Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Jefferson is Rolling Over in His Grave

There are a number of measures before the General Assembly this session to allow state takeover of underperforming schools.  In earlier posts, you have seen reference to HB 2096 and SB 1324.  VEA has joined other opponents of these bills is saying that they violate Article VIII, Section 7 of the Constitution of Virginia:

The supervision of schools in each school division shall be vested in a school board, to be composed of members selected in the manner, for the term, possessing the qualifications, and to the number provided by law.

What is most interesting is that the same individuals who tell us that the takeover bills are constitutional, have a constitutional amendment allowing for state takeover of public schools before the General Assembly.  Trust me when I say that this is an effort to bring in for-profit charter school corporations to run our schools.  That is precisely what has happened in Louisiana and other states which have taken this approach.

The most recent charter school research reveals that, “Up to this point, the majority of high-quality research studies on charter effects in the U.S. have tended to show no meaningful impact—positive or negative—on student achievement.”   - National Education Policy Center

Virginia’s schools continue to perform at a very high level, 4th in the nation in the recent Quality Counts report.

Despite all this, the current administration is hell-bent on taking over Virginia’s public schools and turning them into charter schools, as was done in post-Katrina Louisiana.  The current efforts want to duplicate Louisiana’s Recovery Schools District (RSD), calling Virginia’s equivalent the Opportunity Educational Institution (OEI).

What is the track record of the RSD?  This entity was created in 2003 for the purpose of turning around underperforming schools.  There are currently 60 schools in the RSD.  They give letter grades to schools in Louisiana.  The turnaround effort was a total failure in seven of the schools, so they are putting them under new governance.  Twenty-nine of the schools are still failing.  Sixteen of them were graded D, four C, four B and none received an A.  Not so hot!

So now we are going to not only adopt this plan in Virginia, HJ 693 would have us put this plan in the Constitution of Virginia.  Jefferson, a strong believer in public education, is turning over in his grave.  This Constitutional Amendment will be before the full Senate tomorrow.