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Soon it may be more than baseball players who are worried about a third strike.
Utah Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, wants to hold public schools to the same rule of elimination as athletes.
Osmond is sponsoring legislation that would convert failing schools into state-run charters after three consecutive years of low performance.
"I think there is a recognition that we need to do something," Osmond said. "We can't just sit there and let a school continue to fail year after year."
Osmond's bill still is being written, but he envisions a policy that empowers the state school board to assume management of a school and oversee its administration.
Performance would be measured based on Utah's school grading system, he said, but could include aspects of Gov. Gary Herbert's PACE report cards, which the state school board started using last year.
"I don't want this to be black and white," he said. "I want this to be a process that starts at three years and ends at five years, with the state board's full management of the school."
Using Osmond's standard, four Utah schools would be on the cusp of being taken over.
A total of 30 schools, including six charter schools and the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind, received an "F" grade last year, according to the Utah Office of Education.
The Utah Virtual Academy, San Juan County's Tse'bii'nidzisgai Elementary and Monument Valley High School and Duchesne County's Myton Elementary were the only four Utah schools to receive two consecutive "F" grades in 2013 and 2014.
Already, the lawmaker's idea is generating pushback.
The state school board is not yet on board, nor are the Utah Education Association and the pro-charter advocacy group Parents For Choice in Education.
School board chairman David Crandall said "it would be a little weird" for the board to assume control of a school.
"It doesn't seem to be consistent with the oversight role that the state board of education plays," he said.
And Utah Education Association executive director Lisa Nentl-Bloom said Osmond's proposal ignores the causes of school failure, which are not solved by a new school format.
"I would have a difficult time saying charters schools are a silver bullet," she said. "I've witnessed charters schools that are absolutely gems and some that really are not that stellar."
A recent analysis of school grades by The Salt Lake Tribune found that performance largely corresponds with demographic factors including racial diversity and family income.
Along the Wasatch Front, no school that earned an "A" grade had a minority student population greater than 35 percent of its student body. And no "F" school had a minority percentage less than 37 percent.
Even charter school advocates hesitated Friday to endorse the idea.
Parents for Choice executive director Judi Clark said her organization has not worked with Osmond on his proposal and would likely oppose it.
"We know nothing about his bill and the little bit we do know, we don't support," she said.
Clark said school grading has succesfully generated conversations about school improvement. But ongoing changes to the grading formula and Utah's recent launch of a new testing system, SAGE, make it premature to take the kind of action Osmond is considering.
"Before we use data to make decisions, we need to make sure we have the right data at our fingertips," she said.
Besides, Clark added, establishing a charter does not guarantee a school's success.
"To say that because a school is designated as a charter school it inherently improves would be just as naive as to say that because it's a district school we should never touch it," she said.
Osmond acknowledges that the bill faces an uphill battle in the Legislature, where some lawmakers remain skeptical of school grading.
"I am expecting a very robust debate," he said. "I don't believe that this is an area where we are unified as a Legislature."
But, he argues, no matter how many schools are earning "F" grades or why, steps should be taken to correct consistent failure.
Osmond said the intention of his bill is not to increase the number of charter schools in the state or hand schools over to private management companies, though he said both are possible outcomes.
"There are many charters that are not succeeding and I feel as strongly about holding those charters accountable for their performance," he said. "This isn't about just district schools. This bill is about failing schools."
Gov. Gary Herbert's spokesman declined to comment on a bill that's being drafted. But spokesman Marty Carpenter said the governor looks forward to reviewing Osmond's proposal with members of his policy team.
"The governor is focused on supporting administrators, teachers and students with the resources they need to succeed," he said. "The right approach, one that is balanced with accountability and flexibility, is key."