School takeovers erode democracy, target minority communities | Arkansas Blog

School takeovers erode democracy, target minority communities

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Diane Ravitch writes about
public school takeovers around the country, reminiscent of the takeover of the Little Rock School District on specious grounds.

A takeover nullifies parent and community voice. A disproportionate number of takeovers have been inflicted on African-American communities. As we know from the failure of the Achievement School District, these takeovers have a bad track record. What do they accomplish? They nullify parent and community voice.
Why, yes. And that's the point. The Waltons hate school boards and voter control of schools. The authoritarian model, invariably managed by companies controlled mostly by wealthy white directors, is much preferred. The model also comes with vastly reduced accountability on spending of public money.

Ravitch was inspired by this article, which came with video clip above.

In at least 20 states, lawmakers have stripped locally elected school board members of their power in impoverished, mostly minority communities, leaving parents without a voice — or a vote — in their children’s education, according to a News21 state-by-state analysis of school takeovers.

More than 5.6 million people live in places where state officials took over entire districts or individual schools in the past six years, according to News21 data collected from state government agencies. About 43 percent are African-American and around 20 percent are Hispanic. On average 29.2 percent of people in those areas are living below the poverty level. The U.S. average is 15.5 percent.
Of course Little Rock is included. It includes what I'd call an unfortunate quote from takeover supporter and former School Board member John Riggs, about the state of democracy in Little Rock.

The biggest problem, to him, was governance: namely, the school board, whose meetings he said resembled a “zoo.” “I thought (the takeover) was the best thing. That was one of the boldest and best moves we’ve had in education in Little Rock in a long, long time” Riggs said.
The "zoo" assessment of the school board from business establishment figures like Riggs reached critical mass after the School Board became majority black. The district is majority black and poor and represents a portion of the city that is majority-minority because it doesn't include much of the heavily white western reaches of the city.


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