Friday, March 29, 2013

It Depends on What the Meaning of the Words 'Public School Parent' Is

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 10:12 AM

From the left coast, a note from the Los Angeles Times on Michelle Rhee's habit of getting evasive when it comes to whether she is a "public school parent."

In this case, Rhee's spokeswoman, Erin Shaw, told the paper that Rhee was a "public school parent."

So The Times reported that Rhee's two children attend public school. After the story ran in Wednesday’s newspaper, one of Rhee’s biggest critics, the American Federation of Teachers, challenged that statement, saying that one of her daughters attends a private school in Tennessee, where her ex-husband lives.

The Times asked Rhee's spokeswoman again about what type of school Rhee's children attend.

Shaw declined to answer the question directly. Instead, after multiple emails and phone calls from Times reporters, she issued a statement apologizing for “misleading” the newspaper with her initial response.

“It was not our intention to be misleading. It is our policy not to discuss where Michelle's children attend school out of respect for their privacy,” the statement says. “While it is true Michelle is a public school parent, we understand how that statement was misleading, and we apologize to the Los Angeles Times.”

Asked whether those remarks indicate that at least one of Rhee's children attends private school, Shaw again declined to answer.

They go on to cite an interview with our colleague Andrea Zelinski at The City Paper, in which Rhee herself said she was a "public school parent" but declined to clarify any further. We noted here at the time that education historian and commentator Diane Ravitch had caught wind of the interview and claimed that one of Rhee's children goes to Harpeth Hall, a private school for girls here in Nashville.

Note (11:00 a.m.): If you're just tuning in, Michelle Rhee is the former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor who now heads up the education advocacy and lobbying organization StudentsFirst, through which she has supported a number of pro-voucher, pro-charter school candidates in Tennessee and elsewhere.

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