Rhee: Nothing should stand in the way of great schools and parental choice

Speaking with education reformers by phone this morning, former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee announced her plans to ensure the political climate is friendly to bringing robust change to public education nationwide.

The brainchild of Rhee’s ambitions will be called Students First, a 501c4 nonprofit that she said would be politically active in supporting reform-minded candidates for political office. Just minutes after she announced her news to Oprah Winfrey’s viewers in the Chicago area, Rhee identified four parts to a legislative agenda she said she “hopes to be a gold standard for what policymakers should have in place.”

Those elements are:

  • Human capital: a way to get states and local school districts to remove any barriers to getting great teachers in the classroom, which Rhee said includes getting rid of teacher tenure laws.
  • Choice and competition: making sure the “environment is right for charter schools,” Rhee said, including the removal of any caps to put additional charters in place; Rhee also wants governments to look into creating opportunity scholarships that offer families financial assistance to attend private schools 
  • Governance: pushing for greater mayoral control in areas where school boards are standing in the way of reform
  • Finance: Making sure our dollars are spent effectively

In a Newsweek piece titled, “What I’ve Learned,” Rhee elaborates further on what has driven her next enterprise.

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BY Adam Emerson

Editor of redefinED, policy and communications guru for Florida education nonprofit