Testimony of Dr. Michelle J. Walker-Davis, Executive Director DC Public Charter School Board
Good afternoon, Chairman Mendelson and members of the Committee of the Whole. I am Dr. Michelle Walker-Davis, Executive Director of the DC Public Charter School Board. I want to thank you for holding this hearing today and allowing me to testify in support of the nominations of Shukurat Adamoh-Faniyan, Shantelle Wright, Nick Rodriguez, and the re-nomination of Lea Crusey. And I would like to thank the mayor for putting their nominations forward.
For those unaware, the DC PCSB is the sole public charter school authorizer in DC. Our Board members are responsible for making decisions to ensure families in the District have access to high quality and equitable educational opportunities across the city. Our mission and Strategic Roadmap put students front and center, and I believe that all four nominees have demonstrated their steadfast commitment to students throughout the years. As DC PCSB orients our work around our strategic priorities of Excellent Schools, Enduring Partnerships, and Effective Organization, our Board needs to be our guide. And I have great confidence that the nominees have the experiences and perspectives which qualify them for these roles.
As former school leaders at Achievement Prep and Democracy Prep Public Charter Schools, Ms. Wright’s and Ms. Adamoh-Faniyon’s, commitment to the students of DC and the value of their expertise is clear. They have firsthand experience supporting our students, teachers, and families. They understand the challenges that many of our most underserved families face and the educational choices they want and deserve, because they were in school buildings for years helping hundreds of families in those circumstances. They know what it takes to create an excellent school community and the challenges which create barriers to doing that. Their work also provided them an understanding of how District policies directly impact schools and they can speak to that in their work on the Board. The unique and valuable perspectives they gained from these positions has been missing in recent years from our Board, and we look forward to filling that gap.
Ms. Wright’s time leading Achievement Prep developed her leadership expertise, which will inform our work on our priority of effective organization. She is also a lawyer by trade and she will bring her deep understanding of the law to her role. I know her experience in this field will allow her to be a deliberative and astute Board member ready to ask incisive questions.
Ms. Adamoh-Faniyan’s qualifications also go beyond her experience as a school leader. Since leaving Democracy Prep, she has been at the helm of Reading Partners DC. Under her leadership, the organization works to give students access to high-quality tutoring and to bridge the literacy gap. Given this work, she will bring a background in enduring and growing partnerships to the Board. Her work with Reading Partners also proves her acumen at running an effective and financially sound organization, both of which are areas of expertise the Board needs.
Mr. Rodriguez has shown dedication to public service throughout his career. He has served as a member of the Boards of Capital City and Two Rivers Public Charter Schools and as an adjunct professor at American University. Mr. Rodriguez’s experience as an LEA Board member will be essential. He will provide insight and expertise on how DC PCSB policies impact the decision making of an LEA’s Board. He will also bring the knowledge gained from financial oversight of those institutions with him. In addition, Mr. Rodriguez has conducted education research throughout his career which is a necessary perspective to have on the Board. I know that his time in these roles has provided him with the knowledge and understanding necessary to serve DC’s families.
And lastly, Ms. Crusey has proven herself to be devoted to DC’s public charter schools throughout her career and in her time on the Board. As a nearly four year Board member and current Chair, she was instrumental in our strategic planning process and continues to be a leading voice in implementing our Strategic Roadmap. She is a thoughtful and engaged member who routinely asks deliberate questions and continues to bring her perspective as a former classroom teacher to her work. Her work as a Board member reflects her commitment to the community and readiness to bring more equity to our processes and practices.
A full Board will be crucial for complete implementation of our Strategic Roadmap since the nominees bring varied experiences which address our different priorities. With upcoming school reviews, renewals, and applications, DC PCSB looks forward to having a full Board, with varied perspectives, engage in those decisions.
For these reasons, I ask that you vote to confirm all the nominees to the Board. Thank you again for allowing me to testify before you today; I am happy to answer any questions.