Mercedes Schneider employs her highly honed investigative skills to examine the background of Tennessee State Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn, who announced her resignation, as well as the “credentials” of her replacement Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds.

Schwinn started in Teach for America, then worked her way up to become chief deputy commissioner of academics for the Texas Education Agency. Such meteoric advances seem to happen only with TFA experience, especially in red states. Schwinn caused a bit of controversy after she handed out a $4.4 million no-bid contract to a newly-formed vendor who also had a TFA background. Strangely the whistle-blower was fired, while Schwinn rose yet again to be state commissioner of education in Tennessee.

In 2021, a Republican legislator introduced legislation calling for her resignation, due to the astronomical turnover rate in her department. But the proposal was withdrawn.

Then Schwinn audaciously awarded a multimillion dollar contract to TNTP (founded by Michelle Rhee) without disclosing that her husband worked for TNTP.

Schwinn’s successor, Reynolds, has no classroom experience. None. She rose through Ed deform organizations, largely connected to George W. Bush and Jeb Bush.

Schneider concludes:

Ed-reform makes for a tight and influential club.

For now, Schwinn is out, but with Reynolds replacing her, market-based ed reform will almost certainly not be taking a back seat in the Volunteer State.

Scandal might. But not corporate-styled ed reform.

If the people of Tennessee want a different approach to education, they will have to elect a new governor.