OAK PARK – Michelle A. Rhee-Johnson is often seen on television networks such as CNN, MSNBC, ABC, and NBC’s Meet the Press discussing the state of education in the United States.
Rhee-Johnson, the wife of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, is passionate about providing children the skills and knowledge required to compete nationally and internationally. That’s all she talks about on these network shows and she does puts her words in action.
But now, Rhee-Johnson is bestowing to the public a bio-sketch of her life, motivations, experience teaching in inner cities, and the rally to leave no child behind with the release of her book, “Radical — Fighting to Put Students First.”
A book signing and discussion for Radical is set for Wednesday, at 6:00 p.m., Mar. 6 in the Guild Theater. Rhee-Johnson will also autograph copies of the book at Underground Books following the conversation.
Rhee-Johnson is the founder and CEO of StudentsFirst, a political advocacy organization for education reform that’s headquarter in Sacramento. She has has bachelor’s degree in government from Cornell University and a master’s in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
In this book, “Ms. Johnson (the mayor formally introduces his wife as),” touches on many subjects, including blessing every children with a quality teacher.
“Half of the book is about my life, my journey in education, and how I’ve come to views I have in education reform,” Rhee-Johnson told The OBSERVER. “The second half of the book is about my vision for what I think needs to happen in this country in order for the public school system to be the best in the world.”
It took Rhee-Johnson six months to write Radical, which is interesting within itself since she spends large amounts of time on the road traveling around the country. Armed with discipline, she carved out time every week when she knew she could work on the book. Rhee-Johnson also used authors’ key writing tool, the K.I.S.S. method (Keep It Simple, Stupid), to complete the book.
“I’ve been on a book tour for about three weeks,” she said. “It’s been like a taxi going one place to another and then another. But it’s been really good. Especially, when I talk to other teachers who have read it. I get their thoughts on it too.”
If anyone who has heard Rhee-Johnson speak, he or she know that she is a ‘no-nonsense’ and ‘this-is-the-facts’ person who sticks by her positions. In contrast, Radical shows the lighter side of the former Washington, D.C. public schools chancellor.
“People who have read it say that it has humanized me a little outside of what they have read in the press,” Rhee-Johnson said. “They now know and understand my motivations.”
Radical: Fighting to Put Students First is on sale at Underground Books in Oak Park. Underground Books is located at 2814 35th Street. For more information, call (916) 737-3333.
By Antonio R. Harvey
OBSERVER Staff Writer