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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.