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Activist targeting schools, backed by big bucks


During her tumultuous three years at the head of the Washington D.C. public schools, Michelle Rhee set off a lot of fireworks, Reuters reports. She’s still doing it–on a national stage. Rhee has emerged as the leader of an unlikely coalition of politicians, philanthropists, financiers and entrepreneurs who believe the nation’s $500 billion-a-year public education system needs a massive overhaul. She has vowed to raise $1 billion for her national advocacy group, StudentsFirst, and forever break the hold of teachers unions on education policy. StudentsFirst has its own political action committee (PAC), its own SuperPAC, and a staff of 75, including a cadre of seasoned lobbyists Rhee sends from state to state as political battles heat up. She has flooded the airwaves with TV and radio ads in a half dozen states weighing new policies on charter schools, teacher assessment and other hot-button issues. To her supporters, Rhee is a once-in-a-generation leader who has the smarts and the star power to make a difference on one of the nation’s most intractable public policy issues…

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