Friday, December 14, 2012

Memphis education reformers make a mint

The blogger who "keeps an eye on the corporate education agenda" observes the very lucrative business of privatizing public schools in Memphis, in spite of neighborhood opposition:

Less than a year into the New Orlean’s style rephorm-over, the Achievement School District’s numbers are off the charts. By numbers, I’m referring NOT to student test scores at the 6 ASD schools —they ranked in the 16th percentile in reading and math —but the eye popping salaries that district personnel are pulling down. Tennessee may be called the volunteer state, but in Achievement land, the “sweet salary state” might be a more accurate nickname. District head and TFA alum Christopher Barbic takes home nearly $18K —a month. A little perspective: that’s more than the governor of the state makes, and, believe or not, a hair more than Kevin Huffman, TFAster turned former Mr. Michelle Rhee turned chief rephormer for the state of Tennessee ....

Within the next few years, the Achievement School District will swallow up schools all over Memphis, eventually covering more than 20,000 students. And there in lies the dry spice rub. You see not everyone is cheering the rephorm train as it speeds down the tracks. The neighborhoods whose schools are being targeted for takeovers have responded with protests—even anti-ASD billboards. Tomorrow, parents and other supporters of the Treadwell School, a one-of-a-kind dual language school located in the heart of Memphis’ Hispanic neighborhood, will submit a petition signed by 1,000 people, all saying “¡keep your manos off our escuela!

There is too much private money and powerful influence in the education reform industry for it to be anything other than a get-rich-quick racket funded and legitimized by elected officials, themselves beholden to wealthy campaign donors. Talk about a vicious circle. It will take massive community organizing to turn back this wave of young hipsters--many with Teach for America backgrounds--coming into a struggling education market with designs on huge salaries at the expense of old-guard, experienced educators. I am not sure enough people are angry at how corporations are daily looting the state budget to muster the mass organization required to turn off the money spigots before the young and the restless reformers parachute out to other endeavors.


  1. Thank you for pointing out the role that corporations play - and have basically been playing for many years - in education. From the beginning of NCLB, when the 'test-makers' owned the companies and were friends of the Administration to the ASD take-overs of today. I am incensed when I think of what has happened to education today and am sadly thankful that I am now retired. The joy has truly been taken from the profession of teaching.

  2. Another blog covering privatization in Memphis and the ASD...

  3. It is interesting that local desires are weighted so heavily in this discussion. Here, in Nashville, the desire of locals to get charter schools in West Nashville was dismissed.

    I like consistency; I'd be keen to find if, individually, the opponents of charter schools are consistent in these thoughts.