I have to admit, I was kind of bummed to hear this. Lord knows I have issues with charter schools, but I do recognize they are here. If you were going to have someone do the job, Jennifer Nagourney was the right choice to run the Charter School Office at the Delaware Department of Education. She inherited a huge mess and had to put out a lot of fires during her time. But she did it with grace and aplomb during a very troubling era of Delaware charter schools. I know I kept her busy, but the reality is it would have been a great deal worse had someone else been in the job. There were many things going on she had absolutely no control of. The actions of others in charters who were doing what they did long before her time.
I remember attending an Enrollment Preference Task Force meeting at the end of 2014. The subject for the members was if charter schools should have pre-admission assessments. There was a lot of lively discussion on the subject. Nagourney was filling in for Mark Murphy at that meeting. When it came time for her to submit her opinion, she openly stated she was against pre-admission assessments. At least with the people I was sitting with, a collective jaw-drop occurred. I knew at that moment Nagourney wasn’t the typical charter leader.
Nagourney and I had more than our fair share of issues, but those were the roles the fates set up for us. In the end though, I think she made a lot of much-needed changes for Delaware charter schools. They aren’t perfect. Nothing in education is and ever will be. But she pushed transparency from the charters, and if you compare charter school websites from before her time to the way they are now, they are much better. She held charters accountable for their actions and some didn’t survive the challenge. Some made strides to be better schools than they were before. Formal Reviews won’t be the same without her. She was a perfectionist and made sure every possible detail was included on the DOE website. That was a good thing!
Jennifer’s last day at the DOE will be July 1st. From what I hear, she will be working for the New York City Department of Education and will be their Director of Charter Policy and Strategy. This will be a much bigger role for her. All I can say is good luck with Eva Moskowitz!