Rotary Club of Portland Maine USA

*08/10/18 Dr Judith Jones, Maine Assn of Charter Schools

Posted by Matt Wolcott

Dr. Judith Jones has a B.A. from Middlebury College, a M.A. from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a Ph.D. from the City University of New York Graduate Center. She began her career in International Relations and worked for the US Agency for International Development and the State Department. Following her passion for education, Judith switched careers and became program analyst for the NJ Department of Education when community colleges were initiated and teachers colleges were transformed into liberal arts programs. While living in Washington DC, she became involved with the emerging “Six School Complex” and documented this innovative public school choice program in her 1987 book, Six School Complex: A Successful Innovation in Washington, D.C.’s Public Schools. This led to a dozen years of working with the DC Public School system in a variety of facility planning, education planning, and policy positions.

She became involved with the early efforts to create “public autonomous schools” in DC, leading to the passage of enabling legislation for public charter schools by the DC Council in 1994 and by Congress in 1995. As co-founder of FOCUS, she worked with founders, authorizers, and others to develop a high-quality charter school movement in DC, now serving 44% of all public school children.

In 1998, Judith’s personal focus shifted to the state of Maine, where she and her husband Bill retired. At the time, Maine was one of the 10 states without an enabling charter school law. Judith quickly joined MACS, which was working to bring charter schools to Maine. Judith led the group in formalizing their efforts as a non-profit corporation in June of 2000 and in persisting to convince Maine legislators to enact enabling charter school legislation in June 2011. In Judith’s words…

“Access to good education is an avenue out of poverty, but the existing American system denies this access to many children.  It gives school districts almost complete control over taxpayer dollars and resources. Personal experience has persuaded me that better education outcomes will come only with basic structural changes, including allowing parents to choose schools that meet the needs of their children, with the money following the child, not the political winds of the day.”