Michelle Rhee invites Twitter queries, gets a screenfull

Michelle Rhee’s call this morning at 10:25 on Twitter, saying “I’m around for a bit, does anyone have any questions for me?” was like dumping pretzels on a beach filled with hungry seagulls.

The Twitterverse lit up with questions that came fast and furious, and overwhelmingly from critics of Rhee, the former D.C. schools chancellor and current lightning rod for issues around school reform.

“What are good ways to teach kids cheating is wrong when you’ve been caught doing it yourself?” one questioner asked, referring to allegations of systemic cheating on standardized tests during Rhee’s tenure as chancellor from 2007 to 2010.

“Since your donors include folks that profit from your agenda, how exactly are you helping school kids?” asked another, referring to Rhee’s political advocacy group, StudentsFirst, which is trying to influence education policy at the state level.

“What do you do for fun now that you don’t get to fire principals & teachers anymore?” asked another tweeter.


Michelle Rhee in April 2012. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

“What is your favorite part about being a union buster?” read another.

A posse of Twitter users retweeted a question asking why Rhee doesn’t publicly disclose donors to StudentsFirst.

Only one or two of the questions seemed to be without sharp edges, prompting one person to note “Free bit of social media advice: If you are any more controversial than Elmo, DO NOT DO A TWITTER Q&A. Example: #AskMichelle, right now.”

By 11:21 a.m., Rhee had answered a few questions and announced that the session was over. “Thx for all the great ?s everybody, I’ve gotta run. Will get a few more answers out before I go. Thx again”

Lyndsey Layton has been covering national education since 2011, writing about everything from parent trigger laws to poverty’s impact on education to the shifting politics of school reform.
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