Report: School takeovers deprive African-American and Latino communities of rights

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According to a new report from The Alliance to Reclaim our Schools, school takeovers and privatization are leading to the disenfranchisement of large numbers of students and their families, mostly in African-American and Latino communities.

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School takeovers, sometimes marketed as the “New Orleans Model,” strip districts of local control, placing them under the jurisdiction of politically appointed and unaccountable school boards that community members don’t even have the right to vote for. In many cases, these takeovers are simply a way to put a school district into private hands by removing voters from the equation and shuffling low-income students into charter schools that have been proven to, at best, perform no better than public schools.

According to the report:

Despite the failure to produce the promised renaissance in New Orleans, the “New Orleans Model” of state takeover and charter conversion has been marketed nationally as a new direction for troubled school districts. At the urging of the charter industry and its supporters, state legislatures across the country are now enacting or considering state-run school districts modeled after Louisiana’s RSD. These laws allow state governors or state education departments to selectively remove individual “failing” schools from their home district, and put them under state governance in what are euphemistically called “achievement districts” or “opportunity districts.” In most cases, the seized schools are immediately, or soon converted to charters.

charter takeoversIn many cases, voters in the takeover districts have previously rejected the idea of privatization of their local schools, so mayors or state leaders take the decision out of the voters’ hands by taking over the district and then unilaterally imposing privatization schemes. Even more unsettling, of the 47,596 students enrolled in state-run districts in 2014-2015, 97% were African American or Latino.

One example of a school takeover district gone bad is Newark, New Jersey’s One Newark. According to Roberto Cabanas, the lead organizer for New Jersey Communities United:

Under state control, Newarkers are experiencing the worst of so-called ‘education reform.’ One Newark has intentionally shifted students from their neighborhood schools into charters, while also creating under-enrolled public school facilities, making them ripe for closure and charter expansion. It has placed special needs students and bilingual education students in classrooms that are not equipped to deal with their needs and the needs of their families. Essentially, state-control of Newark Public Schools has stripped the community of our voice and our self-determination. Newarkers have been told that we do not know what’s best for our own children. This type of colonialism is not ‘reform’ — it’s anti-democratic. And the people of Newark are keenly aware of this.

You can read the complete report at ReclaimOurSchools.org, or click here to sign the petition calling on legislators to adopt stronger standards for charter schools.

Reader Comments

  1. The idea is to “prove” that public education and its teachers are failures. The people running the charters are businessmen making fortunes, the children are being trained to be their workers, and the teachers have had their educations wasted, their rights trampled upon, and their dignity destroyed.

    1. Public schools HAVE been for the most part failures….(I said most, not all) That is what happens when there is no competition and there is a monopoly) And the comment about kids being trained to be their workers? That is the very definition of public schools….Public schools provide a cookie cutter approach to education and train students to be good compliant people who never question the state…And parents are completely taken out of the picture..(except to volunteer.And to support the school wholly and not ask questions.) And what rights of teachers have been trampled on? The fact that this will make them have to work harder to keep up with what may be a better way….Seriously, name what rights of theirs that are being trampled on and give examples of their “dignity being destroyed……..

  2. Charter schools are a bad idea. They have been shown to under perform. They under perform because they have no standards to be held accountable for. If we continue to have these schools the least we can do is make them hold up to state standards.

    1. So if there are vouchers and morecharter schools are formed,and the state oversees them and holds them to certain standards, then they would be ok? And the NEA would be ok with it too?

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