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Rhee donates significantly to L.A. school board races

February 20, 2013 |  2:06 pm

Former District of Columbia Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee speaks in Los Angeles in January. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

This post has been updated.

Former District of Columbia Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, a controversial figure in education reform, said Wednesday that her organization has made a substantial donation to the contests for seats on the Los Angeles Board of Education.

The support of StudentsFirst is going toward a campaign on behalf of school board President Monica Garcia as well as Kate Anderson and Antonio Sanchez, who are seeking to join the seven-member body.

Rhee disclosed the contribution to The Times after taking part in a panel on education reform at USC. [Updated Feb. 20 at 2:27 p.m.: StudentsFirst said Wednesday the amount was $250,000.]

Rhee's donation follows a $1-million donation to the same candidates made by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg last week. The independent campaign for the three contestants in the March 5 election is being managed by the Coalition for School Reform, which is closely allied with L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. 

Rhee said her involvement in Los Angeles could advance school reform in the state as a whole because of the size and influence of L.A. Unified. She added that it's vital for the progress made under L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy to continue.

"We think it's important that John Deasy be able to continue on the job to finish the work he started and be able to make progress on the initiatives he has in place," she said.

As superintendent, Deasy has worked to develop a new teacher evaluation system that incorporates the use of students standardized test scores as one measure of an instructor's effectiveness. Last week, he directed principals to have test results count for 30% of an evaluation. He also has altered district rules so that layoffs are not based strictly on seniority.

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-- Howard Blume

Photo: Former District of Columbia Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee speaks in Los Angeles last month. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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