Four more Shelby schools going to ASD

Four Shelby County schools will be converted into charter schools under the state-run Achievement School District next year, reports the Commercial Appeal. They are Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary, Kirby and Raleigh-Egypt middle schools and Hillcrest High.

Sheffield Elementary will stay with Shelby County Schools after the Aspire Public Schools charter network failed the application process.

Caldwell-Guthrie and Raleigh-Egypt will enter the Scholar Academies charter network. Hillcrest and Kirby will become part of Green Dot Public Schools. Neither Green Dot nor Scholar is based in Memphis, but both have schools operating under the ASD here.

The ASD announced the conversions Friday after a four-month process to determine which schools on the state’s priority list of the bottom 5 percent of schools would be taken over.

“They now have the opportunity to get the support that they need to be able to fulfill the potential that the students have,” incoming ASD Superintendent Malika Anderson said. Anderson, currently the district’s No. 2 official, takes over from Chris Barbic Jan. 4.

The news came days after a Vanderbilt study concluded the SCS turnaround plan in the Innovation Zone has seen more early successes than the ASD.

“Researchers indicated this work takes time, and we look forward to continuing to both research and reflect on the findings that our partners have around the impact that we are making,” she said.

The four additional schools mean the ASD will oversee 33 schools next year, with 31 in Memphis. When the state created the first priority school list in 2012, Memphis had 69 schools on the list. With four more entering the ASD, that leaves 11 schools that are still on the list but not in the ASD or in the SCS Innovation Zone.

…ASD leaders have said they hoped increased parent involvement this year would quell some of the controversies of years past. But the process has not been without contention. News conferences and rallies have been held in front of schools in both the ASD and SCS, including one called by SCS board member Stephanie Love and state Rep. Antonio Parkinson opposing the ASD less than 24 hours before Friday’s announcement.

During his speech to media, Parkinson pledged to seek a reallocation of turnaround resources, referred to the ASD an “experiment” and compared it to the Tuskegee Experiment, a 40-year medical experiment where black participants with syphilis were left untreated.

On Friday, Anderson called Parkinson’s comments “very unfortunate … given the gravity and the horrendous nature of the Tuskegee Experiment that was inflicted on black youth not too long ago.”

The ASD “is far from experimental,” she said. “This is a promise made and a promise kept.”

In a statement Friday, Parkinson said the Raleigh-Egypt move may not be a “done deal” and is exploring options to prevent it from shifting to ASD control.