I am a veteran newspaper reporter and former editorial writer at USA Today. My first book after leaving USA Today was Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Education System That’s Leaving Them Behind. The dilemma of boys falling behind in school was a topic I wrote about frequently for the editorial page.
Former DC schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee wrote the foreword for the boys book, and she became the focus of my next book, The Bee Eater: Michelle Rhee Takes on the Nation’s Worst School District.
Then, the College Board asked me to help out on collaboration with retiring College Board President Gaston Caperton. That book: The Achievable Dream: College Board Lessons on Creating Great Schools.
The next book, On the Rocketship, arose out of Achievable Dream, where Rocketship charters made up one chapter. Rocketship co-founders, John Danner and Preston Smith, granted me access into their schools and their decision making, with no expectation of editorial control. The book was about more than Rocketship. I visited cities where high performing charters entered into unique, collaborative relationships with traditional school districts and all benefited.
I was struck by that potential of the high performing charter schools I reported on during the Rocketship book and decided to take that research a step further, asking two questions: What made these schools so effective and where are they taking charter schools in the future?
I spent a year as a fellow with the Emerson Collective, which allowed me to visit many of the top charter schools in the country. That research continued as a Kauffman fellow, and the result is my latest book, The Founders, in which I share untold anecdotes about the leaders, advocates, philanthropists and partners who helped spark an education revolution across the country. This year I will continue my work using a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.
Again, the focus is on the potential: How can these schools collaborate with traditional districts and what do their next-generation school models tell about where all schools are headed?