Tuesday, August 23, 2016

School Takeover Measures Opening Door to Charter Expansion

School Takeover Measures Opening Door to Charter Expansion:

Educators Mobilize as School Takeovers Open Door For Charter Expansion

This Election Day, Georgia will face a constitutional amendment that asks whether the state’s constitution can “be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve school performance?” Their answer will determine whether the Peach State will follow the footsteps of Louisiana, Tennessee, and Michigan, where voters said “Yes.”
To some, the question may sound noble. But Carly Shaw, a middle school teacher for Georgia’s Fulton County Schools, knows better. She wants others to know better, too.
“The language on the ballot basically says the governor would have the right to take over any school that’s low performing,” says Shaw, who is a teacher and vice president of the Fulton County Association of Educators. “But, it doesn’t get to the meat of the matter of what this means.”
If history is any indication of what this could mean, Georgia will be among several states to fragment school authority, disenfranchise communities of color, and ignore parent and community concerns.

A Sleeping Giant

School takeovers are not a new concept. According to The Trentonian, New Jersey took control of Jersey City’s schools in 1989, and is considered “the first state to mount such a takeover.” The state returned some elements of control back to the city in 2007 and 2014. This year, it was announced that the city was expected to regain full control.
What is relatively new, or different, about the takeovers of today is states now can yank individual schools out of their local districts and place them in a state-managed district, which then typically turns them over to charter operators.
“It’s turning it from retail privatization to whole sale privatization,” says Leigh Dingerson, a consultant for the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, a national policy research and reform-support organization. “Instead of privatizing one school at a time . . . they can take over a whole set of schools in one fell swoop.”
school takeovers fact sheet
The Facts About State Takeovers of Public Schools Source: The Alliance to Reclaim Our Public Schools (Click to Enlarge)
The first model of this kind comes from Louisiana.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina awoke a sleeping giant: Act 9, a 2003 law that made way for the Recovery School District (RSD). The law gave authority to the state education department to pull low-performing schools out of local control and operate the school itself, or contract with a university or a charter operator.
While the law applied to the entire state, its focus was on New Orleans.
In 2004, one middle school in the city was put under RSD and designated to run as a charter school. Four more schools followed in 2005.
At the time, Dingerson described Act 9 as a “sleeper” that didn’t generate much attention. “But when the storm hit, I think the charter industry recognized Katrina as School Takeover Measures Opening Door to Charter Expansion:

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