New Charter Board Member Confirmation

will be held by the council committee on education next Thursday, May 19, starting at 9:30 am. See here for more details and to sign up to testify.

The mayor’s appointment of lawyer Saba Bireda to the charter board (to replace an outgoing member’s unexpired term) is interesting. Bireda has worked as a political appointee at the U.S. Department of Education and at the Poverty and Race Research Council here in DC.

In 2011, Bireda wrote about cheating on standardized tests by adults in Atlanta’s public schools and said this:

“Almost everyone in education–from parents to the president–agrees that this accountability system doesn’t work. A new approach should encourage the kind of effective teaching and meaningful learning that leads students to success beyond any single year of test data.”

Interestingly, in 2016, a “single year of test data” ensured that the charter for Potomac Prep would not be renewed by the DC charter board.

And, in its responses to questions posed by the council during performance oversight in February and March, the charter board pushed back on providing information about learning conditions in charter schools. Rather, the board noted, it preferred to focus on student performance, including “output measures” such as proficiency rates and growth on standardized tests.

The charter board also noted that measuring “inputs” (presumably including Bireda’s effective teaching and meaningful learning) is “highly burdensome.”

Hmm: Will anyone on the council ask about this?

2 thoughts on “New Charter Board Member Confirmation

  1. It appears from the confirmation hearing notice that’s linked to in this post that Ms. Bireda, if confirmed, will replace Barbara Nophlin. This raises a couple of questions for me. 1-why is Barbara Nophlin leaving? and 2–is there a good bit of turnover on the PCSB or is that just my impression?

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  2. The charter board website has a post about it, available here: http://www.dcpcsb.org/blog/barbara-nophlin-steps-down-pcsb-board

    However, it doesn’t say why she is leaving. It could very well be related to her apparent conflicts of interest with regard to her consulting contracts with DC charter schools (see here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/dc-charter-board-member-has-195000-contract-with-dc-charter-school/2014/07/18/5a4d0f4e-0ebb-11e4-b8e5-d0de80767fc2_story.html) The apparent silence is admittedly odd, given that Nophlin testified before the council less than a year before her resignation, asking to have her term *extended*. (See here: http://www.dcpcsb.org/sites/default/files/report/Testimony%20of%20Barbara%20Nophlin_041615%5B1%5D.pdf)

    Regardless, the issue of charter board turnover is important, especially as our charter schools educate nearly half our DC public ed. students. There is no set timeframe for the service of charter board members, and their arrivals and departures are usually pretty quiet and under the radar, like this, so the public is pretty far removed from the folks who oversee more than half a billion $ of our public ed. money every year.

    As it is, I would never have known that the mayor appointed a charter board replacement but for this announcement of a council hearing. I accept that I am clueless about a lot of things, but I could find nothing on the mayor’s website about it nor on the charter board website.

    That’s not what I would call sunshine.

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