Elected in 2006, Fenty is best known for his takeover of the D.C. public school system—bringing it directly under the mayor—and his controversial appointment of Chancellor Michelle Rhee to make the changes.
He focused on two subjects in his address: the difficulty, but necessity, of urban education reform and the role of politicians to make difficult, sometimes unpopular, decisions.
In the address, Fenty said, “School reform is the campaign to knock down any obstacles that impede every child having the opportunity to get an education.”
The former mayor praised the idealized one-room schoolhouse where teachers are both autonomous and accountable for the education of their pupils. This schoolhouse is opposed to school systems whose bureaucracies remove accountability and stifle creativity, according to Fenty.
In his education campaign, Fenty said he ran into two major obstacles. First, he needed to remove school boards as the governing bodies.