This week D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser finally announced the 26 members of her Cross Sector Collaboration Task Force. This is the group that is to determine over the next two years where charters and the traditional schools can coordinate their efforts to improve public education in the city. The list was supposed to come out at the end of September.
Representing the charter sector are, of course, Dr. Darren Woodruff, chairman of the DC Public Charter School Board, Scott Pearson, executive director of the PCSB, and Irene Holtzman, executive director of FOCUS. Emily Lawson, founder and executive director of DC Prep is a member, as is Lars Beck, chief executive of Scholars Academies, Shantelle Wright, founder and executive director of Achievement Prep PCS, Ariana Quinones, who used to work for FOCUS and Fight for Children and whose child has attended a charter school, and Melissa Kim, secondary school chief academic officer of KIPP DC. These names are no real surprises. However, I might have included Michela English, CEO and president of Fight for Children, Katherine Bradley, president and co-founder of the CityBridge Foundation, and Maura Marino, managing director of NewSchools Venture Fund.
If you eliminate people in the Bowser administration, the body includes the same number of supporters of charters and DCPS. This may be the first and only time there is true equity between the two sectors. Now, according to my agenda, it is up to this team to figure out how to increase the speed in which high quality charters are replicated, how to attract more good charter operators to the District, how to bring revenue for charters up to the DCPS level, and how to free up surplus DCPS buildings for charter school use. As you can see it is an extremely tall order.
What this effort is not about is limiting the amount of charter school growth or deciding where charters can and cannot locate. It will be fascinating to see if the charter representatives can pull all of this off.