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Posted at 1:00 AM ET, 11/15/2010

Are Rhee and Florida interested in each other?

By Valerie Strauss

The talk in education circles in Florida is that the governor elect, Rick Scott, may be looking for a new education commission and the name that seems dominant in the discussion is Michelle Rhee, who recently resigned as Washington D.C. Schools chancellor.

Sources told the St. Petersburg Times that members of Scott’s transition team are “quietly asking around for names” of possible replacements for commissioner and that Rhee’s name keeps coming up.

Rhee left the D.C. chancellorship last month after her patron, Mayor Adrian Fenty, was defeated, with some people in the city citing Rhee's and Fenty's arrogance as the reason. The mayor elect, D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray, was not a fan of Rhee’s brusque leadership style and the two had a tense relationship.

Rhee, the darling of today’s education reformers, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan, has left open where she wants to take her next professional step

But Florida education activists already are painting a scenario in which she could live in Tallahassee as state commissioner for a few years with the hope that Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and the brother of ex-president George W. Bush, runs for president in 2012 and wins.

Bush has said he doesn’t plan to run but he wouldn’t be the first politician to say that and change his/her mind.

Bush, though no longer governor, remains politically powerful in Florida and has national impact in education issues through his Foundation for Excellence in Education, he has national impact.

Bush and Rhee’s fiancee, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, have worked together on a number of education initiatives. And Bush and Rhee agree on many of the key tenets of today’s “reform:” charter schools and standardized tests. The two are scheduled to appear soon together as members of a panel on education reform at the Harvard University's Institute of Politics.

Some Florida legislators are reportedly talking enthusiastically about Rhee, though members of Testing is Not Teaching, a grassroots coalition of parents and teachers in Florida that opposes the current wave of education reform, has already expressed concern about the possibility of Rhee becoming the state education commissioner.

The current commissioner, Eric J. Smith, said in September he’d like to keep his job, but that doesn’t mean he will. As the Times notes, the State Board of Education hires and fires the commissioner, but “Scott already has one member on his transition team and two positions [are] coming up for appointment in December.”

My colleague Bill Turque wrote on his D.C. School Insider blog recently that Rhee has sent mixed signals about what she will do next. She had long said that the D.C. job would be her first and last shot at running a school system and she recently appeared to say she would not take the job as New Jersey’s education commissioner. But she told The Wall Street Journal that she was in fact considering a job in another school district.

The Florida talk about Rhee may be all pie in the sky. But it it may not be, too.

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By Valerie Strauss  | November 15, 2010; 1:00 AM ET
Categories:  Educational leadership  | Tags:  arne duncan, florida, florida education, florida education commissioners, florida governor, florida schools, george bush, george w. bush, jeb bush, michelle a. rhee, michelle rhee, rhee, rick scott  
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Comments

Does anyone really care where she accepts a job?

Posted by: mbrumble | November 15, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Rhee is not even employed by the District anymore and DC media (not to mention her DC detractors) still can't stop talking about her. Methinks people need to focus that energy on ways to fix DC schools.

Posted by: lipschitzantwon | November 15, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Rhee is THE BEST thing that ever happend to the DC School System. Arrogance is WHAT was needed to make changes, not just in terms of the school system, but in terms of dealing with any DC Government agency. I guess DC workers hate it when arrogance is turned on them, as opposed to them dishing it out.

We are now back to Marion Barry lite with Vince Grey...minus the drug issues, he will be a DISASTER. Grey is hiring all the incompetient Ward 7 and Ward 8 people who did such a bang up job with Marion Barry. Need I say more....

Posted by: thomasdefeo | November 15, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Rhee is THE BEST thing that ever happend to the DC School System. Arrogance is WHAT was needed to make changes, not just in terms of the school system, but in terms of dealing with any DC Government agency. I guess DC workers hate it when arrogance is turned on them, as opposed to them dishing it out.

We are now back to Marion Barry lite with Vince Grey...minus the drug issues, he will be a DISASTER. Grey is hiring all the incompetient Ward 7 and Ward 8 people who did such a bang up job with Marion Barry. Need I say more....

Posted by: thomasdefeo | November 15, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

is this the trailer to a horror movie?

Rhee to hook up with yet another Bush, who may run for President!!! Well, you might as well start making the coffin now because Rhee and Jeb Bush would surely put the final nails in it.

Posted by: oknow1 | November 15, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Where ever that powder keg lands, KABOOM!!! You have my prayers.

Posted by: candycane1 | November 15, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

candycane...I think your KABOOM should be in reference to Grey's choices for the city...the dye-hard cronies of Ward 7 and Ward 8...Marion Barry land!

Posted by: thomasdefeo | November 15, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I remember when people were accusing Rhee of being a racist prior to the news finding out her love interest. It's too bad that the nation's capitol had to get push out the one good administrator (Rhee) by claiming lack of progress.

Posted by: paliceag | November 15, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Sad if a state wants someone with less than 5 years of education experience to lead their education commission.

Posted by: tcbuva | November 15, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

One criminal (Child-abuser; Rhee) working for another (Fraud, homicide; Scott). Perfect.

Posted by: mcstowy | November 15, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

mcstowy,

What do you mean about Scott being tied into homicide and fraud?

Posted by: jlp19 | November 15, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Great, if Scott hires Rhee, she can help him get unelected like she did with Fenty.

Posted by: jlp19 | November 15, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Rhee is explosive. She’s not leadership material with her narcissistic personality traits, loose lips, lack of knowledge, and lack of common sense.

Florida teachers defeated SB 6 and they will defeat Scott if he picks Rhee.

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | November 15, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Rhee is 1,000 times better than her small-minded detractors.

Posted by: fredcorgi1 | November 15, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Rhee’s small-minded cohorts must be profiting financially through various for-profit education schemes using taxpayers’ funds. Stop covering for Rhee and her associates. Follow the money!

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | November 15, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Michelle Rhee is now and has been for quite some time a self-promoter. She touts herself and her "accomplishments," but they are mostly a facade.

Rhee made claims about her extraordinary achievements as a teacher in Baltimore ( see, for example: http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh071107.shtml) , but none of her clams can be substantiated.

While in Baltimore, Rhee worked for a for=profit education company. She saw where the money was. After only two years of teaching (can she possibly be an "expert" after only two years in the classroom? short answer: No), she quit and founded a "non-profit" organization to promote "quality"
teaching. And raised money. And paid herself quite well.

Anyone conversant with test scores in the DC schools knows that the majority of gain scores came from the reforms and initiatives instituted by Rhee's predecessor. During Rhee's tenure, gain scores declined steadily, and some scores decreased. Worse, Rhee touted the kinds of "reforms" that have little or no research substance: charter schools, more standardized testing, and performance pay for teacher based on test scores.

Like the preachers who claim to heal with the laying on of hands, Rhee is a charlatan. Sadly, too many people are willing to buy her snake oil.

Wherever Rhee goes, she'll make herself the center of attention.

But behind the hype, students and teachers and the quality of education will pay the price.

Posted by: DrDemocracy | November 16, 2010 6:23 AM | Report abuse

alwight, alwight....now calm down.....evelly tin is gonna be alwight.

Posted by: SofaKingCool2009 | November 16, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Funny that colleges are all shifting away from standardized tests and going back to letter grades to evaluate students, just as Washington, DC is putting all the emphasis on standardized tests.

Posted by: blasmaic | November 16, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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