Both the House and Senate now have bills that include a “New Start School” amendment that could have a far-reaching impact on good schools in any district across the state.
The “New Start” provision stipulates that a school rated F has one year to move to at least a D rating, then the school must move to a C rating the following year, and it can never drop back to an F or D rating. If a school does not move from an F rating after year one (or to C after year two, or drops a level thereafter), MDE will have these options:
- Take over the school; or
- Abolish the school and assign students to the closest school rated C or better (this can be across district and county lines, and the receiving school/district must accept the students); or
- Select a charter organization or EMO (educational maintenance organization) to operate the school
The second option above sets up the possibility of the student population of an entire F or D school being transferred to an A, B, or C school, either in the same district or in a different district (and/or across county lines); the receiving school would be forced to accept whatever number of students is sent to them by MDE. This plan has serious flaws, not the least of which is that good schools could be inundated and overwhelmed with hundreds of students from schools that MDE decides to close – leading to last-minute hiring of teachers and scrambling to add classroom spaces (most likely, trailers) to house the new students. Many good schools already are over capacity and would not be able to absorb a sudden influx of students without diminishing significantly the quality of education they currently provide.
The “New Start” provision should be amended to:
- Strike the option of allowing MDE to send the students of a failing school to the closest school rated C or better without consent of the receiving school or district
- Require charter management organizations and EMOs to be non-profit (management functions may not be contracted out to a for-profit organization)
Please call your legislators and ask them to ensure that the “New Start” provision is amended as outlined above. Capitol Switchboard: 601.359.3770