Richard Whitmire's deft and revealing book about former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee chronicles a difficult time in the history of the city's schools, when good people fought hard against one another ...
--The Washington Post
...(those) interested in gaining a comprehensive perspective on Michelle Rhee (the person, not the action figure), or on finding some Waiting for 'Superman'
-like inspiration, would be wise to seek out and read The Bee Eater
--The Education Gadfly
Whitmire's clear and easy-to-read style reveals the often-unreported efforts made by Rhee to reach out to both banks in an attempt to build schools into islands of refuge that would be "good for the students" --Educator Life
... a lively narrative on Rhee's personal history and the political and public policy drama that marked her three and a half years in Washington ...insightful commentary on one of the first pitched battles between the new generation of school reformers and the nation's urban educational and political establishments. -- Washington Monthly.
What isn't as familiar, and sometimes downright perverse, are the many bizarre yet customary conditions under which Rhee operated, which Whitmire portrays in illuminating (and infuriating) detail. -- Education Next.
From the Inside Flap
The Bee Eater
chronicles the extraordinary life and work of the dynamic and controversial school reformer Michelle Rhee. The author delves into Rhee's childhood (as the only Korean American in her graduating class in her Toledo, Ohio school), her first teaching job in a West Baltimore classroom (where she once ate a bee to the amazement of her students), her appointment as chancellor of Washington, D.C. public schools and her launch of Children First, her national advocacy group that draws on the tough lessons of Washington. While the book reveals Rhee's remarkable accomplishments, it also explores many of the fundamental problems in our current education system, the unpredictable politics ofleadership — and her shortcomings.
When Michelle Rhee first arrived in Washington, she found a school district that had been so dysfunctional for so long that many had given up, choosing to blame race and poverty rather than poor instruction. There was no one being held accountable. The district central office had become an adult employment center, a place to deposit job seekers. Rhee was convinced that Washington's inner city students could achieve, but considerable obstacles stood in the way — obstacles that needed removing.
Guided by the principles of outstanding leadership, strict accountability, and the power of effective teaching, Rhee was determined to turn around the Washington, D.C. schools. Her encounters with community politics and long-simmering racial tensions, and her battles with central office bureaucrats and teachers' unions, were so extraordinary that her efforts were featured in Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and a lengthy PBS series.
The Bee Eater holds the promise of educational excellence for today's students and for tomorrow's school reformers.