T-Party Gov. Rick Scott, Michelle Rhee and her patrons used Oprah's show and a Newsweek cover story to announce the formation of her own shiny new school reform group. Remember how, in 2008 she kicked off her disastrous term as D.C.'s school boss with a Time cover story and the infamous broom picture?
She's named her new group, Students First, but a look at her website will tell you that it should have been called Rhee First. The kick-off is largely the work of her clout-heavy, tres expensive PR firm headed by former Obama white house staffer Anita Dunn working with former N.Y. Chancellor Joel Klein and Rhee's fiancé, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.
The teacher-bashing star of Waiting for Superman ought to make a killing in the new open-market money pit of corporate school reform. Money-magnet Rhee claims the group will raise $1 billion from patrons Gates, Broad and other private corporate sources. That perked up the ears of ever-willing AFT prez Randi Weingarten who invited Rhee to "work with us." It also led USA Today ed writer Greg Topo to Tweet, "So much for money not mattering."
“If there’s anyone who can raise a billion for this, it’s going to be Michelle,” said Joe Williams, the executive director of Democrats for Education Reform, recalling that Ms. Rhee was greeted like a rock star at a political event his group hosted a couple of years ago in Denver. (NYT)But her main cheerleaders are the usual gaggle of union haters starting with American Enterprise Institute's Rick Hess--“She very explicitly is setting out to be a political answer to the unions”-- and Bellweather's (they know which way the wind's blowing) Andy Rotherham--"She’s a charismatic, high-profile national leader, and she’s unafraid to break a lot of china.”
Break china indeed. But remember, it's all about the kids.