by Terresa Monroe-Hamilton | November 20, 2016 2:02 pm
Donald Trump is seriously considering Michelle Rhee, a Democrat and former District of Columbia public schools leader, for Secretary of Education. She has a reputation for being tough and is a proponent of school choice, just as Donald Trump is. She also advocates pay based on merit, not tenure. I agree wholeheartedly with both of those points. The unions don’t and really despise her for obvious reasons. But before going all in for Rhee, you should know she has also supported Common Core and her husband, Kevin Johnson, was accused of molesting a 16 year-old in 1995.
Trump and Rhee met yesterday at his golf club in Bedminster, NJ, where he is also meeting with former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, purportedly being considered for Secretary of State. Rhee backed some public money for charter schools while the DC schools chancellor, from 2007 to 2010. She would be at the forefront of Trump’s School Choice Policy going forward if she is indeed tapped for the position. Rhee is married to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a Democrat, and leads the board of St. Hope Public Schools, a Sacramento-based charter school group.
From Fox News:
Like Trump, Rhee has been a supporter of school choice, backing some public money for charter schools while the D.C. schools chancellor from 2007 to 2010.
Trump’s School Choice Policy released in September calls for his incoming administration to “immediately” redirect $20 billion in federal funds to school choice — in the form of block grants for an estimate 11 million school-age children living in poverty.
“We want every disadvantaged child to be able to choose the local public, private, charter or magnet school that is best for them and their family,” the Trump campaign said in announcing the plan. “Each state will develop its own formula, but the dollars should follow the student.”
Rhee was hired to lead D.C. schools under Democratic Mayor Adrian Fenty, who gave her essentially unprecedented autonomy to change the costly and under-performing city’s school system.
Known as a visionary education reformer, Rhee shot to national prominence after her picture appeared on the Dec. 2008 cover of Time magazine next to the headline “How to Fix America’s Schools.”
But the picture of Rhee holding a broom enraged teachers, union leaders and others who said the image made clear Rhee’s intentions to improve the school system by trying to sweep out the most experience teachers — in her effort to pay them based on performance, not tenure.
It would appear that Rhee and Trump are at odds on the Common Core issue. He has labeled it a total disaster. We’ll see how that plays out. During Rhee’s tenure in the District of Columbia, graduation rates and standardized test scores in math and reading improved. But she increasingly lost the support of parents and others who complained that she made such decisions as firing teachers and principals and closing schools with little public input. Rhee unapologetically fired 241 teachers in 2010, the same year Fenty lost his reelection bid to Vince Gray and she resigned, in what many considered the city’s return to ward politics.
Trump is also scheduled to meet Saturday with Betsy Davos, a wealthy donor, school choice advocate and the former leader of the Michigan Republican Party. Davos has also been mentioned as a possible Education Secretary candidate. She may turn out to be a far less controversial selection than Rhee. I’m not sure that given her husband’s settlement for molesting children and her stance on Common Core make her the best fit for this position.
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