After D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee met with both John McCain and President-elect Barack Obama during the campaign, both candidates tried to claim her as his own. Obama even called her a “wonderful new superintendent.” But since taking over the D.C. school system in June 2007, Rhee has battled the Washington Teachers’ Union for the right to fire ineffective teachers and reform the unions cumbersome tenure rules. While Rhee is a Democrat, she also knows which party has always favored teachers’ interests over students’ education. Explaining why she ended up voting for Obama, Time magazine reports:
She chose Barack Obama because one of her closest friends had begged her to give him a chance. “It was a very hard decision,” she says. “I’m somewhat terrified of what the Democrats are going to do on education.”
So far it appears that Rhee may have chosen poorly:
Obama’s decision to elevate campaign adviser Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford education professor whose positions are often aligned with those of the unions, to lead his education transition team worries the reform community. “The idea that Obama was wholeheartedly behind school reform might have been the triumph of hope over evidence,” says Mike Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington.