National education reform movement leader and part-time Tennessee resident Michelle Rhee is urging state lawmakers to create a statewide charter school authorizer, adopt a parent trigger law and give vouchers to some students.
A day after Rhee and her organization, StudentsFirst, released a national report card grading states on the policies that promote her reform agenda, and the day Tennessee’s 2013 legislative session began, she announced her state wish list.
After watching the conflict when the Metro Nashville school board refused to approve a charter for Great Hearts Academies, Rhee believes Tennessee should have a statewide charter authorizer. The Metro board refused to grant the charter for fear the operator could not guarantee diversity in its planned West Nashville location.
The controversy was close to home for Rhee, whose own child is friends with the children of many adults embroiled in the controversy that ended up costing Metro schools nearly $400,000, she said. Rhee’s ex-husband, Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, withheld the funds from Metro as a punishment after the board refused to follow a state mandate to approve the charter school.