- Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
- Howard Fuller, Black Alliance for Educational Options and Founder and Director of the Institute for Transformation of Learning at Marquette University
- Don Shalvey, Deputy Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- John Darrow, CEO and Co-founder of Rocketship Education
The panel discussion was largely about where the charter school movement has come in its 20 year history and what the next 20 years will hold.The highlight of the comments was Howard Fuller's assertion that, "You collaborate when you can, cooperate when you can, but you've got to be ready to fight!" John Darrow noted that oftentimes school districts don't want to admit they can learn from their charter schools, but that the Superintendent in San Jose said he was glad to have the leverage with his district-school Principals. In San Jose, Rocketship has 30 schools, but there are 90 schools failing.
Panelists speculated that the next 20 years will include:
- continuing to advocate for equal funding
- lifting the caps on the number of charter schools
- identifying more leaders of color and providing them with the same opportunities others had
- and according to Don Shalvey, "Quit acting like charter schools need to live in warehouses! Get them regular school buildings."
John Darrow also said that charter schools are just beginning to realize that we're in a highly political system and he talked about the importance of influencing state and federal policy.
The recent trend toward replicating successful schools was discussed when John Merrow asked panelists if they thought mostly Charter Management Organization (CMO) schools should be approved rather than grassroots startups. Nina Rees was quick to point out that it was primarily quality that should be considered and not the association with a CMO or EMO (Education Management Organization). Don Shalvey said it's not "an either/or." Howard Fuller addressed the importance of grassroots startups to the movement and the importance of giving parents quality educational options.