Rhee to aid incoming Fla. governor on education

By Nick Anderson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 3, 2010; B01

Former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee has joined the education transition team of Florida Gov.-elect Rick Scott, according to a statement from the Republican's office.

Rhee's three-year tenure as leader of schools in the nation's capital ended in October, after Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) lost his bid for reelection.

Fenty named her to the post in 2007 after he took control of the city schools. She became a polarizing figure in the District and in much of the education world, revered by some as an aggressive reformer and reviled by others as insensitive to teacher and community concerns.

She closed many schools and fired or laid off hundreds of teachers. She also presided over rising test scores and reached an accord with the teachers union that launched a new performance pay system and reduced seniority rights.

The statement from Scott's office described Rhee as a nationally "recognized education reformer" who will "help him find innovative ways to create a new education system for a new economy."

The statement did not make clear what Rhee's responsibilities will be, beyond advising the governor-elect on innovations, cost-saving opportunities, success stories from other states and other potential education improvements. It also did not say whether she will move to Florida to help Scott, or how long her duties will last.

Rhee was listed ahead of 17 others on Scott's education transition team.

"I am happy to be of service to Governor Elect Scott and the state of Florida," Rhee said in a statement. "When it comes to improving our schools for our children, I will work with Democrats, Republicans, Independents and people who have general interest in making schools great for our children."

Scott was elected last month to succeed Gov. Charlie Crist (I), who had quit the Republican Party to make an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate.

Florida, with one of the nation's most closely watched school systems, won a $700 million Race to the Top grant from the Obama administration to improve education. Crist vetoed a bill this year that would have expanded teacher merit pay.

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