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The extraordinary accomplishments of the teachers, school leaders, and students featured here are a great start, but they cannot be the end of the story. I am not satisfied with just talking about top-performing charters as islands of educational excellence. If no man is an island, no school should be either. The question I ask — and that I encourage all educators who read this book to ask — is: Why can’t success be the norm?

I look forward to seeing how outstanding charter schools advance education in the next 25 years. But most of all, I look forward to the day when educational islands of excellence become districts and even states of excellence. I believe it’s possible. I know it’s needed.

    About the Author



    Richard Whitmire

    Richard Whitmire is a senior education fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. He is a former fellow of the Palo Alto-based Emerson Collective, where he spent a year traveling and writing about charter school innovations. Whitmire, a veteran newspaper reporter and regular contributor to The 74, is a former editorial writer at USA Today. He is the author of On the Rocketship: How Top Charter Schools Are Pushing the Envelope and The Bee Eater: Michelle Rhee Takes On the Nation’s Worst School District. Whitmire  also wrote Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons From an Educational System That’s Leaving Them Behind and coauthored The Achievable Dream: College Board Lessons on Creating Great Schools. Whitmire, who is a member of the board of contributors at USA Today, is a former president of the National Education Writers Association. Check out his blog at