[UPDATED] Disaster Capitalism (almost) Comes to Little Rock

UPDATE: BREAKING: School privatization bill pulled for this session

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The next phase in education reform appears to be take over legislation and policy (in other words, disaster capitalism).

Next in the bull’s eye is Little Rock, Arkansas:

The problem is that take over strategies have been destructive, not helpful—as I have detailed:

Finally, Nelsen builds to the most troubling conservative option: closing, as Nelsen’s curious word choice identifies, “[p]oor schools” and adopting state take-over practices such as the Tennessee Achievement School District (ASD). Setting aside that Nelsen is associating state government take-over as conservative while opening with a nod toward “small government,” endorsing the ASD is deeply flawed. Nelsen claims inaccurately: “The results in Tennessee are impressive so far. Students have posted double-digit gains in math, science and literacy — outpacing improvements in other public schools”—when actually, like charter schools in general, the ASD has not performed much different than public schools, according to a 2014 analysis:

“My analysis suggests that ASD schools aren’t doing significantly better in terms of student growth than they were before state takeover. In fact, in many cases the schools’ pre-takeover growth outperformed the ASD. These findings have significant implications for the future of the ASD, how we should move forward with continued takeovers, and for future turn-around efforts in general.”

From Tennessee to New Orleans to Los Angeles, claims of successful take-over strategies have been discredited, but those take-overs have resulted mostly in disenfranchised children and communities while providing political capital for advocates.

For Further Reading

NPR Whitewashes Charter Schools and Disaster Capitalism in New Orleans

Endgame: Disaster Capitalism, New Orleans, and the Charter Scam

Disaster Capitalism and Charter Schools: Revisiting New Orleans Post-Katrina

Post-Katrina New Orleans: Disatser Capitalism Feeds on Poverty and Racism

Recommended: Educational Documentaries

Little Rock Central: 50 Years Later

These documentaries often soar because of the people allowed to speak for themselves. This excellent HBO film opens with Minnijean Brown Trickey returning to Little Rock Central High, and then it never fails to deliver throughout. I would rate this a must-see among the selections in this course. The film confronts Brown v. Board, separate and unequal, schools within schools, the return of segregation (especially in the South), and the lingering tensions between the ideal and reality of racial harmony. Related pieces on the rise of the segregated South and education reform in the New Jim Crow Era are recommended. Alexander’s The New Jim Crow is also an excellent connection.

Current Education Reform Perpetuating, Not Curbing, Inequity

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