KIPP, the highly-regarded charter school network with 209 schools across the country serving 90,000 students, announced today the appointment of Richard Buery as Chief of Policy and Public Affairs. KIPP Chief Executive Richard Barth told the Wall Street Journal that Buery “will be responsible for advocating for federal and state policies that make it easier for low-income students to afford college and overcome other barriers to success.” More specifically, Buery will sit on KIPP’s Senior Leadership Team and Operating Committee, overseeing KIPP’s government affairs, advocacy, marketing, and communications. Notably he will lead KIPP’s efforts to foster collaboration with school districts, community organizations, and non-profits.
“We could not be more thrilled to have Rich join the KIPP team and family,” said Barth. “He has dedicated his life to working to create a better world for young people across New York City. He will help KIPP develop the policy changes and partnerships needed to increase opportunities for students at KIPP and the broader community.”
KIPP has five schools in New York City and two in Albany.
Previously, Buery spent four years in City Hall implementing Mayor de Blasio’s Pre-Kindergarten for All initiative in his position as Deputy Mayor for strategic policy initiatives.
Rumors had been circulating that Buery might serve as NYC’s Schools Chancellor after Carmen Fariña’s retirement but he told Politico that he “never had any ambition to take over Tweed Courthouse.” (This afternoon Mayor de Blasio announced, post last week’s Carvalho debacle, that the new Chancellor is Houston schools superintendent, Richard A. Carranza.)
Buery, the son of a NYC schoolteacher, graduated from NYC’s Stuyvesant High School and then went to Harvard at age 16. He attended Yale Law School, headed up the Children’s Aid Society, taught at an orphanage in Zimbabwe, and ran Kenneth Reeves’ successful campaign for mayor of Cambridge (Reeves was the first openly-gay African-American man to be mayor of any city.)
In 2012 he founded Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School in the South Bronx. He wrote at the time that charter schools can provide “valuable alternatives to existing options for the students they serve, particularly those charter schools focused on serving traditionally under-served groups of students like English Language Learners, foster children or children living in temporary housing.” Buery also served on the Board of an Achievement First charter in East New York, where he grew up.
Buery stands apart from his colleagues for being a longtime supporter of charters and maintains close relationships with some of the nation’s most prominent charter advocates. Those efforts did not always bear fruit, although charter sources indicate that the mayor’s philosophical antipathy toward charters was more to blame than Buery’s attempts at peacemaking.
Steven Wilson, chief executive officer of the Ascend charter network, told Chalkbeat that “in Rich, we had a natural ally. He understood our constraints and challenges, and was always willing to give voice to them with the Mayor.”
Buery told Chalkbeat that he had tried to bridge the divide between members of the charter sector and City Hall, but the “really toxic, ugly politics that we have” sometimes got in the way.
“There’s still too much unnecessary negativity and ad hominem attacks and I don’t think it’s productive,” he said. “We’d do a lot better if we spent more time talking and less time yelling.”