State Takeovers Are Usually a Bad Idea
State takeovers are not a new phenomenon in the U.S. In these situations, the state department will seize control over a school that is in the red in terms of performance. Usually, takeovers will happen where students are facing an emergency situation or the school is threatened by financial or environmental matters.
State takeovers are not a one-size-fits-all, and each jurisdiction has unique laws to govern the process. In some cases, the takeover can be a good thing. Most times, however, the action is rarely in order, like what happened to Mississippi’s Jackson Public Schools.
What is the process of a state takeover?
A state takeover rarely happens overnight because a school district usually undergoes a period characterized by poor performance. Usually, the administrators have an idea that an appropriation is on the horizon and can work on mitigation measures.
The overseers often have an idea of what ails their school, whether financial or otherwise, but lack the capacity or expertise to rectify the problem. To counter this deficiency, the state will set up a team to assist the school in getting back on its feet. However, the teams frequently miss the necessary capability to turn things around. On takeover could result in a chain reaction across a school district as the incompetent public service teams attempt to resuscitate the ailing schools.
Takeovers are rarely done in good faith, and their promoters do so as a way to gain political mileage. In the beginning, there is a lot of positive conversation as supporters make confident promises to turn things around. After the declarations, sweeping changes to the administrative structure of the school follow. At the start, you’ll be forgiven for expecting stellar results, given the pomp experienced just before the administration is changed.
As time goes by, you’ll realize that most of the changes were cosmetic. As time goes by, very little happens since the school’s administration is unable to effect change. As such, there are no positive academic results, and a lack of progress is the best possible outcome.
There is a characteristic nature of state takeovers whereby schools with a majority of black students are constantly targeted. The changes transform the schools into profiteering institutions, and even these fail to register a meaningful change. Eventually, students from these communities have to experience the failure of public institutions two-fold: one from the earlier collapse of their school and the subsequent takeover and unsuccessful revamp by the state. In the end, students from minority groups are condemned to suffer from a lack of meaningful education.
No matter your point of view, state takeovers are rarely beneficial. At best, the move is only good for the cameras and PR firms. No one considers the underlying issues in the school district and instead offers stop-gap measures to keep things running. Sometimes, there are malicious issues brought up so as to effect change but end up disenfranchising an entire community. Ideally, only unavoidable situations should necessitate a state takeover. Moreover, interested parties must bear the capacity to revamp the institution and ensure future success.