DC Charter School Pioneer Josephine Baker to Step Down; Local and National Charter School Communities Will Fête Her Contributions

Wednesday, May 4, 2011
For Immediate Release: 
Contact: Nona Richardson 202-328-2670

Washington, D.C. — Josephine Baker, a pioneer of the DC charter school movement, announced today that she will step down from her post as executive director of the DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB) at the end of May.  Ms. Baker stated, "My tenure as the executive director has been both rewarding and inspiring. I plan to take a long, restful break and spend time with my family, before considering how I might contribute my rich experiences to future work in the charter community.”

Brian W. Jones, the PCSB's chair said, "Jo Baker is an icon. Her departure will leave both a great void within the PCSB and an unparalleled legacy of service to the children and families of the District." Vice Chair Skip McKoy added, "It's been an honor and a privilege to work with Jo. We have a lot to build upon."   

Baker is known locally, nationally and internationally as a leader and innovator in education reform. She was an award-winning educator in DC Public Schools (DCPS) for 25 years and taught aspiring teachers at George Washington University's School of Education. She was a top choice of then-Mayor Marion Barry to be appointed to the PCSB when it was authorized by Congress in 1996, and soon thereafter was elected as the first chair by her fellow board members.  In 2002, with 20 charter schools under the PCSB's authority, her colleagues asked her to serve as the Executive Director of the organization. She has served as a founding member and a past chair of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers Board.  Education leaders from around the country and the world have sought her insights about the District's approach to charter authorizing.
Baker led the PCSB through the establishment of a rigorous charter application process, comprehensive oversight of charter school performance and a period of rapid growth. Throughout her tenure, Ms. Baker’s focus remained on "the best interests of children,'" which many heard her utter during statements related to charter school accountability.  By 2007, PCSB-authorized charter schools grew to 37 schools, serving 20 percent of all public school students in DC. Shortly after his inauguration, then-Mayor Adrian Fenty transferred authority for all 18 of the DC Board of Education's charter schools to the PCSB, demonstrating his confidence in the PCSB oversight processes. As the sole authorizer of DC Public Charter schools, the PCSB now oversees 52 charter schools on 93 campuses, serving nearly 30,000 students, about 40 percent of DC's public school students. PCSB Chairman Jones underscored Baker’s contribution to that growth noting, "The PCSB and the DC charter school community are today widely considered to be on the leading edge of public education reform, in large part because of Josephine Baker's leadership." In recognition of her significant contribution to the charter school movement, Ms. Baker was inducted in the National Charter School Hall of Fame in 2009. 

Members of the local and national charter school communities will come together in early June to celebrate Ms. Baker's many accomplishments and contributions. Members of the community wishing to contribute to and/or participate may contact Nona Richardson at nrichardson@dcpubliccharter.com or 202/328-2670. 

Jeremy Williams, PCSB's director of business oversight, will assume the interim executive director role until a search committee selects a permanent executive director.  Learn more about the PCSB www.dcpubliccharter.com.

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