Our National Launch: Honoring Chartering Pioneers in our Nation’s Capitol

I couldn’t have asked for a better start to our national book tour for Zero Chance of Passage:  The Pioneering Charter School Story.  Last week my copublisher, Charter Schools Development Corporation (CSDC), and its board of directors on which I serve, hosted a classy reception and book signing at a beautiful suite overlooking the US Capitol. National pioneers in attendance included Will Marshall, President of the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI); and Andy Rotherham, of PPI and the Clinton White House, who both played important roles in taking chartering to the national stage twenty years ago.  Frank Riggs, CEO of CSDC, was also an early pioneer as a member of the Republican Congress in bringing chartering to DC schools and in drafting legislation to provide support for charter school facilities.

I am indebted to the many organizations and individuals who served as co-hosts for this national book launch  event, including:  Bellwether Education, Center for Education Reform, Charter Board Partners, DC Association of Chartered Public Schools, DC Public Charter School Board, Democrats for Education Reform, Friends of Choices in Urban Schools (FOCUS), National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Penn Hill Group, Progressive Policy Institute, Ten Square, The From Company (with pioneer Al From), Jo Baker and Nelson Smith.  It was a “Who’s Who” of the world of chartered schools, and I could not be more grateful to have such support for spreading the pioneering story far and wide.  Washington DC is a shining example of how chartering can provide successful results and impact a community—41% of the public school students in DC currently attend a public charter school, and that figure is likely to exceed 50% by decade’s end.

I also want to give a shout out to Jo Baker, a DC pioneer who served as both executive director and board chair of the DC Public CharterSchool Board.  She took me to an amazing chartered school established in 2005 on the campus of Howard University by a university leader.  The Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science is a Tier I High-Performing School for middle school students who aspire to be engineers, doctors and scientists.  It is a technology-based school with access to campus resources, including Howard University students who receive valuable experience giving back to the  middle school.  You can feel the energy of the students in the pictures —whether it be in the social studies classroom, the STEM lab, or the math classroom (where Jo Baker admires the work of a young student).     My thanks to Kenneth Caesar, Dean of Students, for sharing his time and passion with us for this great tour!