Kevin Huffman, former state education leader in Tennessee, came to Pennslvania to sell the glories of corporate reform as practiced in Tennessee. Peter Greene recounts his claims here.
Huffman wanted particularly to sell the virtues of the Tennessee Achievement School District, which gathers the state’s lowest performing schools into a group, eliminates local control, and converts them to privately managed charters.
As Greene shows, the ASD in Tennessee has been a bust so far.
“So first, strip local school boards and voters of authority over their own schools. Second, allow a mixture of innovation and stripping teachers of job security and pay. The stated plan in Tennessee was that the bottom 5% of schools would move into the top 25% within five years. Doesn’t that all sound great? But hey– how is it working out in Tennessee?
“That depends (surprise) on who is crunching which numbers, but even the state’s own numbers gave the Tennessee ASD the lowest possible score for growth.
“In fact, Huffman forgot to mention the newest “technique” proposed to make ASD schools successful– allow them to recruit students from outside the school’s geographical home base. This is the only turnaround model that really has been successful across the nation– in order to turn a school around, you need to fill it with different students.”
Greene read Huffman’s op-Ed with advice to Pennsylvania
“When I spoke with Pennsylvania state senators last week about school turnaround work, one senator asked me directly, “When you created the Achievement School District, were you worried that it was too risky?” I responded, “The greatest risk would be to do nothing.”
“Pretending that any senator actually answered that question, the answer is still dumb. Your child is lying on the sidewalk, bleeding and broken after being struck by a car. A guy in a t-shirt runs up with an axe and makes like he’s about to try to lop off your child’s legs. “What the hell are you doing?” you holler, and t-shirt guy replies, “Well, the greatest risk would be to do nothing.”
“Doing Nothing is rarely as great a risk as Doing Something Stupid.
“Achievement School Districts are dumb ideas that offer no educational benefits and run contrary to the foundational principles of democracy in this country. They are literally taxation without representation. Huffman should move on along to his next gig and leave Pennsylvania alone.”