Austin School District Plans To Board The CEP Train To Nowhere

It looks like Austin ISD is ready to take the Houston ISD route and dump some of its troubled kids into the hands of Community Education Partners, the for-profit operator of alternative schools throughout the country. CEP operates two facilities here in Houston and as we've noted before, seems to be an academic reservoir for minority students in the district that the schools don't want.

In a recommendation to the board, various Austin school district administrators say that despite their best efforts, a "large number of 7th, 8th and 9th grade students ...are repeating grades, failing to pass the TAKS and/or ... lack the basic skills to be successful in high school."  They are proposing to form a partnership with CEP beginning in the 2009-2010 school year and "to assign approximately 648 (approximately?) students from grades 8th and 9th to Community Education Partners alternative education plan."

In making the proposal they point to the the "success" of the CEP program in the Orange County Public Schools of Ocala, Florida, including stats showing that high school students sent to CEP "earned an average of 9.8 credits and 1.7 grade promotions after an average attendance of 191 days allowing many to catch up with their grade."

Missing from the proposal are less favorable reports from other places, such as that the Dallas ISD dropped the program a few years ago, that the Atlanta American Civil Liberties Union sued the Atlanta school district and CEP saying it did a lousy job of instruction, reports that things didn't go all that smoothly in Pittsburgh in its inaugural year there in 2007-8 and that the Philadelphia school district wasn't all that happy with how CEP and its other alternative schools were operating and slashed their budgets for 2008-9.

About all the kids in Austin ISD can hope for is that they've got some school board members willing to Google before they vote.

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