Are School Takeovers Racist Power Plays?

The Kentucky State Board of Education is considering a state takeover of Jefferson County Public Schools.

Last month I wrote about state takeovers of school districts. I think they centralize power at the state level thereby diminishing local control in education. I also don’t think they work.

Dr. Domingo Morel, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University, ascribed a rather nefarious purpose behind them.

At The Conversation he wrote:

Why does there appear to be a sudden interest in state takeovers of local school districts in the South? Have Southern governors figured out the blueprint for improving education in urban communities, predominantly occupied by people of color? Hardly. I would argue that these governors have discovered a blueprint for the economic and political disempowerment of their urban centers.

Much like the state takeovers in northern cities in the 1990s and early 2000s, these state interventions are being led by Republican governors and majority-Republican state legislatures.

The school districts that are targeted for takeovers are in majority-Democratic cities with mostly black student populations and black political leadership. Once the states assume leadership of the school districts, the locally elected school board ÔÇô which has historically served as the foundation for local political empowerment ÔÇô is stripped of its power. Decision-making and control of the school budget is removed from the local community.

So in the Northern states, while ineffective, school takeovers done by Democratic and Republican governors alike were not racist. Now, in the South, schools are taken over because of racist political power grab?

Really? Or, could it be, that these are just the school districts that have a pattern of poor performance?

Dr. Morel must be able to read minds to ascertain the real motivation to take over schools.

Dr. Morel could have built a stronger consensus that school takeovers are, for the most part, ineffective and are an anathema to local control. Instead, he scored cheap political points. He certainly riled up the Democrat cheering section, but this does not provide an answer to the problem of failing schools.

One thought on “Are School Takeovers Racist Power Plays?

  1. Interesting that Dr. Morel mentions Kentucky but I don’t think he mentioned this:

    Also, Jefferson County Public Schools in Kentucky has major white minus black achievement gaps and also seems to do far more social promoting of blacks to diplomas: Under these conditions, wouldn’t the state staying out of the district be even more racist? Keep in mind that Kentucky has been operating a VERY intensive education reform since 1990, including a considerable increase in real spending. After 28 years, shouldn’t this effort pay off better for minority students?

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