Incoming Florida Governor Rick Scott adds Michelle Rhee to his transition team

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December 3, 2010

By Eileen McGuire-Mahony

Tallahasee Florida: Republican Governor-elect Rick Scott of Florida announced a high profile addition to his transition team - former Washington DC schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.[1] Rhee's name is at the top of a list of 17 people aiding the in-coming governor in education policy as he makes his transition into office.

Governor-elect Scott praised Miss Rhee as a "recognized education reformer" and "help him find innovative ways to create a new education system for a new economy." The statement from Scott's office did not explicitly say what Rhee's duties will be or of her position might become a permanent job under the Scott Administration.

The announcement coincides with today's press conference in which she will announce her resignation from her current position. Miss Rhee spent three years heading up the capitol's public schools under Mayor Adrian Fenty, who named her to the post in 2007. In that time, she won praise and scorn on the national stage for her aggressive reforms of the school system.

Michelle Rhee's tenure saw test scores go up and she was able to hammer out an agreement with teachers' unions that trimmed seniority rights and introduced a pay for performance system. She also did not hesitate to fire teachers and close schools for poor performance, moves that did not sit well with some.

Hiring Rhee adds more credibility to speculation that, as Governor, Scott will pass the same merit-pay plan for teachers that his predecessor, Charlie Crist, vetoed. Scott is known to support the idea and Michelle Rhee could bring both the past experience and the national repuation to shepherd such legislation into action.[2]

Miss Rhee expressed enthusiasm at taking on the role and, in a comment likely meant to deflect questions over her move from working for a Democrat to joining a Republican team, said, "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."