We’ve all heard someone say something and immediately did a double take. And we say to ourselves, did I just hear what I think I heard?
This was certainly my reaction the first time I heard what Soner Tarim, the Woodland Prep “education consultant,” said when questioned back in June by a member of the Texas state school board. Tarim was trying to get approval to build four new charter schools in Austin.
Board member Aicha Davis of Dallas wanted to know why the Woodland Prep application for Washington County was turned down by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers before being approved by the Alabama charter school commission. She first asked Tarim who prepared the application. He quickly told her that he did.
Then it got interesting when she followed up by asking why NACSA said the application should be denied. In so many words, Tarim told her that NACSA didn’t know how to grade a charter application. (This is quite an accusation considering that a source with NACSA told me they have reviewed 500 applications in the last 10 years. They were also the only reviewing agency Alabama had ever used until Tarim came along. So according to him, apparently Alabama should never have hired NASCA.)
He then followed up this statement by saying that Alabama didn’t know how to grade an application either until he told them how to do it. That’s when my jaw dropped.
So a guy from Texas who is trying to make money in Alabama tells the charter commission what they should do?
(Check for yourself, you can see the video here. Go to the 35:50 minute mark to hear the exchange I refer to.)
If Tarim told the truth, this is more than unbelievable. It is conduct way outside the bounds on the part of the charter commission. Did you ever have a teacher or professor who let you grade your own test? What would have happened to such a teacher if the principal found out what they were doing? There would have been hell to pay for starters. And a good chance someone would have lost their job.
Or maybe Tarim was not telling the truth. After all, one of the reasons he did not get his four charters in Austin approved was that board members caught him constantly trying to make up his own facts. As we posted here, board member Georgina Perez told me in a telephone interview that Tarim loves to use “alternative facts.”
Whatever the case may be, it is just another example of what a mess the Woodland Prep effort to put a charter in Washington County really is. Either the charter commission is dealing with someone who can not be trusted, or they are so negligent in their own duties that they can not be trusted.
It’s a classic case of how NOT to conduct business.