A controversial name has surfaced on the list for Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary — former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee.
Rhee’s name came up Monday night on CNN as a possible nominee for education secretary for the Trump administration, along with charter school executive Eva Moskowitz.
According to the Washingtonian, During almost four years running D.C. schools, “Rhee became a national hero among the education reform movement for her promotion of public charger institutions, private school voucher programs, and brusque negotiations with the Washington Teachers Union, which represents about 5,000 city teachers.”
Since stepping down some six years ago, she founded the school reform group StudentsFirst, which has been folded into another group. She also advised Florida Governor Rick Scott on education policy. She then became head of St. Hope Public Schools, a charter school network which was founded by her husband, Sacramento mayor and former NBA star, Kevin Johnson. The network has been accused of misappropriating federal grant money.
The Washingtonian reports that while Rhee has not responded to requests for comment, Trump’s education policy page, which is all of two paragraphs long, may offer some hints:
“there are some passages that might align with Rhee’s philosophy, including ‘expansion of choice through charters, vouchers, and teacher-driven learning models.’ One thing on which Rhee and Trump diverge: Common Core, the state-based systems of grade-school standards that Rhee has defended and Trump called a ‘total disaster.'”
While Rhee may have some policies that agree with Trump’s, her nomination would be quite controversial where schools and particularly teachers’ unions are concerned.
The President-elect has not often spoken about teachers’ unions, but when he has, it has not been exactly complimentary. In a striking case of irony, union votes across the rust belt for a party that has waged an all out attack on unions are what ultimately propelled Trump to the presidency.