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.
Then in 2018, Rob Bryan lost his reelection bid. But his affiliation with the ISD baceme even more entrenched.
In April of 2018, Dr. Eric Hall, then 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 4, 2018,
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.
Rob Bryan was a part of AAC.
AAC was contracted to TeamCFA. Who is TeamCFA?
Per Lynn Bonner and T. Keung Hui of the News & Observer in October of 2017:
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.
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 worked and has profited from.
By the way, the ISD has been an unquestionable failure.
But Rob Bryan is back and replacing the very man who brought us the bathroom bill, HB2.
His background in education was once outlined on his website while he was first 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 (sounds like a state superintendent we know). 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 previously, 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 had 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.”
In fact, he now will become more of that red tape.