I cannot remember when I first met Mr. McKoy, but I do recall the impression he made upon me. The man epitomizes class. During his over six year tenure on the board and as head of the PCSB he consistently interacted with everyone he met in a manner that exuded dignity and respect, no matter their point of view. This approach was especially important because during his two years as chair he faced a couple of the most difficult issues that the organization had experienced in its twenty year history. Of course, I’m referring to the financial irregularities that were uncovered at Options PCS and Dorothy I. Height Community Academy PCS. His steady calm leadership led to both situations being resolved for the betterment of the students attending these institutions and for the nation’s capital as a whole.
There were many other accomplishments. Mr. McKoy continued the emphasis on quality that was begun under the fine direction of prior PCSB chairman Brian Jones. By the time he left his position in 2015, D.C.’s charter school movement had seen an increase of 59 percent in the number of pupils attending Performance Management Framework Tier 1 schools from the PMF baseline 2010 to 2011 term and, perhaps more significantly, a 74 percent reduction over the same period in the number of students in Tier 3 facilities. About a dozen charters that were not meeting standards were closed.
Both the District of Columbia International School and the unified lottery, My School DC, were created with Mr. McKoy at the helm at the PCSB. Moreover, I cannot forget one of my favorite of his achievements, in that I am now able to watch the proceedings of board meetings over the Internet in the comfort of my home.
Mr. McKoy sat down with me for a couple of interviews during his tenure as Chairman. He was always forthcoming, honest, and warm. Even when he was in the middle of the Options and Community Academy controversies he would answer my questions. He also had no reluctance to let me know, softly, where he thought I had got something wrong. The former PCSB chair did all of this and more because of his unwavering commitment to kids living in Washington D.C., something that also drove his strong work for years as head of programmatic initiatives at Fight for Children. From my first interview:
“We can get to the point where each child is learning in a quality seat. We owe it to our parents and students. We have the structure, most of the resources, and talent to get there with the schools we have. We recognize that we are working in a political environment. Our charter schools have autonomy provided through the School Reform Act, but we must understand we are operating with public money. It has been the freedom to create and innovate that has led to the sector’s success and that must not be impeded.”
Congratulations on your award Mr. McKoy.