Reinventing America’s Schools

Josephine Baker

Former Chair & Executive Director, D.C. Public Charter School Board Washington, D.C.

The main thing was that we wanted to serve children well. There was no point in opening schools that were not going to do that. We had already had enough of that. Not that DCPS wasn't trying, I think sincerely they were, but they were encumbered by themselves, by their attitudes, by history. We didn't have the history to encumber us, so we were able to strike out on our own without anything really pulling us back other than all the sideshows, but that was OK too. Sometimes that's invigorating.

We made good choices. We made strong choices. We gave them support. We didn't say, as some authorizers do, "OK, you have your charter, we'll be back in three years to see what you've done." But rather here are the things that we want to see periodically in order to see that you are implementing good standards, good rules, good educational practices that are going to serve the children well. So there were organizations of charter school supporters who thought that we were busybodies and much too much into the business of the schools. We should let them go and let them swim or sink. But they've got children there every day, so swimming or sinking is not a prerogative.

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