Mary Riner Siddall, who helped bring BASIS to Washington, D.C., reflects on the movie “Won’t Back Down”, and her own experience:
Just like in the film, those of us fighting for this change had to overcome resistance early in the process. Plenty of skeptics, who represented the entrenched bureaucratic interests, said it didn’t make any sense to bring this charter school to Washington. They argued DC kids were different and couldn’t achieve at the same high levels that this renowned charter had achieved with Arizona students. We had to change hearts and minds and create a full public awareness campaign—all the way from the top political leaders and the media down to the grassroots level of parents—in order to give our students the option of attending this great school.
It wasn’t easy. We organized parents to sign our petition, write letters of support and flood our public charter application hearing before the DC Public Charter School Board with moving testimonies of their personal struggles. We held parent information sessions and posted them online. We met with DC Council Members, established charter school leaders, donors, members of the news media, and policymakers to tell them about the educational program and the importance of giving DC families another great school to choose from. In the end, we received nearly unanimous support from the DC Public Charter School Board.
“Parent Empowerment Can Take Many Forms; Here’s My Story”, Mary Riner Siddall, StudentsFirst blog, August 31, 2012.