New Name, Same Game

Chalkbeat reports that while Tennessee’s Achievement School District (ASD) may effectively be ending, another state-run charter-centric district may emerge to take its place.

Tennessee’s proposal to move all 30 schools out of its struggling turnaround district is already sparking debate about exactly who should run them if the plan gets legislative approval.

House Education Committee Chairman Mark White says any charter schools in the Achievement School District should be entrusted to the state’s new charter commission — not their local districts.

But Rep. Antonio Parkinson says White’s plan would just create an ASD under a different name:

“Moving these schools to the new charter commission would amount to a sleight of hand,” said Parkinson, a Memphis Democrat. “It would just essentially create another state-run district that’s called by another name.”

In fact, that’s exactly what happened in Nevada:

Nevada took a similar approach last year when closing its achievement district after struggling to attract charter operators and facing intense pushback from the communities it served. Four charters from that district now operate under a state-run charter school authority.

The State Charter Commission, Gov. Bill Lee’s vehicle for usurping local school board authority and privatizing public schools, is still in the startup phase. White’s proposal verifies the intent of the Commission — to undermine public education by continuing the proliferation of charter schools.

Also, it’s not clear why White believes this commission will be any better at managing the ASD charters than the ASD was. By contrast, Shelby County’s iZone schools have proven to be successful and returning the ASD charters to district operation there means sending those schools back to a district with a proven ability to get results.

White’s plan is simple: Change the name, keep playing the same “reform” game.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

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