Reinventing America’s Schools

Irasema Salcido

Founder, Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy Washington, D.C.

I started in a basement in Southwest, three floors down because that was the only space available. And for those of us that were opening schools, you didn't have a choice to wait until the contract can be negotiated 'cause you have to open school in September. And quickly I realized how difficult it was gonna be in the operations piece, because even when I was opening, though I had the space, I needed dividers because there was no walls. It was really hard to start at a basement, as you can imagine. I was thinking, "My goodness, how can parents trust me?" They're sending their kids here and we're in the nation's capital and here I am starting at a basement. But I think what kept me going is just realizing what makes the difference is the fact that we're gonna have high expectations for the students. The fact that I have amazing staff, dedicated staff, that we're gonna have tutoring, that we're gonna do whatever it takes to make sure our students succeed, that that's what matters at the end.

So that was a struggle, finding a facility and then moving again and again, and that's just the story I think of a startup charter school. I think, thankfully, that was 15, 16, 17 years ago. Now there's so many other resources. It's not like at the beginning.

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