Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Tom Nida Is Our Hero 

I'm not talking about a hero to our school. I mean to the D.C. charter school movement. The third correction I would ask the Washington Post to make has to do with their assumption that Mr. Nida made decisions in order to benefit himself and the company for whom he works. While I do not know the details regarding any business transaction except the ones that I have been directly involved with I can say with complete certainty that the motive behind all of Mr. Nida's actions was the welfare of children.

If you really want to catch Mr. Nida in the act of carrying out his volunteer unpaid position as Board Chair you should have seen him address the parents of Washington Academy on the evening that he had to tell them that he was shutting the place down. He spent a couple of hours being yelled at by folks accusing him of taking their school away from them. Mr. Nida explained why the charter board had really no choice in the matter, the school was failing financially. He then worked in rapid fashion to have one of the best existing charter schools in the city take over the two campuses of the shuttered institution. (William E. Doar, Jr. PCS bid to take over the school but we were turned down in a unanimous vote in favor of Howard Road Academy.)

As I've explained to a Washington Post reporter the D.C. Public Charter School Board has two functions. They support the growth of charters and they hold them accountable for their results. It is important that this body play both of these roles in that one tends to balance out the other. For example, if they were to open too many schools too fast then many would have to be closed when they didn't meet their accountability plan targets.

No one understands or has executed these paired objectives better then Tom Nida. He has supported our school when the evidence was there to stand behind us and he rejected our proposals when he felt that they could harm the kids or the strength of WEDJ. This is the story that should have made the paper.

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