Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Posted at 5:43 PM ET, 12/ 2/2010

Rhee joins Florida governor-elect's transition team

By Valerie Strauss

Former Washington D.C. Schools chancellor Michelle Rhee is turning her attention to Florida, where Gov.-elect Rick Scott, a Republican, just hired her as a key member of his education transition team.

A release by Scott’s office singles out Rhee as one of 18 members of the transition team, which is charged with helping him “find innovative ways to create a new education system for a new economy.”

Rhee has received a number of job offers since she left her job as D.C. schools chancellor in October after her patron, Mayor Adrian Fenty, was defeated in a Democratic election marked by charges that Fenty and Rhee were arrogant and failed to communicate with the public about their agenda. The victor, D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray, was not a fan of Rhee’s brusque leadership style, and the two had a tense relationship.

The extent of Rhee's responsibilities in her new role weren't immediately clear, nor was it clear how often she would have to be in Florida for the job.

Scott was interested in bringing Rhee into his education circle as soon as he was elected last month, sources in Florida said. She has been a prominent national advocate for the school reform agenda supported by President Obama, which involves closing failing schools, linking teacher pay to student standardized test scores and other measures.

Florida education activists have been speculating on a possible scenario in which Rhee 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 a national impact in education issues through his Foundation for Excellence in Education. Just this week, he hosted a two-day school reform seminar in the District that attracted big names in the reform world, though Rhee was not one of them.

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 recently appeared together as members of a panel on education reform at the Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.

Follow my blog every day by bookmarking And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our Higher Education page at Bookmark it!

By Valerie Strauss  | December 2, 2010; 5:43 PM ET
Tags:  florida, michelle rhee, rhee and florida, rhee going to florida, rick scott, scott hires rhee  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: A system to tell how your kid is doing in school
Next: Time to pay attention to a reform that works


She will ruin Fl just just she ruined DC. Jesus, Bush. Run, while you can, Jeb. She is no good, baby. Spellings is better to you, trust me. Leave Michelle Rhee to Kevin. Michelle is no good. She will turn your administration into fascism.

Posted by: inickdc | December 2, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: murphinfla | December 2, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Undoubtably, she will provide guidance on how to take students from "scoring at the 13th percentile to 90% of them scoring at the 90th percentile."
Maybe it will happen this time.
Didn't happen with any of her New Teacher Project teachers, nor with any DCPS teacher.

Good luck.

Posted by: edlharris | December 2, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Rick Scott admitted to 14 counts of Medicare fraud and paid the federal government more than $600 million dollars in fines for his fraudulent billing practices. I'm sure he's had plenty of practice turning taxpayer dollars into corporate pockets.

Posted by: teacher39years | December 2, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Two lying thieves of taxpayer money. Both completely unqualified to be anything but criminals. Perfect match.

Posted by: mcstowy | December 2, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

It's is also useful to look at some of the other members of this education committee.
Another name that stands out is Dennis Bakke of Imagine Charter schools.
Here's from a newspaper in Florida:

In Pinellas County, school district officials are dealing with Imagine Schools over its failing St. Petersburg charter. The Times' Tom Marshall recently reported that the school had a deficit last spring of nearly $1 million and pays more than $881,000 to lease a Central Avenue building from Imagine's real estate affiliate — a common arrangement practiced nationwide by Imagine, an Arlington, Va.-based company.

The Internal Revenue Service requires that charter schools be operated by independent boards that act in the best interest of the school, not as fronts for commercial management companies like Imagine. Yet the St. Petersburg charter's board is chaired by an Imagine employee (a company spokesman said he will be replaced) and Imagine's website says "all principals, teachers, and staff are Imagine Schools people.'' Combine that situation with the real estate self-dealing, and its hard to imagine any of the boards at Imagine schools are truly independent.

Google Imagine Charter control for more information.

Posted by: edlharris | December 2, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

A transition committee is by nature temporary. I notice* that everyone else on the committee has a full time job, so it appears that it's a volunteer position too.

So perhaps the headline should be "Rhee lands part-time, temporary unpaid job."


