D.C. Charter School Pioneer Named to National Public Charter Schools Hall of Fame

Monday, June 22, 2009
News Release
3333 14th Street, N.W.,  Suite 210
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Phone: 202-328-2660

For Immediate Release: June 22, 2009
Contact: Audrey Williams 202/328-2748

Washington, D.C. - She has been a pioneer and a gentle giant in the charter school movement in the District of Columbia. For that Josephine Baker, executive director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board, will be named to the National Public Charter Schools Hall of Fame during the National Charter School Conference in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, June 23, 2009. She is one of three national education leaders to be named to the Hall of Fame this year.

 Baker was a founding member of the D.C. Public Charter School Board (PCSB), the second charter school authorizer created to be independent of the traditional public school system. She served as the first chairperson of the PCSB from February 1997 until she was asked to assume the executive director position in 2002. She has been an integral part of the growth and success of the charter school community in Washington, D.C. earning praise from charter school authorizers across the country. Under her leadership as Board Chair and then Executive Director, the Public Charter School Board has grown from a small staff of 4 committed individuals establishing policies and monitoring nine schools to an efficient staff of 23 monitoring 57 schools on 93 campuses serving more than 25,000 students in every ward of the city. The PCSB is now the sole charter school authorizer in Washington, D.C.

 "Anyone who has been involved in any way with charter schools in Washington, D.C. knows that Josephine Baker has played an important role since the beginning," said Tom Nida, PCSB Board Chair. "Her induction is a great tribute to her pioneering work and her contributions to education reform in D.C."

 Baker's commitment to the charter movement extends far beyond Washington, D.C. In 2001 she was elected a founding member of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and is the past chair of the organization that provides support to charter school authorizers across the country. Baker's expertise and knowledge of charter school authorizing has been tapped nationally where she has been a presenter to many state board of education commissions, state legislatures and task forces dealing with charter school issues. She was asked to evaluate the U.S. Department of Education's Charter Schools Program.

 Baker has deep roots in D.C. public education. She was educated in D.C. public schools, taught elementary school in DCPS for 25 years and supported the education of each of her three children in DCPS schools. She served as Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at George Washington University for four years, teaching aspiring teachers.

 Recipients of the Public Charter Schools Hall of Fame award are selected on the basis of their pioneering efforts in the development/growth of charter schools; long-term commitment and contributions to charter schools and education; innovative ideas and successful implementation of those ideas; and inspiration to others in the charter school movement.