Lawmakers Weigh Bill To Create Tennessee-Like Charter School District

Jan 29, 2016

Credit David Schott / Flickr Creative Commons

Lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow charter school organizations and charter management companies to take over the state's lowest performing schools.

The proposal, sponsored by Rep. Rob Bryan (R-Mecklenburg), would create an "achievement school district" (ASD) made up of five of the state's lowest performing schools. The district would have its own superintendent, who would bring in charter school boards or charter management organizations to run and re-staff the schools, with the goal of turning them around.

Leanne Winner of the  North Carolina School Boards Association says the mixed results of similar charter-run districts in Tennessee and New Orleans give her pause.
"I think before North Carolina goes down an unproven road, we need to take a little bit closer look to make sure that we put the things in place to it successful," Winner said.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University determined Tennessee's ASD had spotty and overall marginal results on test scores two years in. And claims that New Orleans' charter-run district has improved student performance came under fire of critics who say the schools cherry-pick their students and don't serve the same population they did pre-Katrina.

Winner adds that the N.C. Department of Public Instruction is already providing teacher training and support to the state's low-performing schools. She argues that in most cases, training and more funding for schools will improve student outcomes—not different teachers.

"They clearly may not have the resources to do their best," Winner said.

Lawmakers plan to discuss the bill again in February and March.