Posted by: efavorite | December 2, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Lifting the cap on charter schools, linking student test scores to teacher evaluations, and shuttering chronically under performing schools are the major components of Obama's Race To The Top initiative along with Common Core Standards that now has 43 states and the District of Columbia on board.

The educational establishment, especially teachers, and double especially teacher unions are sweating bullets on all these initiatives. They are a threat to the status quo, that is, the union's interpretation of business as usual.

Along comes someone like Michelle Rhee championing these reforms and of course she's demonized for all of it. As prominent as she became in three short years she's a threat to business as usual and the unions are doing everything in their power to discredit her along with each of these reforms.

Not to worry NEA, Rhee and these reforms are not going anywhere - except up. A republican followed by a democrat administration over the past ten years have developed these bipartisan reforms and it's about time someone stood up to the stuck in the mud educational establishment which has done little to nothing over the past quarter century to reform schools except scream bloody murder at every proposal.

You go, girl!

Posted by: phoss1 | December 3, 2010 7:18 AM | Report abuse

A transition committee is by nature temporary. I notice* that everyone else on the committee has a full time job, so it appears that it's a volunteer position too.

So perhaps the headline should be "Rhee lands part-time, temporary unpaid job."


Posted by: efavorite | December 2, 2010 11:27 PM

She doesn't need money. Her fiance' is a multimillionaire. If he does well as Mayor of Sacramento for a few terms she could find herself First Lady of California.

I don't remember Maria Kennedy Shriver keeping her full time job once Arnold became a politician.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | December 3, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Condolences to FL. Prepare to have your educational standards lowered.

Posted by: dcparent | December 3, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if she will have to collaborate?

Posted by: educationlover54 | December 3, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

What Rhee needs is a boss to hold her accountable. In DC no one was holding her accountable.

Posted by: educationlover54 | December 3, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Condolences to FL. Prepare to have your educational standards lowered.

Posted by: dcparent | December 3, 2010 10:44 AM

LOL, like DC's educational standards were the shining jewel of the DMV before Rhee arrived. I can't for the life of me understand why DC parents would want to keep under-performing teachers in their schools.

please explain that to me.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | December 3, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

D.C. will continue to be a mess. The good guys will win in the end, but the children in D.C. will never win- because of teachers and parents that just don't care about education.

Good luck to Ms Rhee perhpaps she will move to Newark and help the best mayor in country. Booker 2012

Posted by: CharlesBramlet | December 3, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

DC's loss, Florida's gain.

Posted by: SidelinesObservant | December 3, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Just what Florida needs, a child abuser to consult on education. What, Roman Polanski wasn't available? Not even Kevin Johnson?

Posted by: mcstowy | December 3, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Rhee may do better in Florida. Washington DC is a unique place and the DC government and school system have not been places where change comes easily.

When you add the fact that Ms. Rhee, however sincere, committed and bright she may be, is seriously challenged in her "people" skills, the prospects for a long-term successful realtionship were not great.

To her credit, Rhee shook up a school system that needed a good shaking. Fortunately for her the mayor had her back, but in the long run, her philosophy and approach were flawed.

Undoubtedly there were some poor and even bad teachers in DC and the notion that someone was going to hold them accountable had merit (and still does).
However, the idea that good teachers will be enough to turn around failing schools is a myth. Good teachers are obviously better than poor or mediocre teachers, regardless of whether the students come from McLean, Berry Farms or Boca Raton.

But what really makes the crucial differences in student success is adult (particularly parental) involvement. A school full of great teachers will not make much difference to a child who lives in a broken home where education is not valued and everyday life is uncertain and insecure.

Of course it isn't good politics to put the responsibility on the parents. It is easier to blame the teachers, administrators, politicians, liberals, conservatives or any other convenient scapegoats.
But if you look at the cases of kids who triumph in school in the face of daunting odds, there is almost always a parent or adult relative who provides motivation, encouragement and stability; not just over the course of a year or two, but for the long haul.
When students recieve this type of support and encouragement at home it makes the job of the teacher (even a teacher who is something less than Superman) infinitely more manageable.

Posted by: OlSloaner | December 3, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company