Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Beginning of an Era for DC Public Schools?

In an era where hope and possibility often trump politics and tradition, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty has secured the first and maybe most significant step along the way to becoming school chief. Notables like Mayor Bloomberg in New York City have ushered in wide spread sweeping change like an end to social promotion, small school creation, and major reorganization. Another standout mayor, Mayor Patterson of Indianapolis won the right to establish charter schools. As the list of cities grows--Providence, Trenton, New Haven, Philadelphia, and Baltimore have been added to the "old guard" list of Chicago, New York, Cleveland, Boston and Harrisburg--it arguably becomes easier for a Mayor like Fenty to assume leadership of the schools.

And it's not like anyone is surprised. Mayor Fenty made his intentions well known in advance of his mayorship. With promises like fixing broken windows and dilapidated bathrooms within two months, it is no wonder that the language of hope and action goes far in an urban system notorious for delay and bureaucratic strangle. As for the role of the Superintendent Clifford Janey, his job is still up in the air. School board President Robert C. Bobb has said he will continue to serve in a reduced capacity. The school board members, present and future, will accept diminished control as well, but the Mayor's office seems intent on including them and "beef"ing up their role, at least according to the Washington Post.

Assuming this change happens, and it looks like it will it's easy to make a prediction or two: Fenty will have some success, just like others have had. People will be patient with this 36-year-old mayor. He has a lot of capital. His clout and the successes of those who came before him will carry. Just don't expect the moon, folks. We won't get it.


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