Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Yesterday, E begged somebody, anybody to head to the hastily-organized Recovery School District status meeting at the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church.

Amy Lafont complied, and I'm glad she did.

Tonight at the hastily-announced RSD update meeting, I asked Paul Pastorek who was working on the return of schools to local governance. First, he said no-one was, then he said Bob O’Reilly with the Greater New Orleans Education Foundation. Mr. Pastorek further said that we must first define what type of system we want, then he said we cannot return the schools to a local system without the capacity to manage them.

I have heard of GNOEF before, not in a positive light (and not really since). Let’s look again:


Criteria for Board Selection :

Business, political and university leaders with strong interest in public education reform were chosen to lead the Foundation in its objectives and policies.

Executive Board :
Robert D. Riley (Co-Chair) - Vice President, The Reily Companies

Alden J. McDonald, Jr. (Co-Chair) - President & CEO, Liberty Bank and Trust

C. Ray Nagin (Vice-Chair) - Mayor, City of New Orleans

James Reiss, Jr. - Reiss Companies, LLC

Kenneth E. Pickering (Finance Co-Chair) - Partner, Pickering & Cotogno

Elizabeth Rack (Finance Co-Chair) - Former OPSB Member

Paul G. Pastorek - General Counsel, NASA

Dr. Gerri Elie - Retired Professor, Dillard University

R. King Milling - President, Whitney National Bank

Herschel L. Abbott, Jr. - Former President, Bell South-Louisiana

Dr. Brenda L. Mitchell - President, United Teachers of New Orleans

Florida Woods - President, Professional Administrators of New Orleans Public Schools

Policy Board :

Dr. Scott S. Cowen - President, Tulane University

Dr. Norman C. Francis - President, Xavier University

Dr. Alex Johnson - President, Delgado Community College

Rev. William J. Byron, S.J. - President, Loyola University

Dr. Timothy P. Ryan - Chancellor, University of New Orleans

Dr. Press L. Robinson - Chancellor, Southern University of New Orleans

Dr. Paul T. Caesar - President, Our Lady of Holy Cross College

Notice all the higher education folks on the policy board - and note that only one of the schools represented on the board has had the AAUP censure lifted. I wonder what sort of hiring practices will become a part of the RSD as a result of their judgments on policy?

Read the rest here. It goes into greater detail about key members of the movers and shakers behind the demise of public education in this city. And that final plea of hers is quite serious:

Too many lawyers, no parents. No hands-on educators, for that matter, either.

Can people who actually are a part of the public school system please have a voice in it?

Why are we begging? Haven’t we been through enough?


From the department of "Dear God, I'm so glad somebody outside of this city has been keeping tabs on the evisceration of our public education system." -

I admitted to someone recently that I was late to the words and findings of this woman's important work concerning what is going on in New Orleans. Leigh Dingerson was no doubt quoted in a recent Washington Post article on the charter schools here in part because she works out of the DC area, but also because she knows her stuff. A more recent version of the "Narrow and Unlovely" article that was published by Rethinking Schools last year is in an important book that ought to be required reading for educators, parents and administrators all over this country.
Keeping The Promise?: The Debate Over Charter Schools wouldn't be here without the help of these folks, either.

From Dingerson's Epilogue, January 2008:

...troubling aspects of chartering are beginning to emerge. In September 2007, the governing board at Lafayette Academy ousted Mosaica Education as the school's management company, charging that Mosaica had failed to live up to its promises to align the school's curriculum with state standards, and to create Individualized Education Plans for disabled students, among other things. Over 20 teachers and 200 students had left the school after its inaugural year.

On a broader scale, evidence is emerging that New Orleans charter schools, like a number of charter schools elsewhere, are failing to accept and/or to provide services to special needs students. The Times-Picayune reported that towards the end of the 2006-07 school year, the city's charter schools had lower percentages of special education students than the average, and that the Recovery district was serving a disproportionate number of disabled students.

Concerns around "push-outs" at charter schools - where charters pressure parents to "voluntarily withdraw" their child and to enroll instead in a traditional public school - have increased. Anecdotal evidence has been compelling enough that a national public television documentary is being developed to look at the issue.

The assessment scores in New Orleans in 2007 were, as expected, mixed. Some charter schools did well, others did not, and overall more charters showed declines in their test scores than showed improvement. Meanwhile, students continue to flood back into the Big Easy, many with physical and psychological needs that make it crucial that the city's public education system serve them with fairness and purpose. (boldface mine)

Can the market do that? The evidence so far clearly says no.

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