A number of states began passing takeover legislation in the 1980s, but nationally, most takeovers are of whole school districts, rather than individual schools, said Kathy Christie, coordinator for the information clearinghouse of Education Commission of the States, a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy group started by governors in 1965.
"Normally, if it's a district functioning properly, [administrators there] will take care of a school here and there," Ms. Christy said. "A good district, one that is on top of its business, will do that as a matter of good practice. They won't just let a malfunctioning school continue to operate."
Gov. Parris N. Glendening said that although he wasn't aware of the specific issues, but, "If you have local officials actively resisting it, if you have teachers actively resisting it, our ability to do the job is less.
"We all agree with the bottom line: We have to do better with education. And there must be rewards and punishments based on performance," he said.
Dr. Amprey said one of the targeted schools already receives state grants; another receives federal assistance because of the number of low-income students enrolled; the third was the recipient of private grants. The schools have started reforms, he argued, and need time to see the fruits of their labor blossom.
At the school system's press conference at its North Avenue headquarters, Irene Dandridge, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, backed the school board's position.
"Butt out. Let us make our own improvements," she said. "I think it's high time that the city rejected the notion that the state knows better how to fix the city's schools. We're so busy meeting state mandates that we don't have time to meet the needs of our schools."