Rees Leaves Innovation Office for Job in the Private Sector

By Michelle R. Davis — January 17, 2006 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The head of the Department of Education’s office of innovation and improvement left last week for a job in the private sector.

Nina Shokraii Rees, a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney and a former education analyst at the Heritage Foundation, said she would go to work for Knowledge Universe Inc., a Santa Monica, Calif.-based education investment company, as its vice president of strategic initiatives, starting Jan. 30.

Ms. Rees will be working in the Washington office of the company, which was formed in 1996 by the former junk-bond financier Michael R. Milken and others.

Ms. Rees was the first person to direct the office of innovation and improvement, which was created in September 2002 by then-Secretary of Education Rod Paige. It was formed to promote President Bush’s agenda for school choice, including private school vouchers.

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings praised Ms. Rees’ service, saying in a Jan. 12 statement that she had moved “the ball forward toward the goal of a quality education for all Americans.”

As the assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement, Ms. Rees “was a catalyst for grassroots change and accountability-based reform,” Ms. Spellings said in the statement.

Ms. Rees was involved in the expansion of charter schools, through grants and outreach across the country, and was an advocate for the first federal voucher program, established by Congress for the District of Columbia in 2003. Her office was also instrumental in channeling $20 million in federal charter school money to Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The office of innovation and improvement also oversees the implementation of the supplemental-services portion of the No Child Left Behind Act. The law calls for students at some schools that do not meet annual educational goals to receive after-school tutoring services.

A New Viewpoint

Ms. Rees said in an interview last week that she was looking forward to getting a new perspective on supplemental services. Knowledge Universe owns or has investments in a long list of education companies, including K-12 Inc., KinderCare Learning Centers, and EdSolutions Inc., a supplemental-services provider.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how the business side of [supplemental education services] works, and the challenges they face,” Ms. Rees said. “In my capacity, I only hear what they want me to hear. I’ve always been interested in the entrepreneurial end of the puzzle.”

She said she would also work on early-childhood-education issues for Knowledge Universe to ensure that state efforts to develop universal prekindergarten programs include private providers.

“This [new job] dovetails well with everything I’ve done so far to expand choice in K-12,” she said.

Under federal law, Ms Rees cannot lobby the Education Department for a one-year period.

Andrew J. Rotherham, a co-director of Education Sector, a Washington-based national education think tank, and a former White House aide in the Clinton administration, said that Ms. Rees’ departure suggests Ms. Spellings may be showing the door to those chosen by Mr. Paige.

“It means that Spellings is putting her imprint on the department,” he wrote in an e-mail Jan. 12.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Start Strong With Solid SEL Implementation: Success Strategies for the New School Year
Join Satchel Pulse to learn why implementing a solid SEL program at the beginning of the year will deliver maximum impact to your students.
Content provided by Satchel Pulse
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Science Webinar
Real-World Problem Solving: How Invention Education Drives Student Learning
Hear from student inventors and K-12 teachers about how invention education enhances learning, opens minds, and preps students for the future.
Content provided by The Lemelson Foundation
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal The Senate Gun Bill: What It Would Mean for School Safety, Mental Health Efforts
Details of a bipartisan Senate agreement on guns outline additional funding to support student mental health programs.
6 min read
Protesters take to the streets of downtown Detroit June 11 to call for new gun laws. One holds up a sign that says "policy and change."
Protesters call for new gun laws in Detroit's March for Our Lives event earlier this month.
KT Kanazawich for Education Week
Federal What Educators Need to Know About Senators' Bipartisan Deal on Guns, School Safety
In addition to gun restrictions, a tentative compromise would also fund mental health and school safety programs—but it faces hurdles.
4 min read
Protesters hold up a sign that shows the outline of a rifle struck through with a yellow line at a demonstration in support of stronger gun laws.
Protesters gather for the March For Our Lives rally in Detroit, among the demonstrations against gun violence held on the heels of recent mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas.
KT Kanazawich for Education Week
Federal Senate Negotiators Announce a Deal on Guns, Breaking Logjam
The agreement offers modest gun curbs and bolstered efforts to improve school safety and mental health programs.
5 min read
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., speaks during a rally near Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 10, 2022, urging Congress to pass gun legislation. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Federal Education Secretary: 'Let's Transform Our Appreciation of Teachers to Action'
Miguel Cardona shared strategies to help recruit, develop, and retain effective teachers.
5 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 27, 2022.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event in the White House on April 27.
Susan Walsh/AP