CharterFolk X Vol 13 – Roger Brainerd and Judith Jones, Tag-Teaming a Movement Into Existence in Maine

Good morning, CharterFolk.

Today I am delighted to recognize Roger Brainerd and Judith Jones, two people who have tag-teamed Maine’s charter school movement into existence, as CharterFolk Extraordinaire.

It’s not often you can find tangible artifacts showing CharterFolk playing critical roles all the way back to the very beginning of a movement. But there we find Roger Brainerd cajoling everyone in Maine to help at a moment when it was “too close to call” whether his state’s original charter school law would pass.

And just a few weeks later, we find him celebrating the fact that in the end the votes were there.

Who was there with him from the very beginning?

That’s right, Judith Jones. There she is, front and center, watching over Governor LePage signing Maine’s charter school legislation into law. I hope you can find a few minutes to view this clip showing how Roger and Judith have been tag-teaming on charter school advocacy in Maine since before the very beginning.

Not that this was new territory for either of them.

Judith had played an important role supporting the passage of DC’s charter school law in 1995, and was a co-founder of FOCUS, DC’s first charter school support organization. And when she decided to move to Maine, it was only natural that she would become a founder of the Maine Charter School Association years before Maine’s charter school law would even become law.

Roger had also been involved for years, all the way back to 1993 in fact, 18 years before the passage of Maine’s charter school law.

It shows that the charter school movement just doesn’t happen. It comes down to extremely committed supporters of charter schools … you know, CharterFolk … making it happen.

Over the years, Roger and Judith have proven an extremely committed tag-team …

… helping Maine’s movement grow to open ten charter schools serving students coming from nearly 300 townships across the state.

It’s a number that’s not nearly enough.

Recently, close friends of mine moved to Maine. They told me about the challenge of finding a place of residence within the attendance boundaries of the elementary, middle and high schools they think right for their family. Within that narrow slice of Portland, they found that there were literally no places for rent, meaning they had to live in the basement of a friend until a rental opened up.

That is how limited high quality educational opportunity is in parts of Maine.

But despite that, Maine’s charter schools find themselves in a period of unprecedented attack.

Roger and Judith continue slugging it out, recently helping Maine’s charter schools to recruit John Mullaney, the strong new Executive Director driving advocacy efforts in support of Maine’s charter schools.

No doubt, the challenge is high. Some say that, like the approval of Maine’s charter school law in the first place, “it’s too close to call” whether Maine’s charter school law will survive the tough years ahead.

My bet? Given that Roger and Judith are still there tag-teaming, I foresee Maine’s CharterFolk coming together to make it happen once again on behalf of all the kids and communities they have grown to serve.

It’s all the more reason it is entirely fitting that we recognize here Roger and Judith as the very tag-teaming embodiment of CharterFolk Extraordinaire.