Takeover risk looms for Atlanta schools struggling to improve
- If Georgia voters approve the new Opportunity School District plan in November, Gov. Nathan Deal's proposal will call for the takeover of poorly performing schools — closing them, restructuring them, or converting them to charters.
- School performance will be determined on April 14, when preliminary results from the College and Career Ready Performance Index ratings are released, and schools that ranked "F" for three straight years are eligible for state takeover under Deal's proposal.
- Preliminary data from the new ratings has already been released, but the Atlanta school district, where some two dozen schools could face takeover, has not released the information to the media.
State takeovers aren't always a cure-all for ailing school systems. They've actually seen very mixed results. In Michigan, the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) takeover district, as well as Detroit Public Schools (DPS), have been the target of FBI corruption probes examining school and district administrators. District leaders in the EAA and DPS reportedly rolled out untested curriculum materials and spent millions on consultants.
School leaders have faced allegations of corruption in Detroit and elsewhere since, including former DPS schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who pled guilty to corruption charges in Chicago and is facing scrutiny for her time in Detroit.
New Jersey's takeover of Newark has been criticized for failing to achieve promised school turnarounds. A proposal backed by Republicans in Illinois to enable state control over Chicago Public Schools is also currently being considered.
Massachusetts, however, has taken an innovative approach to takeovers. Since 2008, poorly performing schools in that state have received support from districts to help them turn around, and the state considers a district only as good as its worst school. The collaborative approach is steeped in continual support and cooperation, and making the school in question a part of a "broader district ecosystem." That concept also brings more experienced school leaders together with those newer to their positions to share experiences.
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Some at-risk Atlanta schools could avoid state takeover