The Washington Post reports “Republican lawmakers in Illinois last month pitched a bold plan for the state to seize control of the Chicago public schools, becoming one of a growing number of states that are moving to sideline local officials — even dissolve locally elected school boards — and take over struggling urban schools.
Governors in Michigan, Arkansas, Nevada, Wisconsin, Georgia, Ohio and elsewhere — mostly Republican leaders who otherwise champion local control in their fights with the federal government — say they are intervening in cases of chronic academic or financial failure. They say they have a moral obligation to act when it is clear that local efforts haven’t led to improvement.
“I want to protect the schoolchildren and their parents; that’s my first duty,” Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) said about his plan, which would wrest control of the nation’s third-largest school district from elected city leaders and was immediately opposed “100 percent” by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D).
Eleven states have passed or debated legislation to create state-run school districts in the past year, according to the Education Commission of the States, which tracks state education policy.
“There certainly is an effort afoot in the country to dismantle local government and reduce or eliminate the role of local school boards,” said Thomas Gentzel, executive director of the National School Boards Association.
Participants’ notes released by the state show the members pledging secrecy out of concern for anticipated public resistance. After nearly a year of discussions, the Kasich administration unveiled plans for a turbocharged state takeover that includes the dissolution of the locally elected school board and appointment of a chief executive officer with broad powers over local schools. A special commission controlled by Kasich appointees is expected to name a chief executive next month.”
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