Adrian Fenty: How Washington DC residents voted for change then rejected it.
Disclaimer: I value all sides of the issue and this is just one of many point of views. Thank you for reading mine.
When Adrian Fenty was elected for mayor of Washington DC, I wasn't his biggest fan. However, that mostly had to do with my political party affiliation and disdain for every DC election swinging hard left. I thought that Adrian Fenty would parrot the prior mayors of DC and pretty much be in lock-step with the status quo around the district. But Adrian Fenty changed my mind and has my admiration across party lines.
As a mother, a woman, and an American, I want what's best for our nation's children. And for the first time in decades, Adrian Fenty took real action to improve DC schools. Hiring Michelle Rhee was controversial for sure. It made national headlines. People were shocked and upset when Rhee cleaned house too. It wasn't pretty. No one wants to admit it, but closing schools and dismissing teachers was probably the best thing for Washington DC. Teachers who were deemed "incompetent" were let go and underused schools shut down. Why is this bad? It's not for our children who deserve the best teachers and the most modern schools. By making the tough decisions, Rhee was able to improve the DC education system. Adrian Fenty backed her all the way. Wise man.
In retaliation, the American Federation of Teachers dropped about a million dollars on Adrian Fenty's 2010 opponent, Vincent Gray. Because teachers being benchmarked and dismissed didn't serve their interest. The American Federation of Teachers' purpose is to keep teachers employed and represent them. Most people agree, good teachers deserve higher pay and job security. But what about bad teachers? Adrian Fenty and Michelle Rhee wanted to find a way to eliminate ineffective teachers and the only way to do it is to create some sort of evaluation or benchmark. Sadly, that's not something teachers unions favor.
In Adrian Fenty's words after his loss to Vincent Gray:
"The teachers unions aren't bad per se," he said, "but the teachers unions are going to have to explain why when every tough decision is made to reform the school system they are at the lead in opposing it ... If you are going to be at the front of the line in preventing reform, then I believe that the bad outweighs the good."
Adrian Fenty lost to a man funded by teacher's unions and teacher's lobbyists. Voters in DC quickly picked up on rhetoric that somehow linked school closings with race and not the fact that the schools were failing. What voters weren't looking at is that by eliminating schools and teachers that DON'T work, Washington DC would have funds to invest in schools and teachers who DO WORK.
Vincent Gray, good luck. I have a feeling you won't continue Fenty's reform. Rhee has resigned because she's well aware that her place as a reformer is no longer in Washington DC. What a shame. Because this right-leaning mom, was cheering for the left leaning Fenty.
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