Black Caucus seeks ASD moratorium

The Legislature’s Black Caucus is pushing for a moratorium on expansion of the Tennessee’s Achievement School District with Chairwoman Brenda Gilmore citing a lack of progress in the schools it now oversees, reports The Tennessean.

“The Tennessee Black Caucus stands in unity today, with the Democratic Caucus, asking that the ASD delay any further expansions until better results can be shown and substantiated,” Gilmore said. “The ASD should go back to its original goal and refocus on intense intervention at a small number of schools.”

Democratic Caucus leaders Monday also expressed support for a moratorium, although the caucus hasn’t taken a formal stance.

The ASD is the state district authorized to take over the bottom 5 percent of low-performing schools and has recently seen backlash in Memphis after it announced a takeover Dec. 11 of four more schools in the area. The ASD oversees 29 schools, with 27 in Memphis and two in Nashville — Neelys Bend and Brick Church middle schools.

The community backlash caused Shelby County Schools to pass a resolution that includes a moratorium on the ASD’s takeover of any more schools “until they show consistent progress in improving student academic achievement,” according to The Commercial Appeal.

Also fueling the controversy is a recent Vanderbilt University report saying district-run turnaround efforts of low-performing schools have yielded better results than that of Tennessee’s Achievement School District. The report also highlighted that reform efforts such as the ASD take time.