Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Does 'First to the Top Act' Set Up Mayor's School Takeover?

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2010 at 10:36 AM

click to enlarge oie_karldean.jpg
A little-noticed sentence in the brand-new "First to the Top Act" might wind up putting Mayor Karl Dean in control of failing schools in Nashville. That's according to the excellent education blogger Nashville Jefferson who has studied the statute and offers his analysis here. One section gives the state commissioner of education the power to take over failing schools and operate them himself or hand them off to someone else to run. Here's the sentence that Nashville Jeff thinks authorizes mayoral control:
(b) The commissioner shall have the authority to contract with one or more individuals, governmental entities or nonprofit entities to manage the day to day operations of any or all schools or LEAs placed in the achievement school district, including, but not limited to providing direct services to students.
Dean certainly seems to qualify here as someone who could contract with the commissioner. He's definitely an individual and he works for a governmental entity. Nashville Jeff sees some deal-making in the mayor's immediate future:
Recall that our own Mayor, Karl Dean, was reportedly keenly interested in taking over MNPS (with the support of Governor Bredesen) if it failed to meet AYP this year (also remember that MNPS isn't out of the woods yet). Mayor Dean might fall under the "governmental entit[y]" provision, or he might not. If he doesn't, then the "individual[]" certainly will give the Commissioner that option. I wouldn't be surprised if we see some deal-making this summer and Dean takes control of a school or two in Nashville in the next year or two. But that's just a guess -- we'll see.

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