Michelle Rhee to Permanently Partner with Florida Governor Rick Scott
Michelle Rhee's going to be spending lots of time in Florida in 2011. The former head of the Washington, D.C., public schools is taking on a permanent role as an informal education adviser for the state's governor, Rick Scott. Rhee is also taking on the Sunshine State as the first partner for her new education organization, StudentsFirst.
In a statement, Rhee said:
Florida is leading the country in areas such as sharing information about school performance, and we look forward to helping Gov. Scott push the envelope in promoting innovative policies, including a focus on high-performing teachers.
Scott has set a controversial education agenda in Florida, including expanding school choice through vouchers, reforming teacher tenure, and adding merit pay. Rhee first joined forces with Scott in December as part of his 20-person education transition team. Scott's drive to change public education, and Rhee's belief that he can actually accomplish his agenda, made Rhee want to partner with him for the long haul.
As for whether the state's teachers unions will have a place in any reforms conversations, Rhee said, "The unions and their policies aren't really of much concern because we're going to be focused on the kids."
Florida Education Association spokesman Mark Pudlow told the The Miami Herald that, along with Rhee's perspective, FEA hopes Governor Scott will also consider the expertise of the state's 170,000 teachers. "We're hopeful the new governor will reach out and talk to everybody involved in education to make the best education plan," he said.