The House Education committee will consider HB1080, Rep. Rob Bryan’s proposal to create an Achievement School District on May 25, 2016. HB1080 will take over 5 low-performing local schools and put them into a special state-run district, with a superintendent chosen by a special committee headed by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. The ASD superintendent will have the power to negotiate operation contracts with private, or even for-profit, charter operators to take control of these schools away from local school boards.
“The goal of this bill from my perspective is to continue to pilot the way that we can get kids who are not performing where we want them to be to performing at grade-level or above as quickly as possible,” said Rep. Bryan. “For all of us, it’s not quickly enough.”
ASDs have so far been shown as inefficient and they waste tax dollars that are better spent in public schools.
North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson maintains that NC should stick to the proven turnaround model currently used by NCDPI.
So far, all of the meetings regarding an ASD have failed to account for the lack of adequate resources for low-performing schools, including expanding access to preschool programs, more flexible calendar years, and wraparound services for low income children.
The calendar issue is one that Dr. Atkinson mentioned: …”students in low-performing schools can lose two to three months of reading development during traditional schools’ summer break. … We have to address these root causes or we’ll continue to have these conversations 10 years from now,” said Atkinson.
North Carolina should not implement a model that is unsuccessful, unaccountable, inequitable, and actually harmful to some vulnerable students. The state should not take over struggling schools without providing accountability to the local community, especially since ASDs do not guarantee improved student outcomes. Turning low-performing schools around is an urgent and worthy goal, but ASDs do not succeed, and there is no reason to believe that unfunded Innovation Zones and principal turnaround models will do any better.