Is D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty's Loss a National Defeat for Education Reform?
That said, education reform WAS an issue that hurt Fenty. Michael Lomax, the President and CEO of the United Negro College Fund and a genuine reformer, writes about the lessons:
Fenty and Rhee persuaded the foundations, the reformers and the media. But they failed to persuade the one group that could have kept both of them in office: low- and moderate-income African-American voters.
There's a lesson here for education reformers in other cities. Real education reform is disruptive. You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. Beloved teachers lose their jobs. Neighborhood schools that have anchored communities are closed or reconstituted. But with the disruption comes a rebirth of education, a rising tide that lifts all parts of the community.
Education reformers need to make that case. They need to make it to the parents who have the largest stake in quality education: their children's futures. They need to make it not only to foundations and editorial writers but also to neighborhood leaders, small-business entrepreneurs, and ministers and their flocks. In other words, they need to make it to the people with whose support reform will not only succeed but take root.