Rumors of a New Orleans-style Recovery School District (RSD), aimed at Milwaukee Public Schools, are swirling around the Wisconsin political arena once again. The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce has been lobbying for this for some time. In 2013 the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute proposed the same idea in a report titled “Pathway to success for Milwaukee schools.” (See at http://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/-pathway-to-success_170815996739.pdf).
Right now there are RSD’s in New Orleans, Tennessee, Michigan and Virginia. In New Orleans it is called the Recovery School District. In Tennessee it is called the Achievement School District. In Michigan it is called the Education Achievement Authority. In Virginia it is called the Opportunity Educational Institution.
From the practice of these 4 states, the following outcomes have become evident:
• “Low performing” schools are removed from their school districts.
• Administration and teachers are removed from those schools. (In New Orleans 7500 teachers were fired. A large majority were African American.)
• Schools are turned over to charter management organizations (CMO’s).
• Schools operate independently, answering to the state with little accountability.
• Parents are disenfranchised without elected school boards for recourse. Large percentages of families leave these schools.
• Special education and “behavior problem/low testing” students are “counseled out.”
• Teach For America becomes a major source for teaching staff. Unions are not allowed.
• School districts continue to be responsible for past debt accumulated.
• Academic performance is stagnant.