The Incestuous School District (ISD) of NC – Follow the Money to See the Pay-to-Play

In 2016, then Rep. Rob Bryan and the House Committee on Education, pushed through a bill that would establish an ASD (Achievement School District) in North Carolina allowing the control of some of the state’s low-performing schools to be outsourced to out-of-state entities.

That ASD was renamed the Innovative School District (ISD) in 2017 in an attempt to “relabel” it under a more favorable light.

After a rather contentious selection process that saw communities galvanize to keep their “under-preforming” schools from being put into the ISD, one school was then selected and marked to be taken over by an outside entity – Southside Ashpole Elementary School in Robeson County.

This week, Dr. Eric Hall, the superintendent of the ISD, formally presented to the NC State Board of Education his recommendation for an operator for Southside Ashpole.

From Alex Granados of EdNC.org on April 4th,

Innovative School District (ISD) Superintendent Eric Hall received a less-than-enthusiastic response from some State Board of Education members today when he presented his recommendation for an inaugural ISD school operator. 

Under the Innovative School District, five schools will be selected to be taken over by operators which could include for-profit charter or education management organizations. The schools will no longer be run by their traditional school districts during the five years they are under ISD authority. 

Southside Ashpole will be the first school and is slated to operate under the ISD starting this coming fall. However, having an operator in place before is a crucial first step before that can happen. 

Hall’s recommendation, Charlotte-based Achievement for All Children(AAC) includes former Rep. Rob Bryan, R-Mecklenburg, on its leadership team. Bryan was the lawmaker who spearheaded the legislation that became the Innovative School District (https://www.ednc.org/2018/04/04/innovative-school-district-operator-selection-hits-possible-roadblock/ ). 

Rob Bryan is part of AAC. He joined them after he was defeated in a reelection bid later in 2016.

AAC is contracted to TeamCFA.

Who is TeamCFA?

Per Lynn Bonner and T. Keung Hui of the News & Observer last October:

A company tied to a wealthy Libertarian donor who helped pass a state law allowing takeover of low-performing North Carolina schools is trying to win approval to operate those schools.

Achievement For All Children was among the groups who applied for state approval to run struggling schools that will be chosen for the Innovative School District. Achievement For All Children is heavily connected to Oregon resident John Bryan, who is a generous contributor to political campaigns and school-choice causes in North Carolina.

The company was formed in February and registered by Tony Helton, the chief executive officer of TeamCFA, a charter network that Bryan founded. The board of directors for Achievement for All Children includes former Rep. Rob Bryan, a Republican from Mecklenburg County who introduced the bill creating the new district, and Darrell Allison, who heads the pro-school choice group Parents For Educational Freedom in North Carolina (http://amp.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article178169451.html) .

You might want to see whom all has received political contributions from John Bryan. All one has to do is look at FollowtheMoney.org (https://www.followthemoney.org/entity-details?eid=2181444) .

Below is just a screenshot, but it lists both Rob Bryan and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest as receiving funds for one election cycle. Be remembered that there is a limit that can be donated to a candidate, but that is per election; primaries and general elections are separate. Bryan can donate to each. And he has.

Bryan1

Among the other North Carolinians John Bryan has donated to include:

  • Pat McCrory
  • Chad Barefoot
  • Phil Berger
  • Tim Moore
  • Ralph Hise
  • Jason Saine
  • David Curtis
  • Jerry Tillman

That’s quite the list of privatizers.

Another article by the N&O (Bonner, Stancill, and Raynor) last October 9th chronicled even more of John Bryan’s “philanthropy.”

Bryan has contributed about $600,000 to legislative candidates in North Carolina, most of them Republican, and GOP political committees from 2011 to 2016. Included is a $100,000 contribution to a group supporting GOP candidates for the state Supreme Court. He contributed $50,000 to a political action committee called Truth & Prosperity, set up to support Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.

A vocal charter-school champion, Forest has a seat on the State Board of Education. Forest’s general counsel and policy adviser, Steve Walker, is vice chairman of the state Charter School Advisory Board (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article177836091.html).

Of course, Dan Forest downplays this. But do not forget that as a member of the state board of education, he has the power to help give the ISD resources and “OK” whomever might be slated to take over the school – Like TeamCFA.

Back to the other Bryan:

Rob Bryan created a bill in 2015-2016 and with the help of a loaded committee became willing to siphon money to charter schools run by out-of-state private entities for which he now works and may potentially profit from.

That is a pile of manure of the most putrid stench.

To further add to the incestuous nature of the proposal by Achievement for All Children, it includes on its board of directors Darrell Allison of PEFNC who is about to work for the high-profile American Federation of Children, founded by Betsy DeVos. He is the megaphone for “school choice” advocates in the state and a strong proponent of the Opportunity Grants.

If this becomes a reality, Allison will literally be taking money away from public education through multiple avenues: vouchers for private schools and money to finance an ISD district that will be paying his company to run a school that is probably unwilling to be taken over. And Allison, like Bryan has cloaked himself with ambiguity: Bryan hasn’t spoken to the press yet and when Allison speaks he seems to not be clear. Consider this post on the use of vouchers – https://caffeinatedrage.com/2017/07/31/a-third-person-open-letter-to-darrell-allison-and-the-pefnc-why-hide-behind-the-ambiguity/.

In that post, the work of Lindsay Wagner is referenced and shows how a great journalist can ask the very question that deserves an open answer. It also shows that a “non-answer” screams louder than one that is straightforwardly given.

Rob Bryan’s background in education was outlined on his website while he was in office , http://www.friendsofrob.com/about. It stated,

Raised by a teacher and an engineer, Rob spent his first two years after college participating in the Teach for America program. In a low-income school in inner-city Los Angeles, he saw firsthand the problems created by non-innovative, bureaucratic districts unwilling or unable to change. Red tape and politics prevented teachers, principals, and parents from choosing the creative solutions that would work for their students.

There is a lot of information there. Bryan’s tenure in the classroom, while admirable, was not long at all. Most teachers in NC went through more time training to become a teacher than he spent in the actual classroom. He worked in a poverty-stricken inner-city school, the same kind of schools he helped label as failing with a Jeb Bush style grading system that he helped create. Furthermore, while in office, he actually helped foster an environment that still keeps those poverty-stricken schools under the foot of government by lowering per pupil expenditures and vilifying veteran educators.

He said in that statement, “Red tape and politics prevented teachers, principals, and parents from choosing the creative solutions that would work for their students.” Bryan is exactly right. But if one sees the actions that Bryan as a legislator participated in while crafting the current educational landscape here in NC, one would label him as part of that “red tape and politics.”

Again, that is a pile of manure of the most putrid stench created with hypocrisy.

And it is manifested in this ISD – this Incestuous School District.

One thought on “The Incestuous School District (ISD) of NC – Follow the Money to See the Pay-to-Play

  1. Pingback: More Proof That the Incestuous School District (ISD) of NC is a Pay-to-Play Scheme | caffeinated rage

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