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Stephanie Klupinski: "If you're not happy with the status quo, then change the status quo"

LEE member Stephanie Klupinski's job is to make sure that the dream of a charter school -- what they say they're going to do in a contract -- is actually happening in the classroom. In her role as Executive Director of Charter Schools for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, she spends a lot of time in schools, observing classes, talking to teachers, talking with administrators, and also "trying to get a better sense of what they need from the school district in order to help them do a better job."

She has worked with hundreds of charter schools across Ohio -- a state often derided for low-quality charter schools -- in an effort to put students first and improve school quality. Which, she says, often puts her in a conundrum "because sometimes focusing on school quality means stopping certain charters from opening and shutting certain charters down. That's not a popular position to take when some of those poor-performing charters are your members."

Still, she says, policy is the perfect place to be if you really want to change the way things work -- where people work to get a seat at the table, compromise, and move things forward. Because, as she says, "if you're not happy with the status quo then change the status quo."