Education

Trump to meet Saturday with Sacramento first lady Michelle Rhee

Michelle Rhee talks with her husband, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, at a Sacramento Kings game on Monday, Feb, 1, 2016 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
Michelle Rhee talks with her husband, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, at a Sacramento Kings game on Monday, Feb, 1, 2016 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Donald Trump will meet on Saturday with Sacramento first lady Michelle Rhee, considered to be in the running for secretary of education.

Jason Miller, communications director for Trump’s transition team, said the meeting will take place in Bedminster, New Jersey, where Trump will also meet with Betsy DeVos, a Republican mega-donor from Michigan who is reportedly a candidate for education secretary as well.

Others Trump will meet with in New Jersey on Saturday include former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who is reportedly under consideration for secretary of state.

“These meetings that the president-elect is holding show that he is meeting some of the best brightest and most qualified people not only to fill specific roles but give advice and counsel,” Miller said.

Rhee rose to prominence as an education reformer while she was chancellor of schools in Washington, D.C., from 2007-10.

She has been an advocate for charter schools and chairs the board of St. Hope Public Schools, a Sacramento-based charter school organization started by her husband, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.

Rhee, a Democrat like her husband, broke with her party to support school-choice vouchers. But Rhee supports the Common Core curriculum that Trump has pledged to dismantle.

DeVos, from the Grand Rapids area, is also a school choice advocate. She’s a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party who led a failed 2000 attempt to change the state Constitution to create a voucher system where tax dollars could support students in private schools.

Trump spokesman Miller, asked about Rhee and DeVos, declined to offer details about them.

“Some people are coming in for specific cabinet positions and others about how to best move America forward,” Miller said. “The folks who you’ve mentioned are being brought in because they have experience in their respective fields and great ideas, but we also feel that everyone who is coming forward is highly qualified and well suited to top level positions.”

Word that Trump is meeting with Rhee and DeVos comes a day after Eva Moskowitz, a charter school leader from New York who Trump had considered for education secretary, took herself out of the running after meeting with Trump at his Trump Tower office on Wednesday.

Moskowitz, who supported Hillary Clinton for president, said she still hoped to work with Trump on school choice issues, and suggested there are “many positive signs” that Trump the president will be different from Trump the candidate.

Rhee has largely kept out of public view in recent years. During the 2014 election, Rhee championed a failed measure on behalf of Johnson to increase the power of the Sacramento mayor’s office. She reportedly splits her time between Sacramento and Tennessee, where her children live.

Trump spokesman Miller said the list of people Trump is meeting with demonstrates that the president-elect is “not putting together meetings based on political affiliation or whether they supported him in the past.”

“He’s bringing together a broad and diverse team to help come up with a number of different policies and procedures and specific team members to help move our country forward,” Miller said.

Sean Cockerham: 202-383-6016, @seancockerham

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