Ever since Michelle Rhee resigned under pressure as chancellor of the Washington, D.C., schools in October, rumors have flown about her next move. Would she relocate to Newark to spend the $100 million gift from Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook to fix its troubled schools? Would she become education commissioner of New Jersey or Florida? Ms. Rhee, one of the best recognized, and most polarizing, figures in public education, answered Monday with timed appearances on “Oprah” and the cover of Newsweek. The media splash said as much about her ability to market herself and her brand of school reform as the details of her next chapter. She announced she would lead a new advocacy group, StudentsFirst, setting a highly ambitious target of raising $1 billion to promote “transformative reform,” primarily by backing laws and political candidates, from local school boards to Congress, reports the New York Times. The group will solicit memberships for as little as $5 per month, but it will also take advantage of changes in campaign finance laws that allow it to broadcast political advertisements paid for by rich individuals and corporations.

“The ultimate goal is to shift the power dynamic of education in this country, which I think for far too long has been dominated by special interests, whether the teachers’ unions or textbook manufacturers,” Ms. Rhee, 40, said in an interview.

One issue she would tackle, she said, was the practice of laying off teachers, according to their contracts, by seniority rather than classroom effectiveness…

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staff and wire services reports