Former Washington D.C. public schools chancellor, Michelle Rhee, is reportedly on President-Elect Donald Trump’s short list to be the next education secretary.
Rhee, who is the daughter of South Korean immigrants, is considered a hero of the education-reform movement and has reportedly been eyed as a possible nominee to take over the Education Department when Trump is sworn into office. Charter school executive Eva Moskowitz and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson were also in the running, according to The Washingtonian.
Carson announced Tuesday that he will not jump onboard Trump’s administration saying that he has little government experience, so why he ran for president is anyone’s guess. Moskowitz also declined the cabinet position.
During her tenure as chancellor of the D.C. school system, Rhee promoted public-charter institutions, private school voucher programs, and negations with the Washington Teachers Union, which represents nearly 5,000 city teachers.
She stepped down in late 2010 and founded StudentsFirst, a non-profit organization that works on education reform. The 46-year-old then advised Governor Rick Scott of Florida on education policy before leading St. Hope Public Schools network founded by her husband, Sacramento, California Mayor Kevin Johnson.
St. Hope landed in hot water after it was found that it misappropriated federal money.
Rhee is looking like a strong possibility for the cabinet job as Johnson’s term for mayor ends in December.
Rhee, a lifelong Democrat, has also become “Public Enemy No. 1” of the teachers’ unions for supporting Common Core, a set of federal education standards opposed by many conservatives, including Trump, who has promised to abolish it in his first 100 days in office, Daily Mail reported.
He plans to replace Common Core with the School Choice and Education Opportunity Act, which would increase federal funding for school vouchers and charter schools, and also increase college affordability.
Teachers unions and their supporters have also nicknamed Rhee as the “Wicked Witch.”
Conservatives are conflicted with the potential choice for education secretary, but Rhee has earned some support due to her history of backing School Choice and fighting the teachers’ unions.
In D.C., she worked under former Mayor Adrian Fenty, who supported the push for stronger teacher accountability standards, including basing teacher pay on student performance and putting an end to the tenure system.
Even though the standardized test scores of students had a significant jump during Rhee’s tenure as chancellor, her opponents claimed the results were all due to “widespread test fraud.”
President-Elect Trump is also making other appointments to his cabinet, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who still has to deal with the Bridgegate scandal that convicted two of his former aides, Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly. Vice President-Elect Mike Pence has replaced him as head of the transition team. Townhall reported that Rudy Giuliani is rumored to be in the running for Secretary of State, while Republican Senator Jeff Session of Alabama is a possible choice for Defense Secretary or Attorney General.