Gates, Dell foundations could take over troubled Texas schools

The Texas Legislature just passed a bill that would allow nonprofits to take control of low-performing schools. The result could be an influx of edtech.

In a move towards privatizing public schools, the Texas legislature has passed a law that allows nonprofits to take over low-performing schools, reports eSchool News.

Although the Texas Education Agency has not yet determined which nonprofits might be eligible to take control of low-performing Texas schools, one spokeswoman said that foundations with a history of using technology as a tool for school reform - including the Dell and Gates foundations, could be in the running.

"The nonprofit [takeover] is about the last thing that happens. Way before that, there are intervention programs and tools that are given to the schools that are heading in that direction." said state Sen. Florence Shapiro, a Republican from Plano, Texas, who designed the provision.

There are 11 Texas school awaiting the release of the state's annual rankings in August. Low-performing schools in the state are given four years to improve before they are either permanently closed or taken over by a "qualified" nonprofit organization. The Dell, Gates and Milken Family Foundations have a history of funding programs that use technology in their core curriculum.

Critics of the new laws worry about possible implications that might hamper a school's improvement efforts and teacher will start to leave.

"We're concerned that an unintended consequence may be that they can't get staff or keep the staff in those campuses that are going to allow them to turn it around," said Richard Kouri, a lobbyist for the Texas State Teachers Association. "It might have the opposite impact in terms of what we're trying to achieve in those schools."
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