"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, April 17, 2015

Governor Haslam Wants to Allow CorpEd's Barbic to Recruit Outside ASD School Boundaries

Tennessee's Achievement School District (ASD) was sold on the premise that its charter schools replace the lowest scoring public schools in the state, and in the process the corporate charters would raise the scores for the bottom 5 percent of public school populations up into the top 25 percent within five years.  State test score data would be used to label schools for "priority status," and the ASD would be free to use the list to target schools, beginning with those with the best real estate value, for shutdown and charter conversion.

A former CEO (Chris Barbic) of a Texas charter chain, Yes Prep, was hired to be the state's ASD superintendent in charge of handing out contracts to his buds around the country in the charter industry, with Tennessee taxpayers on the hook to pay the hundreds of millions to build this new corporate welfare operation.

Hitler once observed that a lie must be beyond mere exaggeration in order for people to believe that it must be true for, as the rationale goes, no one in his right mind would make up something that appears so obviously fantastical.  It must be true.  Well, we are now in year 3 of Barbic's grand lie of moving the bottom 5 percent into the top 25 percent within 5 years, and even those who wanted to believe such fanciful academic promises have come to realize what a outrageous lie that was from the beginning.

Unless, of course, Barbic gets lots of help to rewrite the rule and the reason for ASD's existence, to begin with.

Enter Governor Bill Haslam and Josh Edelman of the Gates Foundation to come up with a plan to help Barbic and his staff of former TFA robots to propose that ASD schools should be allowed to recruit students from outside the districts they were meant to serve and save.  Remember those lowest scoring community schools?
The proposal would permit select out-of-zone students — those who qualify for free-and-reduced lunch, who have failed statewide achievement tests, or whose parents or relatives work at an ASD school — to comprise up to 25 percent of students in any school operated through the ASD, most of which have been transitioned to charter school operators. Currently, only students who are zoned to a school in the ASD or another school in the bottom 5 percent are qualified to attend a school in the turnaround district.
With charter chains like KIPP and Yes Prep reluctant to come into situations where their brands could be tarnished by low test scorers, and with hundreds of million$ of public dollars on the table to run the corporate welfare charters that everyone in TN is excited about except the taxpayers, the ASD's reason for being, i.e., improving community schools, is suddenly not nearly as important as making ASD seem less than the crumbling failure that it is.

This latest move represents a clear sign of desperation among high rollers who wanted to make Memphis into another NOLA.  Parents and teachers across the state are calling for Barbic's bald head, and it seems to me that all of Haslam's horses and all of Haslam's men will not be able put the ASD back together again. 

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