StudentsFirst Founder and CEO Michelle Rhee Resigns

Michelle Rhee, founder and CEO of StudentsFirst, has resigned from her position leading the business aspects of the organization.

"While I remain 100% committed to the success of StudentsFirst, it's time for a shift in the day-to-day management of the team and our advocacy work," Rhee wrote in the blog post. "We'll be sharing more of the nuts-and-bolts details about that in the coming weeks."

While Rhee has not announced a final resignation date, it is expected that she will step down by the end of the year. She will continue to serve on the board for the advocacy group she founded in 2010.

Her goal for the organization was to raise $1 billion in an effort to overcome the influence of teachers unions in matters concerning education policy, especially within state capitals. The group focuses on school accountability, altering tenure laws and connecting student test scores to teacher evaluations, writes Joy Resmovits for The Huffington Post.

So far, StudentsFirst has raised $62 million and is active in 18 states.

While it has fallen short of its goals in the state of California, the group has managed to help coordinate test scores and evaluations in Connecticut, expand charter schools in Texas and Ohio, and raised awareness for the end of the "last in, first out" policy in place in several other states that required the newest teachers to be laid off first.

The Sacramento-based organization is close to finding a new president, but is not releasing details at the moment.

The news comes at a time when StudentsFirst is pulling out of several states. The group will remain active in at least 13 states, but many wonder if the organization will be as effective without Rhee at the helm, writes Maureen Downey for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Larry Cuban wrote of the waning power of StudentsFirst without Rhee on his education blog a year ago:

"If she leaves the organization out of fatigue or pique, no more StudentsFirst. Moreover, such political work to be effective is back-channel and under the media radar. Such work is not Michelle Rhee, considering her few years in Washington, D.C. and since."

Rhee has accepted a new position as board chairwoman for St. Hope Public Schools, a nonprofit organization operating charter schools that was founded by her husband, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, writes Loretta Kalb for The Sacramento Bee. Launched in the late 1980s, the charter schools expect to enroll about 1,800 students this year.

The organization hopes that the addition of Rhee will allow the superintendent, who had previously oversaw the running of all five schools, to have a more manageable job.

She has also accepted a position to serve on two board committees for Scotts Miracle-Gro; innovation/marketing and compensation/organization.

Rhee also discussed spending time focusing on her husband's career. When Johnson first ran for mayor in 2008, Rhee helped write key speeches for him and provided counsel on many issues. Johnson in turn helped to launch StudentsFirst.

"Kevin has achieved national recognition and is in a position to drive critical change where it's needed," Rhee said in a statement sent exclusively to The Bee. "Kevin and I view our goals in life and public service as a team. He was right there with me when we created this organization and has worked alongside me throughout these past four years. I am excited to continue working side by side on these new opportunities we have."

08 20, 2014
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