‘Frontline’ will examine Michelle Rhee’s D.C. legacy

December 3, 2012

Rhee (Susan Biddle/The Washington Post)

“Frontline,” the tremendously fabulous PBS news documentary program, will air an episode next month examining the legacy of former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

The episode, titled “The Education of Michelle Rhee” and set to air Jan. 8, is billed as such: “FRONTLINE was granted unprecedented access to Rhee during her tumultuous three-year tenure as she attempted to fix a broken school system. As Rhee returns to the national stage, FRONTLINE examines her legacy in Washington, DC, including her battles with the teachers’ union and her handling of a cheating scandal in the District.”

That “unprecedented access” is the access that was given to reporter John Merrow, who reported a series of long segments on PBS’s NewsHour — including an early episode where his cameras captured Rhee firing a principal. That segment went some way toward establishing Rhee’s image as a tough, unrepentant reformer — an image that vaulted her to national prominence but also complicated and ultimately ended her DCPS tenure.

The episode will air less than a month before Rhee’s memoir-cum-manifesto, “Radical: Fighting to Put Students First,” hits bookstores.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis · December 3, 2012