Rhee bragged about taping students' mouths shut while she was a Teach for America 'teacher'

In a recent Washington Post audio posting, Washington D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee is shown admitting that she taped shut the mouths of her young students because she could not control their talking while she was working in the Baltimore Public Schools as a Teacher for America teacher. Rhee then laughs about taping her students mouths shut with masking tape and then walking them to the lunchroom. According to Rhee, she tried the tape method after she was unable to keep the little ones from making noise when she marched them through the hallways to lunch.

In an even more disturbing revelation heard on the tape Rhee laughs about when the tape was removed hurting the children and some even started to bleed. Michelle Rhee, along with New York Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and Chicago's Ron Huberman, have been held up by the corporate news media as examples of the new breed of school district executives, the type of education leaders that public schools need to "shake things up."

The audio tape of Rhee's speech was obtained and authenticated by The Washington Post, which until recently had supported Rhee and her methods as D.C. schools chief.

Here’s the link to the audio from The Washington Post:

Rhee's relentless attacks on tenure and public schools teachers in the D.C. public schools have been praised in the corporate media for the past two years. Rhee is also featured as an example of one of the good guys in the new documentary movie attacking public schools and teacher unions, "Waiting for Superman."

After finishing two years of public school teaching in Baltimore as part of "Teach for America," Rhee went on to get corporate sponsorship for a thing called the "New Teacher Project." The Chicago connection? According to CPS, the "New Teachers Project" provided CPS with the studies about how to get the "best" teachers for Chicago's public schools. 


September 24, 2010 at 1:53 PM

By: Duncan Renaldo


First one must understand that TFA's primary motive is the perpetuation of TFA. TFA's second motive and most obvious item of their horrific agenda is to serve as the instrument of destroying the teaching profession in America. They do it by duping barely qualified, inexperienced young people into stepping into America's worst classrooms without any realistic teacher training, and then push them in a data game to enter higher statistics of student growth. If they don't enter the numbers TFA wants to see, they're banished from the program and told to keep their mouths shut about it.

I am not surprised that Rhee abused children. She entered the classroom like many TFA types, without any skills of how to manage a classroom. The fact that she abused children is indicative that she lacks the basic characteristics of what any teacher, good or bad, needs to inherently have. She should have left education at that moment, after reflecting on just how heinous her actions were. There is NO excuse for child abuse.

She is not alone. Charter schools in Chicago are the haven for administrators and teachers who were fired from public positions for reasons not revealed, and there have been witnessed reports of student abuse that have been hidden.

The problem is very large. How does an urban district educate students who are a colloid of different cultures, languages, and values? It is unfortunate that American leadership at all levels has become short sighted.

Teach For America is a bandaid for an abdominal gunshot wound, as America hemorrhages its youth into a puddle of dark futures. The fact that the product of these placebos for educational reform promote people that reach positions of leadership is not surprising, if still deplorable.

Remember that TFA's primary reason for existence is to perpetuate TFA. It does this in a cult-like method. TFA members never leave TFA unless they are ejected. TFA in that sense, is like organized crime. Just like organized crime, you can bet that whatever a TFA member does, it is for the good of TFA. It is unfortunate that TFA has a propensity for hiding the truth and causing much damage along the way. As a TFA program director once told me, "they are relentlessly pursuing world domination". She said this half tongue-in-cheek, but the essence of truth about TFA was still there.

September 26, 2010 at 2:36 AM

By: Paul A. Moore

Rhee... One Child Abuser Down...

One chancellor down, one to go.

New York City Chancellor Joel Klink*, I sincerely want you to enjoy your warm fuzzy delusions about "Waiting For Superman" because they may not last very long. I mean, did you hear what happened to Michelle Rhee? She's plays a "chancellor" just like you right? And she was one of the stars of your movie right?

