Turning Around Public Schools or Taking Away Public Schools?
The public school Turn Around bill (SB 1498), which would push privatization to new levels, advanced out of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education meeting today. As written, this bill would:
- Throw a school district into instant turnaround status upon earning its first D or F grade (currently, a school would not face a turnaround model unless it receives two consecutive D’s or one F grade).
- If a D or F turnaround school does not earn a C or better within one year, the Commissioner of Education may recommend closing the school, re-purpose it as a charter school, or assign it to an external operator.
- Allows state universities or colleges to be considered as external operators, therefore bypassing school board authority.
- Makes no provision to restore “turnaround” schools to the district.
- Shortens the time allowed for school districts to help struggling schools.
- Accelerates path to privatize or close low performing schools.
- Robs districts of their constitutional authority to oversee their own schools.
- Grants the Commissioner of Education new powers to deny district requests by closing schools.
In the words of a fifth grade public school student who testified in the committee meeting today, “My school grade doesn’t tell you the best parts about my school. My school has helped me grow as a student and as a person. If the state forces her school to close, her family will lose its education choice and her neighborhood will lose a place that brings people together.” We couldn’t agree more.
We need to unite our voices to save our public schools! Please contact members of the Senate Appropriations Committee (the next and final committee stop) and tell them to amend Senate Bill 1498 by leaving school districts, particularly those that are “A” and “B” rated with a proven track record of improving schools, the full flexibility to improve school performance locally.
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