- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 19, 2006

After relentlessly campaigning on a platform to solve the horrible problems pervading D.C. public schools, Democrat Adrian Fenty sailed through the Democratic primary by winning all 142 precincts. Mr. Fenty was not our preferred candidate. Nonetheless, we do not deny his assertion that his sweeping victory amounted to “a mandate for fixing the schools.”

Mr. Fenty recently made it clear that one of his first actions as mayor will be an effort to obtain much greater control over the District’s failing school system than Mayor Williams currently exercises. We shall enthusiastically support that endeavor, just as we embraced Mr. Williams’ initial 2004 plan, which would have transformed the Board of Education into an advisory panel and given the mayor the power to hire the school superintendent. Unfortunately, in 2004 Councilman Fenty voted against this sensible plan, which he now embraces.

Alluding to the “passion” he proclaimed for school reform throughout the campaign, Mr. Fenty recently told The Washington Post that he “would be petrified to not come in and make this my highest priority. And tinkering around the edges is not going to be well received” We agree. And we would add one other issue that should not be “well received”: Mr. Fenty’s refusal to enroll his 6-year-old twins in a D.C. public school.

If Mr. Fenty wants to be empowered to exercise control over public schools, then he should put some “skin in the game.” He should immediately enroll his children in West Elementary School.

In his Sunday “On Language” column titled “The skinny on fleshing out a metaphor,” New York Times linguist William Safire explained the meaning of putting some skin in the game. “The skin in this case is a synecdoche for the self, much as ‘head’ stands for cattle and ‘sail’ stands for ships. [Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all eighth-graders understood this literary device?] The game is the investment, commitment or gamble [such as school reform] being undertaken. Thus, investors in a company [or taxpayers and parents of public-school children] will be more comfortable in their own skins if they know that the managers [or the mayor, by virtue of sending his own children to a public school] are personally invested as well — that they [the mayor and his family] share the risk and have an incentive to share the gains.”

If Mr. Fenty wants to prove to his constituents that he will share both the risks and the gains of school reform, then he should stand up and put some “skin in the game.”



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