Lindsay Wagner of the NC Policy Watch reports that an Oregon multi-millionaire is behind a secret plan to create an all-charter “achievement school district” for low-performing schools in North Carolina.
“Rep. Rob Bryan (R-Mecklenburg) may be the face of a plan to allow charter school operators to take over North Carolina’s worst performing schools, but he’s not the only Bryan with fingerprints on the proposal.
“Enter John D. Bryan, an Oregon-based retired business executive—and multimillionaire—who has long standing ties to the school privatization movement developing in the Tar Heel state and is a backer of conservative causes and political campaigns across the country.
“John Bryan has underwritten the creation of ten charter schools across North Carolina, and now thanks to his political efforts, he’s also behind a secret plan modeled after similar controversial initiatives in Tennessee, New Orleans and elsewhere to allow charter operators to fire an entire school’s staff and start from scratch in an attempt to catapult a public school into the top 25 percent of the state.
“The proposal to create an ‘achievement school district’ that wrests control of low-performing schools away from local school boards and into the hands of charter operators is being developed behind closed doors as the legislative session marches on, with numerous lawmakers and advocates working in tandem on successive drafts of the legislation.
And the final proposal, if it ever makes it to the House and Senate floors, will be the fruit of lobbying efforts commissioned by millionaire John Bryan….
“John Bryan, who is reportedly a retired chemical company executive, is founder of an organization called TeamCFA, an offshoot of his family’s foundation that is devoted to developing a network of charter schools around the country — most of which exist in North Carolina….
“Rep. Rob Bryan, who is the lead lawmaker pushing the bill that would create an ‘Achievement School District,’ has received $10,000 in campaign contributions since 2013 from John Bryan.
“According to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, since 2010 John Bryan has given well over $100,000 to candidates who have a record of pushing school privatization efforts, including House Speaker Tim Moore, Rep. Jason Saine, former Guilford Rep. Marcus Brandon, Rep. Paul Stam, and Sen. Ralph Hise. And that list is likely not comprehensive, either, since many lawmakers don’t submit digitized campaign finance records, making it more difficult to search online for contributions.”
The sad irony is that the “achievement school district” in Tennessee, the model for this proposal, has been a dismal failure. it promised to move the state’s lowest performing schools to the top 20% in the state. Of the original six schools that were taken over because they were among the state’s bottom 5%, all are in the bottom 6% or lower. None has met the goal of dramatic–or even modest–test score gains.