The Pennsylvania legislature is working on a "school choice" bill—meaning school vouchers and expanded charter schools. Rachel Tabachnik has detailed the network of Betsy DeVos-funded
think tanks and PACs that are pushing privatization. But no move to undermine public education that works for all kids would be complete without Michelle Rhee, and Karoli at Crooks and Liars
details how Rhee's StudentsFirst has been involved. After a string of Rhee appearances with voucher supporters and at DeVos-funded events, StudentsFirst has hired a lobbyist with some hardcore Republican credentials:
With the Pennsylvania school choice bill still stuck in the ever-grinding gears of legislative activity, Rhee has decided she needs a lobbyist to give it a jumpstart, and that lobbyist is a Republican strategist by the name of Ray Zaborney, former campaign manager for Lynn Swann's gubernatorial bid. Zaborney is also currently advising Republican Tim Burns' bid to unseat Senator Bob Casey in 2012.
It appears that Zaborney is keeping a low profile on whatever education activities he is undertaking on behalf of Michelle Rhee. But his prior public statements are anything but ambivalent: He is a full supporter of vouchers, ending teacher tenure and other hot-button issues Rhee advocates.
Sometimes Rhee likes to pretend her policy agenda is a genuinely bipartisan one. But when the chips are down and you need to get a bill passed that fulfills some of the deepest-seated Republican goals there are, like privatizing public education and letting companies profit off it, best to go with an experienced Republican lobbyist.