Last updated on April 13, 2023 by BVN
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California lost a giant in education on January 29, 2023 with the death of Dr. Rex Fortune. A powerful voice for the most vulnerable students and a brave warrior in the ongoing effort to close the educational achievement gap for black students. Recently, Black Voice News spoke with his daughter, Dr. Margaret Fortune, a leading educator and advocate in her own right, about her work and the lasting and meaningful impact of her father’s life.
Dr. Margaret Fortune, CEO of Fortune School of Education (FSE), is on a mission to close the achievement gap among African Americans by preparing scholars for college, starting in preschool and moving through twelfth grade. In a recent interview with Black Voice NewsDr. Fortune stated, “It is a labor of love. I was inspired by my father, Dr. Rex Fortune, who was an educator with the same passion.”
Dr. Rex Fortune has been superintendent of the school for more than 20 years, and founded FSE in 1989. The organization was created for certified teachers of color in areas of deficiency such as math and science. Dr. Margaret Fortune has since built the organization to include a network of charter public schools focused on closing the black achievement gap. She explained, “We have been working with teachers and administrators since 1989 in traditional public schools, and felt it was time to broaden our mandate, step into the classroom and do the work we know how to do ourselves. As a result, we have established 12 schools since 2010.”
Dr. Fortune’s father, Dr. Rex Fortune, was instrumental in shaping her career. She said, “He’s written books about teachers who have been successful with black students and we’d like to apply those practices at the School of Fortune. I think there’s a certain humility in acknowledging colleagues who are doing an excellent job, getting on their feet and learning from them. I was really fortunate to be able to meet him.” People along the way who teach us on the journey.”
Dr. Fortune’s dedication to education has earned her several awards, including the NAACP Woman of the Year Award. When asked if she was surprised when people and organizations recognized her accomplishments, she said, “It was a real surprise and honor to be awarded the NAACP Woman of the Year award. She has served the San Bernardino community since 2008, having founded Hardy Brown College Prep, which is now a PK-8 school.” We just opened the Fortune Nursery in this location, a couple of months ago. So, it’s an honor to serve the community, and it’s really a pleasure to be recognized for the work.”
Dr. Fortune is a role model for young black women interested in pursuing careers in education. Her advice to them is to seek out successful people and organizations, learn from their experiences, and be humble. She stated, “I’m a firm believer in looking for other successful people in organizations, who do what I do better than I do. That’s something my dad did, too.”
FSE is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and has received numerous awards and recognition for its work improving education for black students. The organization’s success is due in part to its focus on preparing students for college from an early age, providing them with a rigorous curriculum, and ensuring they have the support needed to succeed academically.
Looking ahead, Dr. Fortune identified three priorities for the future of the organization. First, she stressed the importance of advocacy in support of black students in California, who do not currently receive the same level of funding and accountability as other high-needs groups. Although black students perform academically similar to other high-needs groups, they are not formally considered as such. Thus, Dr. Fortune co-founded Black Alliance in school To raise awareness and push for change.
Second, FSE plans to expand its work in preschool education for African American children, as it is a critical stage in a child’s development. With the recent launch of Fortune Preschool in San Bernardino and Elk Grove, Dr. Fortune intends to take the program statewide and offer it in communities that value early education for Black children.
Finally, FSE has been recognized by the Office of Postsecondary Special Education as a degree-granting institution and will launch a master’s program in Education and Social Justice. This new program will be a path toward School of Fortune becoming a black college on the West Coast, as they seek to further their mission of preparing teachers equipped to serve their communities with fairness and justice.
But perhaps most importantly, the organization is dedicated to creating a community of learners. Dr. Margaret Fortune emphasized the importance of building relationships with students and their families, and schools prioritize parental involvement and involvement. By creating a sense of community and belonging, Fortune School of Education helps prepare the next generation of leaders and change-makers.
Dr. Margaret Fortune’s passion for education and dedication to closing the achievement gap for African Americans continues. Her father’s legacy and teachings helped shape her career, and she continues to pass this knowledge on to the next generation.