Nada On Nida

Turns out that the Washington Post’s editorial board did have it right all along and DC Charter School Board Chair Tom Nida did nothing improper.

5 Replies to “Nada On Nida”

  1. Anyone tempted to agree with the statement that Thomas Nida did nothing improper as chair of the DC charter school board seriously needs to slap himself upside the head, take a walk out into the brisk 18-degree air to clear his head, and say “What was I thinking?”

    A charter school board must make decisions for educational reasons, and, as reformers like Michelle Rhee constantly tell us, in the interests of children and not the adults involved. The December 14 Washington Post article made abundantly clear that Mr. Nida played a leading role in board decisions (no matter whether he “abstained” from the final vote) that revolved not around the educational needs of children or schools, but instead around the complicated machinations required to complete various real estate and development deals that brought him and his employer financial reward. Moreover, some of his actions clearly violated the independence and autonomy of the charter schools under his supervision by virtually substituting his own decisions regarding facilities and enrollment ceilings for those of charter school leaders.

    Whether Mr. Nida technically violated current DC conflict-of-interest laws is beside the point. Key purposes of boards like the one that Nida leads are to provide a level playing field and limit the negative impact that the prospect of personal and corporate financial gain too often have on the appropriate expenditure of public dollars. Neither purpose can possibly be served when decisions made by a board member bring direct personal financial benefit, as was the case with Mr. Nida.

    Charter schools are thriving in large part because so many parents long ago lost faith the probity of the regular public school systems. Vigilance against the Thomas Nidas of the world is necessary to ensure that the charter school movement does not suffer the same fate.

  2. What I am thinkng is what part of

    Review Finds No Breach By Charter Board Leader

    District Attorney General Peter Nickles has decided that the chairman of the public charter school board did not violate the city’s conflict-of-interest law when he took official actions involving schools, landlords or developers financed by his bank.

    is unclear?

  3. Public officials do not own what they are in charge of. Therefore, educrats have less incentive to care about long term capital values-in this case- of a charter school. Instead, charter school directors are structurally inclined to exploit their offices with immediate and special interest in mind. This economic law does not rule out that a few saintly people might occupy these positions. It just means that the system is inherently working against morality, regardless of the character of those involved.

  4. Those of us in the DC public charter school community who know and have worked with Tom Nida were appalled by the Post’s indictment of him. I and my colleagues have never known Tom to act in any way that didn’t put the best interests of children first. It is encouraging to see that our attorney general has come to that conclusion as well.

  5. I read AG Nichols piece, including the portion quoted. The AG hastily found no acts he would prosecute as illegal. Bill Cordes had it right, except about the “key purpose of board…..” They are, presumably, to assure fair play among those within the charter school sector. As for maximizing the benefits to be secured from the public purse when DCPS is so negligent of so many students under its care? Well, loyalty to his purpose, stronger charter schools, prevails, then.

    The only issue here is what is considered ethical behavior. Most of the facts are not in question. Should Nida act in what he thinks are the best interests of the charter school sector, much as the Commissioner of Baseball does? Why his view of the best interests of charter schools be what it is was the subject of the story. It happens that “orderly growth” of the many charter schools coincides with the ability of all schools who have borrowed money to repay their loans. Nida, in his role, acted to see that the growth was orderly.

    Eduwonk offers, in defense, nothing more compelling than what has been offered to explain, say, recent year end bonuses at M-L : They were expected. They make “business sense.”

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