Investing in What Works: Community-Driven Strategies for Strong Public Schools

2015 – The Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, and the Southern Education Foundation (SEF), two advocates for equity in education, jointly released “Investing in What Works: Community-driven Strategies for Strong Public Schools.” This report is the most recent in a series of analyses of state takeover initiatives and other education governance reforms. In November 2016, Georgians will be asked to approve a state takeover modeled on the laws reviewed in this report. Finding little evidence of success, the authors provide an alternative vision for sustained school improvement inclusive of eight research-proven strategies.

The report urges voters to take into account lessons learned from past takeovers in Louisiana (Recovery School District), Tennessee (Achievement School District), and Michigan (Education Achievement Authority), which have not proven effective. These initiatives have relied on converting schools to charters or closing them altogether. The results have been highly stratified institutions and deepened segregation, widened gaps in achievement, and further disadvantaging schools that already struggle to keep pace with their counterparts.

The report goes on to suggest that Georgia’s takeover proposal, the Opportunity School District (OSD), is a high stakes proposition for the state. The OSD would disproportionately impact low-income communities with many schools targeted for takeover being concentrated in Atlanta (22 schools), Richmond (19 schools) and DeKalb County (28 schools). Additionally, the student population across all OSD-eligible schools is composed of 93.5% African American and Latinx students.

Recommended Strategies:

  1. Access to high-quality early childhood and pre-K education;
  2. Collaborative and stable school leadership;
  3. Quality teaching;
  4. Restorative practices and a student-centered learning environment;
  5. A strong curriculum that is rigorous, rich, and culturally relevant;
  6. Wraparound supports for students and their families;
  7. Deep parent-community-school ties; and
  8. Investment, not divestment.

Download The Report