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Mon Jun 25, 2012, 07:00 PM

National education reform group's spending shown

Source: Reuters

National education reform group's spending shown

By Stephanie Simon
Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:53pm EDT

(Reuters) - The national education reform group StudentsFirst, which has set out to transform U.S. schools by introducing more free-market principles to public education, raised $7.6 million in its first nine months - and spent nearly a quarter of it on advertising - according to partial tax records released on Monday.

Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools, launched StudentsFirst in the fall of 2010 with the stated goal of raising $1 billion over five years. Among the reforms it advocates: abolishing teacher tenure; permitting more teachers without formal education training to take charge of classrooms; evaluating teachers in large measure by their students' scores on standardized tests; and expanding charter schools, which are publicly funded but typically run by private corporations, including for-profit management firms.

Rhee has pressed her agenda in states from Connecticut to Alabama to Michigan, spending millions on TV and radio ads, public rallies and lobbying as well as campaign donations for friendly candidates.

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Rhee, a political lightning rod since she closed scores of schools and laid off hundreds of teachers during her tenure in Washington, has refused to discuss her funding or her donors. The IRS forms released by her organization on Monday cover only the first several months of her work, through July 31, 2011. Updated filings are not expected until the end of the year, though Reuters has confirmed that recent donors include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and hedge fund managers David Tepper and Alan Fournier, who have pledged substantial resources to a StudentsFirst partner organization in New Jersey.

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Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/25/us-usa-education-reform-studentsfirst-idUSBRE85O1CN20120625

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