Gov. Asa Hutchinson made clear at a news conference today what we’d taken to be true all along:
He supports Rep. Bruce Cozart’s bill to allow the state to turn over operation of schools or whole school districts judged in academic distress to private charter school operators.
He said the bill would give the Department of Education “tools” to use that they don’t currently have, if they chose to use them.
Indeed. They could junk the fair dismissal act. Bust a teacher’s union. Expropriate local tax revenues and buildings for the benefit of a private operator, which, though nominally a nonprofit, could contract with related profit-making companies.
There’s a whale of a lobbying fight underway on this bill, because the 48 schools of the former Little Rock School District and its hundreds of millions in revenue could be put in private hands by the Education commissioner, soon to be charter school advocate Johnny Key, as soon as legislation passes that eliminates education and experience qualifications that prevent him currently from holding the job. This bill is being pushed by lobbyists paid by the Walton Family Foundation. They’ve been attacking the Little Rock School District for years and are paying for a consultant currently studying the school district that has concluded privatization was in order in other cities such as Philadelphia and Memphis.