Despite a lack of clear results, the Tennessee Department of Education continues to use the Achievement School District as a means of taking over district schools in Memphis.
The latest round of forced disruption comes as Shelby County Schools says the two schools being targeted are on a district-led path to improvement.
In their first public discussion of an intervention plan outlined this month by the Tennessee Department of Education, members of Shelby County’s board of education said they aren’t convinced the most drastic recommendations will work for Hawkins Mill Elementary and American Way Middle schools.
The state has recommended closing Hawkins Mill because of its low enrollment and poor academic performance. American Way is on the state’s track either for takeover by Tennessee’s Achievement School District or transfer to a charter organization chosen by Shelby County Schools beginning in the fall of 2019.
Board members pointed out that the ASD simply isn’t working, and the results from schools in the ASD for five consecutive years demonstrate she’s correct.
Board member Miska Clay Bibbs, whose district includes American Way, was opposed to both of the state’s intervention options.
“What you’re suggesting is something that’s not working,” Bibbs said of the ASD’s track record of school turnaround based on its charter-driven model.
Bibbs added that any improvement plan for American Way must be comprehensive and offered up a resolution for consideration next week to move the school into the iZone next school year.
The Achievement School District has been fraught with problems from the outset, from hosting happy hours to recruit teachers to a lack of transparency to pitting schools and communities against each other in a fight for survival. Then, of course, there’s the apparent mission creep, which could be why the program has faced so many challenges.
Now, the Shelby County School Board is pushing back. Will the Tennessee Department of Education force disruption on these two schools, or will they allow SCS to move forward on their own improvement path?
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