Excuse my French, but damn Joel, she didn't even make to the big premier yesterday in NYC and LA, before she was turned into a quivering bowl of jello standing next to the man who will fire her soon in DC. If you haven't heard about Sept. 14th in Washington, that mayor that Bill Gates put in charge of the public school system, Adrian Fenty, got stomped in a re-election bid. I mean he got beat like a hedge fund manager trying to steal something from Sen. Perkins there in the Big Apple! Go figure. Rhee, the "warrior woman", campaigned for him and everything.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't she like to mouth the same hypocritical blather you do about education being "the Civil Rights struggle of our generation" while overseeing a thoroughly racist public school system? You may want to retool that Newt Gingrich-ish slogan, paragon of the Civil Rights Movement that he is. It looks like people may be on to you folks. Rhee kind of made it easy. Just before the election she entertained her new teachers with a story about taping the mouths of Black children shut to keep them quiet. According to her, there was blood when the tape came off, but for some reason she wasn't arrested. Would have been off to the rubber room under your leadership right? And I know you are slicker than Michelle, all that CEO training, and you don't have any classroom stories to tell, because you've never set foot in a classroom, except to visit one of your precious charter schools and say hello to Eva (Moskowitz) or Geoff (Canada).

But I digress, because I just have to tell you the most startling thing of all. As a civil rights crusader, you need to really put your ear up close to this essay now. D.C. is broken up into eight or nine wards for purposes of voting. In the wards where white voters are concentrated, four out of five supported Adrian Fenty. I mean Joel, those people love themselves some Bill Gates, some quisling mayor, and a chancellor who will tape those Black kids mouths shut and take a broom to the teachers. But listen, in the African-American wards, where parents actually have their children in the DC public schools, and where the Black teachers replaced by white Teach For America missionaries live, they voted four out of five to run Michelle Rhee out of town!

Joel, you do know that Superman is fictional character? Ironically, he was a D.C. Comics creation. Seems like an omen maybe. You might want to check and see if there's a seat for you on Bloomberg's plane to Bermuda when Superman doesn't show up.

* The misspelling of CEO of Bertelsmann Inc. Joel Klein's name was an intentional act of ridicule and an homage to the long running TV series Hogan's Heroes. My apologies to the family of the late actor Werner Klemperer and his memory for associating him with an unaccomplished bureaucrat like Klein.

September 27, 2010 at 5:33 PM

By: Jack London

Indict Michelle Rhee

Hon. Scott D. Shellenberger

State's Attorney

Baltimore County, Maryland

Dear Scott D. Shellenberger:

The statute of limitations may well have expired in this matter but I feel it is a matter of conscience that this be reported to your office even now.

Sometime between the years 1992 and 1995, a teacher at Baltimore's Harlem Park Elementary named Michelle A. Rhee, placed masking tape over the mouths of 8-year-old students in her charge in order to quiet them. She herself reported that several of the children cried and were bloodied when the tape was removed.

Recently Ms. Rhee, who now serves as the Chancellor of the Washington, D.C. Public Schools, made a stunning public confession of her abuse of the children, albeit nearly two decades after the fact. This is conjecture on my part but possibly Ms. Rhee is aware of the statute of limitations in a crime of this nature. Or that because these were Black children living in poverty, Ms. Rhee feels they could be abused with impunity and the whole thing could be made into the opening joke of an after dinner speech.

Ms. Rhee testified to this before an audience of hundreds of people who will serve as teachers in the District's public schools. Just as a matter of curiosity have you been contacted by any of them? Unlikely it would seem, many of the new teachers inexplicably laughed at Ms. Rhee's cruelty. Maybe just confused white Ivy League kids anxious about having a job and eager to please the boss, you think? A lot of them were Teach For America doing missionary work.

The following link to a Washington Post audio recording of Ms. Rhee's full confession is offered as potential evidence if you should seek an indictment.

Yours truly,

Jack London

September 27, 2010 at 5:58 PM

By: bob


I realize Substance strives for the truth but:

Duncan Renaldo was the Cisco Kid

Jack London?

Are these their real names

September 29, 2010 at 10:01 PM

By: Dc Parent

Rhee Taping Kids' Mouths Shut - It's NOT FUNNY !!!

