Wednesday, October 08, 2014


By Caitlin Emma With help from Maggie Severns and Stephanie Simon | Politico Morning Report | by email

STUDENTSFIRST PICKS NEW PRESIDENT - Oct 8, 2014  ::  Longtime education reformer Jim Blew has been selected by the StudentsFirst Board of Directors to serve as the group's new president, replacing former D.C. schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Blew has served as an adviser to the Walton Family Foundation on a host of K-12 education reform issues and he has directed campaigns for the Alliance for School Choice and its predecessor, the American Education Reform Council. He steps in at an integral time for StudentsFirst - when news broke in mid-August that Rhee was stepping down, reform activists said [] she was leaving a trail of disappointment and disillusionment in her wake. Four years ago, Rhee pledged to raise $1 billion to transform education worldwide. But StudentsFirst has been hobbled by a high turnover rate. And activists said Rhee failed to build critical coalitions, instead alienating activists who should have been her allies with strategies they found imperious, uncompromising and even illogical.

- "StudentsFirst was created to change the education policy landscape on behalf of all kids, which is exactly what it has been doing," Blew said. "In states across the country, people are now debating education policies such as teacher tenure and public charter schools through a student-focused lens, instead of a system-protection lens. I look forward to working alongside StudentsFirst's dedicated staff, members and allies in our continued efforts to improve education for millions of kids."

- "With nearly 20 years of experience in education reform, Jim is the perfect leader to take StudentsFirst to the next level and continue growing the strength of the organization. We are incredibly proud to add him to our team," Rhee said. "He's been an important partner and advisor to me since my days as Chancellor in D.C., and he has worked alongside us to help grow our organization for the past four years."

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