education Reform, it appears yet another term seems just as if not more so relevant: Rhee’s “gravy train” of hypocrisy.

Look for it at a state house near you.

“I’m not calling you a liar/ Just don’t lie to me.”

[1] Apparently, Rhee had begun addressing the size of her hypocrisy and dishonesty in early 2013, although her modesty was more pronounced then:

Michelle Rhee, center, former chancellor of Washington, D.C., Public Schools, answers questions after delivering a speech titled “Making the U.S. Education System Competitive Globally” to the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles earlier this year. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / January 31, 2013)



  1. Elizabeth Ruff says:

    As a teacher for 38 years, I was able to exist on my “wonderful” salary only by being married…thus two incomes. The only way I was able to achieve a workable income later as a single mom of two …was to have several other jobs at the same time. Teaching can be a wonderful profession. I love teaching interested people; I love the challenge of teaching those that aren’t so interested. However, I would challenge Rhee to come into any rural SC classroom and make it better…it would not happen in a day, a week, a year. Too much would have to be done…not the least would be to get “well-meaning” outsiders and politicians to let us do our jobs without second guessing us.

  2. Sweethellcat says:

    From a long line a SC educators, but have been teaching in Cali for 15 years. Moved to SC in 2005 to be close to family. With almost 10 years in the profession, and a MA in Teaching, I only cleared $2000 a month. The co-pays on my insurance were outrageous, and I simply couldn’t afford to stay there.

    The district I where I worked was so desperate for teachers that they actually contracted out SPED jobs to Romanian teachers. They would bring them to the US on 2 year temporary contracts, put them up in local housing, and turn over the education of the most vulnerable students to teachers who had no clue how to operate in the complex and complicated bureaucracy of Special Education.

    There is no gravy train for teachers in SC or anywhere else in this country. Michelle Rhee is a phony, a liar, and apparently, a cheater. Every teacher should share the truth about Michelle Rhee, Students First, and the other education “de-formers” with their friends and family. It is time for teachers to take back public schools!

  3. If it looks like a lie, smells like a lie, and obfuscates the truth then it’s a lie.


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