In Washington, D.C., where charter schools now enroll over 43% of the public school population, DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson recently announced her plan to close 20 more public schools at the same time that charter school operators were seeking fast-track approval for up to 10 new campuses.
Peter MacPherson, the former president of the Capitol Hill Cluster School PTA (DC Public Schools), wrote the following letter to Mayor Gray, calling for Chancellor Henderson’s resignation. Like many public school parents who volunteer for school improvement committees, he lobbied Chancellors Rhee and Henderson and former DC Council chair, now mayor, Gray for school modernization and technology upgrades. This past spring, he organized a city-wide campaign to stop Henderson’s plan to lay off several dozen school librarians. It met with little response from the chancellor, though a member of the city council introduced legislation that would require a librarian in every school.
His letter expresses the widely-felt frustration of many parents, when they realize that their efforts to work with school officials are either ignored or met with disingenuous responses.
McPherson wrote this public letter in response to Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s plan to close more public schools and open more charters.
When those responsible for public schools give the order to abandon them, it is a public admission that they have no ideas about how to improve them. If they truly are bereft of their own plans, they should not be in charge. Public schools need leadership, not people in charge working to shut them down.
Leaders of public schools who don’t fight to strengthen them are working for the competition.