PHOTO: Tajuana Cheshier/Chalkbeat TN
Look at what happened in Memphis this week, and then tell me that teachers, students, and parents standing up together doesn't matter.
Within minutes after parents and teachers lined up to express their disgust with the planned corporate takeover of their schools, Hopson came up with a new scheme, this one hardly better than the first one.
In response to the state’s steady takeover of Memphis schools, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said Tuesday night that he would propose expanding his own turnaround efforts known as the iZone, and the school board’s chairwoman said she would push for a legislative moratorium on the Achievement School District’s expansion.
Hopson’s and board Chairwoman Teresa Jones’ comments came shortly after more than 20 parents and teachers accused board members of allowing schools to be taken over by the state and charter schools.
“It’s time for you guys to do your jobs,” said Kenneth Ingram, a parent at American Way Middle School. “Put a stop to this. Another charter school coming from another state and taking over our school? We’re not going to allow that to happen. Please do your job.”
Neither the board nor the Shelby County Schools administration has legal control over the Achievement School District’s takeovers of low-performing public schools, Hopson and board members repeatedly reminded the public Tuesday. The takeover process has led to contentious protests at several community meetings this week.
Hopson said he will propose to board members in the coming weeks closing several schools and merging them into one school that would join the iZone. Similar to charter schools, iZone schools are given waivers from state laws, require teachers to reapply for their jobs, and receive extra resources to try innovative strategies to improve test scores. Unlike charter schools, the iZone schools remain under district control.
“We’ve been kicking around some numbers and without any extra money, we would look at combining two or three schools and bring them in the iZone,” Hopson said. “That would take a few more low-performing schools out of play (for ASD takeover). At the end of the day, though it’s about what is going to be best for the kids.” . . . .
If Hopson and the Shelby County School Board want to match some schools, they should start matching economically disadvantaged schools with those that are not. Mix the schools so that no more than 40 percent are poor, provide professional development for teachers and principals, infuse new resources, and then give it three years to see if improvements don't materialize.
Meanwhile, the entire process of labeling schools should be audited to determine whose politcal machinations are involved to make sure that only black schools get set up for closure, when mixed schools like Cordova have weaker test scores. Cordova, in fact, is on neither the Priority or the Focus list of low-testing state schools. Who's pulling the strings to make sure the new penal system of pedagogy only comes to black schools?