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Former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee speaks at a 2010 press conference.

Meet Michelle Rhee, Leader of StudentsFirst

Background

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Michelle Rhee walks with Florida Gov. Rick Scott during a visit to the Florida International Academy charter school on January 6, 2011 in Opa Locka, Fla.

Michelle Rhee is the former chancellor of the District of Columbia public schools and the founder of The New Teacher Project, which works to ensure that low-income, non-white students get great teachers. Rhee grew up in Toledo, where she attended both public and private schools. After graduating from college, she taught in Baltimore through the Teacher for America program.

Today, she is the leader and founder of StudentsFirst, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “build a national movement to defend the interests of children in public education and pursue transformative reform.”

StudentsFirst’s policy agenda includes working to change how teachers are evaluated and paid; to create high-quality publicly funded “school choices;” and to encourage spending only on policies that advance student achievement.

StudentsFirst is active in several states, including Ohio. In fall 2011, Ohio state director for StudentsFirst Chad Aldis said StudentsFirst would lobby Ohio legislators and policymakers on three main issues:

  • Teacher and principal evaluations in which at least half of the evaluation is based on students’ academic progress,
  • Performance-based pay, and
  • A complete prohibition on seniority-based layoffs.

StudentsFirst lobbied in favor of laws on teacher evaluations that made it into the state budget enacted in 2011. And Rhee herself has made several trips to Ohio, including visits to co-host Waiting for Superman screenings with Gov. John Kasich and to speak at Kent State University.

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Students First, a group looking to improve education through increased accountability for teachers and principals, more financial transparency in schools, and enhanced power for parents, is grading states on their education initiatives. Ohio received an average grade, but fared well compared to other states. StateImpact Ohio sat down with Greg Harris, the group’s Ohio director, [...]

Q & A: Former DC Schools Chancellor Talks Ohio Ed Reform

Michelle Rhee talks with students at E-Prep, a charter school in Cleveland.

Former Washington DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee was in Cleveland Thursday to discuss education reform and her new organization, StudentsFirst. Rhee and her controversial theories were portrayed in the documentary, “Waiting for Superman.” She supports merit-based pay for teachers, the end of the tenure system, and data-driven education reform. Yesterday, we asked for your questions [...]

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StudentsFirst, the group founded by former DC public schools chief Michelle Rhee, has hired the leader of Ohio voucher-advocacy organization School Choice Ohio to lead the group’s work in Ohio. School Choice Ohio Executive Director Chad Aldis will replace StudentsFirst’s current Ohio director, who was actually based in DC. Aldis said: “One of the things [...]

The Washington Post Picks Up On Michelle Rhee’s $35K Kent State Speech

Former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee speaks at a 2010 press conference.

The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss picked up on our Oct. 10 story on former D.C. public schools chief Michelle Rhee’s $35,000 speaking fee for a talk she gave at Kent State University’s Stark Campus earlier this month: How much money do you think Michelle Rhee, former Washington D.C. schools superintendent who now runs an organization [...]

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Michelle Rhee spoke at Kent State University’s Stark Campus yesterday. North Canton Patch reports that Rhee said there really is no single answer to solving education’s problems: What is the answer to education reform? Rhee believes three factors are the focus of reform. First, recognize that there are “unbelievably great teachers doing great things for [...]

Michelle Rhee Speech at Kent State/Stark Prompts Faculty to Organize Counter Event

Michelle Rhee, the former D.C. public schools chief, will speak to a full house at Kent State University’s Stark campus tonight as part of its Featured Speakers Series. In response, the university’s education faculty will hold their own event later this month to present “an insider’s view of education as a profession.” The Rhee speech this [...]

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