Charter founder may be headed for ed post
Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray is scheduled to roll out his education appointments next week, and one of them is widely expected to be Joshua Kern, co-founder and executive director of Thurgood Marshall Academy, the high-performing law-themed public charter high school in Anacostia. Kern has been a go-to figure during the transition, and played a leading role in helping Gray calm private donors who got the jitters when Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and former chancellor Michelle A. Rhee left the picture. The betting is he'll land a top job, possibly deputy mayor for education.
Gray was never happy with the current DME, the soft-spoken Victor Reinoso, and picked at him mercilessly in council oversight hearings for everything except his shirt-tie combination. He wants the next DME to be point person for executing his vision of a birth-to-24 educational system in the District.
Asked late Friday afternoon if he expected to continue at Thurgood Marshall, which he opened in 2000 after graduating from Georgetown Law School, Kern said: "No comment."
Gray speaks highly of Kern every chance he gets. "A guy I have enormous respect for," he told The Post's Jay Mathews a few weeks ago. Bringing Kern on board would also reinforce his promise to pay more attention to the city's charter sector, which often took a back seat in the Fenty-Rhee era. Kern won Gray's respect a decade ago, when the fledgling school was housed in the basement of Congress Heights United Methodist Church. Kern was about to lose his lease, and was looking at sites on the other side of the river when he reached out to Gray, then executive director of Covenant House. Gray urged him to find a way to stay where he was.
"I remember the conversation like it was yesterday," Kern recalled in a recent interview. "He said, 'You know, Josh, a lot of people come to Ward 8 to do the kind of work you're doing, but they pack their bags and leave. If you really want to make a difference here, you need to stick it out, even if you have to close up for a year."
Kern managed to strike a new deal with the church, and stayed.
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| December 10, 2010; 6:02 PM ET
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