In addition, elected officials in both cities—including state legislators, city council representatives, and school board members—are expressing their discontent with the ASD. To read an excellent op-ed by Amy Frogge and Jill Speering of the Metro Nashville school board, visit this link:
The ASD has been rife with problems and controversies, including:
- poor student test outcomes (http://www.bluffcityed.com/2014/08/just-the-facts-a-longitudinal-analysis-of-asd-schools-before-and-after-takeover/)
- apparent disregard for local-control and community input (http://tnedreport.com/?cat=211&paged=2),
- employment of poorly-trained Teach for America (TFA) corps members as “teachers”.
- use of charter schools that impose extreme discipline on children. (http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/local-news/charter-schools-face-backlash-in-inner-cities-to)
- Happy Hour parties, funded by our tax dollars, to recruit TFA teachers to the ASD. (http://memphis.eventful.com/events/asdtfa-happy-hour-/E0-001-061481853-1)
But just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be any more bad news for the ASD, the press recently announced that Tennessee’s Race to the Top grant money is about to run out. That’s a problem for the ASD because part of that grant money goes to fund their administrative costs. So what does Chris Barbic, the almighty leader of the ASD, decide to do? Instead of admitting that the ASD has been a failed experiment that has made life miserable for countless Tennesseans, he decides to push forward by—hold on to your hats—making up for the loss of administrative funding by taking money from per pupil funding. (http://nashvillepublicradio.org/blog/2014/12/22/race-top-money-dries-tennessees-achievement-school-district-forced-find-new-funding/).
As mentioned above, the ASD's overall test scores are not good. Not good at all. Yet now they plan on trying to run their organization with even less money. Using basic logic, we can assume that their scores are going to drop even further. So why do they keep trying to expand in Nashville and Memphis, especially when parents, community members, and elected officials are in a full revolt against the addition of ASD schools in both of these cities? The ASD believes that the corporate model works for education, but how many corporations continue expanding when:
1) they are losing money,
2) their return on investment is abysmal, and
3) the community doesn't want them around?
I guess we really shouldn’t expect anything less from a man who recently claimed that he could convert all 85 priority schools to the ASD if he gave the word. (http://tnedreport.com/?cat=211&paged=2)
Oh, and from a man who founded the YES Prep charter chain that, not so coincidentally, will be opening its first TN ASD charter school in 2015.
Which makes one wonder — is Chris Barbic still leading the ASD because he really believes it is making a positive difference in Tennessee? Or is he so personally invested in this scheme that he is unwilling to acknowledge reality? Regardless of his reasoning, it’s time for all of us who see through this scam to contact our legislators and let them know that it’s time to put an end to this madness.
Go to this link (http://www.capitol.tn.gov/legislators/), get the contact information for your state representatives, and then email/call them. And feel free to use the following text in your message:
Dear Senator _________ and Representative __________,
I urge you to please put a stop to the Achievement School District, which takes over the “bottom 5%” of TN schools, during the 2015 legislative session.
1) Has poor test scores.
2) Shows disregard for the wishes of community members and locally elected politicians.
3) Employs poorly trained Teach for America corps members who generally do not stay in the teaching profession for longer than 1-2 years.
4) Uses charter schools that often employ extreme disciplinary tactics.
5) Holds “Happy Hour” events with taxpayer money.
6) Plans to use a charter chain that was founded by the current ASD leader, Chris Barbic.
7) Has lost its funding from Race to the Top and will now be using per pupil funding, which should be going to teach its students, to support its administrative costs.
The ASD experiment has gone on long enough and it must stop. And if our district has not yet been tapped by the ASD, it’s just a matter of time before it will be--because there will always be schools in the bottom 5%.