What does Fenty's defeat mean for Obama's education reforms?
Dana Goldstein thinks Barack Obama and Arne Duncan could learn a thing or two from the defeat of Adrian Fenty and Michelle Rhee:
As antithetical as the Fenty/Rhee scorched earth PR strategy is to President Obama’s own calm and conciliatory tone, there is no doubt about it: Rhee’s education reform agenda for D.C. -- closing down failing schools, firing ineffective teachers and principals, and instituting teacher merit pay based in part on kids’ standardized test scores—is near and dear to Obama’s heart. The very same policies were incentivized by his administration’s Race to the Top program, a $4 billion grant competition in which states competed for stimulus dollars by promising to institute such reforms.
If there’s a lesson for Obama and his education secretary, Arne Duncan, to learn from Fenty’s defeat, it might be that significant segments of the public—including the urban public school parents who have the most potentially to gain—are skeptical of the White House’s school reform agenda, which adopts many of the priorities of the Bush administration, including high-stakes standardized testing and tough accountability measures for neighborhood schools. While many in the media champion these policies, school reformers so far have failed to make the case to communities, who see their local schools not only as student achievement factories, but also as storehouses of community history, sources of jobs, and even repositories of racial pride.
Matt Yglesias sort of disagrees, and notes that Fenty won 62 percent of parents who have children enrolled in the D.C. public schools.
September 15, 2010; 1:48 PM ET
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