Skip to main content
  1. Life
  2. Education & Schools
  3. Charter Schools

A note on the Kaya Henderson interview

See also

I sat with Ms. Henderson before the Christmas Holiday, but I think about our conversation every day since then. Our meeting did nothing less than altered my thinking about school reform. Let me explain why.

I have been a school choice supporter from the time my grown children first entered elementary school. Even back then in Fairfax County, which is supposed to be one of the greatest school systems in this country, I could sense that my wife and I were not customers in our kid’s schools.

Based upon my experience there, and knowing what I did about the horrendous state of D.C. public schools, I was completely convinced that the competition for students afforded through school choice, in which money follows the child, was the only way that traditional public schools would be forced to improve.

Even in the nation’s capital my faith in school choice was shaken early on. As the charter movement got going, and more and more parents moved their kids into this alternative system, DCPS did not react. I was shocked. It was only when they lost over 25 percent of their population that Mayor Fenty was elected, the regular schools were put under Mayoral control, and Michelle Rhee was made Chancellor.

For the first time in perhaps a hundred years DCPS started to make positive changes both on the academic and facility sides. Until then, kids started every year without books in buildings filled with weapons, drugs, and gangs. The facilities were literally crumbling from lack of appropriate upkeep.

I thought I was finally vindicated. School choice had the effect that economist Milton Friedman had written about in the 1950’s. Then I met Ms. Henderson.

The Chancellor is different. Here is an individual who doesn’t believe she needs to implode the system to fix it. Through a day-to-day consistent glowing optimism she is working within DCPS, complete with its political environment and teachers’ union, to bring about the extremely tough changes that are raising academic achievement of her students. She is focused, determined, and has set high expectations for herself and her staff. Ms. Henderson is doing nothing less than installing the pedagogical rigor that has been absent from her classrooms. She is doing this, despite the constant naysayers and distractions, with a smile on her face.

It made me think that if she can do this here then could others do the same thing in other cities? And while DCPS appears currently to be on the right track if school choice vanished tomorrow would the improvements continue? I frankly do not know.

What I do understand is that we have a superstar in our possession that we must all support. Recent public conversations about whether a new Mayor would retain the services of Ms. Henderson do not help anyone. She is an individual who is totally convinced in her heart and in her head that by working together we can finally provide all students with a quality education, no matter their background. For me, today, this is more than sufficient.

Advertisement

Life

  • Dead babies found
    Seven dead babies were found in Utah resident Megan Huntsman's old home
    Video
    Shocking Discovery
  • Kendall Jenner
    Get the Coachella looks: Kendall Jenner’s nose ring, green hair and edgy nails
    Camera
    Coachella Look
  • Dog's Easter basket
    How to fill your dog’s Easter basket with the perfect toys
    Easter Basket
  • Rabbit owners
    Bringing home the bunny: Important information for rabbit owners
    Camera
    7 Photos
  • Haunted island
    The world’s most haunted island may soon be the most haunted luxury resort
    Haunted Resort
  • Sunken ferry
    Search continues for missing passengers after a ferry sinks off the South Korean coast
    Video
    Sunken Ferry

User login

Log in
Sign in with your email and password. Or reset your password.
Write for us
Interested in becoming an Examiner and sharing your experience and passion? We're always looking for quality writers. Find out more about Examiner.com and apply today!