by Dorothy Rowley
AFRO Staff Writer
Former District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty appears to be following in the footsteps of the chancellor that played a prominent role in the loss of his job in last year’s primary election.
Fenty has signed on with a talent agency as an education advocate, meaning he will be promoting and advising school districts across the nation on implementing many of the tough reformation mandates Michelle Rhee set in motion for the District’s troubled public schools system.
Rhee, who resigned her position under pressure this past October after serving more than three years at Fenty’s behest, has gone on to launch the national education initiative, StudentsFirst, which has been in the process of raising $1 billion to help fix broken public school systems.
According to the Greater Talent Network which will manage Fenty, he has become a national leader in the area of urban education reform after restructuring the District’s troubled public schools system during his first months as mayor. GTN also states in its biographical sketch of Fenty that shocked both the city and the nation, having brought in Rhee ? a bold move that resulted in secondary student achievement in reading and in math having rose significantly.
Meanwhile, the agency which has earned a national reputation as an industry leader among speakers’ bureaus, lists among its exclusive lineup of speakers, former U. S. Sen. Spencer Abraham, Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter, former heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman as well as Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker.
Fenty could not be reached for comment, but says in one of a series of GTN promotional videos that fixing school systems would make everything else fall in line.
Referring to the glaring turnaround that came about through Rhee’s hard-nosed efforts, Fenty surmised that since 2007, no school system has made the same amount of academic progress in such a short period as the District.
“Four years ago it would have been unheard of for Washington, D.C., to even apply for, let alone win a national competition among states and cities . . . for the top dollars that we were able to receive,” Fenty said. “We believe that is because of Chancellor Rhee’s strong academic reform” coupled, he said, with the leadership he had shown as mayor.
Fenty’s close friend and Peaceaholics founder Ron Moten said he thought the former mayor’s taking to the road to promote education reform was a good idea.
“He can tell people how he did what he did, but most importantly he can tell them about his successes and his mistakes in doing so,” Moten said. “[Education reform] seems to be the movement across the country and Fenty did a lot of things the right way –although there are some things he could have done differently.”