DC's Chancellor Rhee told Oprah's audience that Baltimore’s teachers were ineffective, but she failed to mention that when she was a 3rd grade teacher in Baltimore she used corporal punishment to discipline her students.

Recenty, Chancellor Rhee told her new Teach for America employees about how she used masking tape on the mouths of 35 children to keep them quiet. She jubilantly elaborated on how their mouths were bleeding and the children were screaming when the masking tape was yanked off. That’s not the worst part.

What’s more repulsive is that the Chancellor of DC Public Schools (DCPS)—Michelle Rhee—and her new Teach for America hires found the story hilarious. Here’s the link to the audio from The Washington Post:

The irony is that Chancellor Rhee made false child abuse claims against 266 DC teachers in a national publication, when in fact she’s the one with the questionable past.

She would have never placed masking tape on the mouths of dogs or children from higher income households; she would have placed them in the “naughty corner,” including Fido.

If this happened to one of her daughters she would have fired the teacher on the spot.

October 14, 2010 at 12:09 PM

By: Joyce T. Mitchell

DC Chancellor Rhee

I was appalled and outraged as I read the numerous excerpts from articles that contained admissions from the DC Chancellor Rhee of having taped the mouths of elementary grade students at Harlem Park Elementary School in Baltimore City. Maryland State law requires and required in 1996 that reports of such abusive behavior be reported to the Baltimore City Department of Social Services immediately, by specified persons including school personnel. It\'s questionable as to whether she could be prosecuted now without witnesses, including the students in question. It is not shocking that the parents of the victims would have known about her alleged illegal acts as well as their right to protest and require an immediate investigation by child welfare authorities.The prosecutor in Baltimore is Patricia Jessamy and not Shellenberg who has same position in Baltimore County.To have allowed her to continue in her present position after her proud revelation to teachers under her supervision was an indictment of the flawed system that hired her.

December 7, 2010 at 2:44 PM

By: flcertifiedteacher

Michele Rhee, duck tape, child abuse

Who's Michelle Rhee's assistant in her new advocacy group? I'm guessing it's this teacher below:,0,1856922.story

Teacher Suspended After Allegations of Duct Taping Student's Mouth Shut

Megan Cloherty, edited by Jason Vaughn

9:32 p.m. CDT, August 27, 2010


The Missouri Department of Social Services is investigating allegations that a first-grade teacher duct-taped a 6-year-old student's mouth shut in the classroom.

"He's scared to go back to school," said Nicholas Ellison, who says that his girlfriend's son, Logan, had a good first day of school at the Della Lamb Charter School. But he says that the second day was a disaster.

"The teacher decided to take it upon himself to take a roll of duct tape and tape his mouth shut and made him wear the duct tape all through class," said Ellison. "One of the teachers helped him take it off his mouth after the teacher said it was unsafe, you shouldn't have it on your mouth, and they helped him take it off. He said Mr. Sterling put it on because he was talking."

Judy Akers of the Della Lamb Charter School says that Logan's teacher, Mike Sterling, was sent home at first word of the accusation and is suspended until the investigation is complete.

"Obviously the rights of the kids supersede anything," said Akers. "(But) we cant just go in and terminate somebody immediately until we know exactly what happened."

The school expects the investigation to wrap up within the next few weeks, but while the school looks into the incident, Ellison's says that his concern compelled him to remove two kids from the school.

The Missouri Department of Social Services is visiting with the family and school on Monday to decide if further action needs to be taken. Ellison said Logan has a history of seizures and the school has that information on file. He says its another reason Logan's mouth should not be covered.

"I think its abuse, neglect, endangering a child's safety and if he was walking down the hall and tripped, how could he scream for help, he can't," said Ellison. "Somebody could have grabbed him in school. He couldn't call for help."

August 12, 2012 at 12:01 AM

By: Yaffa Schlesiger

Ms Rhee audience who laughed at her stories of taping the children's mouth.

Ms. Rhee cannot get away with it.

I was very upset that the audience laughed.

Yaffa Schlesinger

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