Plan for charter takeover of worst public schools crafted in secret

Aug 9, 2015 by

KIPP Academy, a national charter chain with a school in Charlotte, has taken over some low-performing public schools in Tennessee. – KIPP Academy

N.C. Rep. Rob Bryan, a Mecklenburg Republican with a leadership role in education, has been working for weeks on a bill he hopes will eventually transform public schools.

It would start small, with a pilot Achievement District plan that would force five of North Carolina’s most persistently low-performing elementary schools to close or be taken over by charter operators. But Bryan hopes the trial will prove successful enough to inspire a bigger shift. He cites charter takeovers of district schools in New Orleans and Tennessee as models.

“I think the question is how long are kids allowed to be in failing schools,” he said Thursday.

This has actually been in the works for a long time. It just hasn’t been on the public radar.

State Rep. Rob Bryan, R-Mecklenburg

If you haven’t heard of this plan, it’s because the bill hasn’t been introduced or discussed in any public forum. There’s nothing about it in public records yet.

Instead, Bryan has been crafting his proposal behind closed doors, talking to lawmakers, educators and advocates of his choosing. In a process that has become common, he plans to substitute his bill for another one introduced in February, circumventing a spring deadline for introducing new legislation.

“This has actually been in the works for a long time. It just hasn’t been on the public radar,” Bryan said.

Chris Fitzsimon, executive director of the Raleigh-based N.C. Policy Watch, calls that process a travesty. He agrees with Bryan on only two points: The schools in question need help, and Bryan’s proposal could reshape public education.

“This is a fundamental change in the way public schools operate,” Fitzsimon said Friday. “To put this together behind the scenes, in secret, in the last few weeks of the legislative session is an outrage.”

Source: Plan for charter takeover of worst public schools crafted in secret | The Charlotte Observer

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