Friday, February 03, 2012

What's Next for Achievement First in Providence

Elisabeth Harrison:

The final tally was five to four when the State Board of Regents voted last night on Achievement First. Board Chairman George Caruolo cast the tie-breaking vote.

The hilarious part in this is that the decision comes the same day Mayor Taveras was on the front page of the paper talking about the possibility of the city declaring bankruptcy. Nothing like draining a few more millions out of the city to fund a few mayoral academies. Meanwhile, he ostentatiously still has no plan for the school district he is also responsible for.

These schools were pretty much inevitable because of Race to the Top, but it would have been nice to make them submit another application to make the point that the deficiencies in this one aren't acceptable. As it is, a very low bar has been set for key issues like showing need or demand from participating cities, following the law regarding equal enrollment from participating cities, or generally explaining what the enrollment policy will be with any specificity.

The nice thing about technical legal arguments, as I've been trying to make, is that you can always file a lawsuit and you don't have to rely on politics to win. All you need is someone with standing to sue and a willing lawyer.

So I'm not going to do it personally, but hopefully between now and whenever AF's first lottery happens, someone will sue over AF's enrollment policies and we'll get some finality on the issue -- especially since the same thing is a huge factor in Meeting Street's new proposal as well.

There are two big reasons this is important:

  • Idealistically, because desegregation is important, and I don't believe in the strategy of drawing students from an economically diverse range of school districts to create an economically segregated school (which is where this is headed).
  • Providence needs to push as much of the cost for this onto the other districts. We're supposedly broke.

Also, I think RIDE should obey the law.

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