Thursday, October 02, 2008

Yes, I'm disgusted with the Times-Picayune, same as E. They took a meeting that determines the future of our public schools' facilities in a major way and stuffed it into a corner. Sadly, I'm not surprised...just disgusted.

The one article on the schools that was put on the front page, however, has got me wondering...

Several schools in the Recovery School District are likely to become charter schools in the next few years as part of a continuing push toward school decentralization in New Orleans (emphasis mine), which already has the highest percentage of charters of any city in the country.

Independent charter operators will probably take over the lower grades of at least four poorly performing schools next fall, said district Superintendent Paul Vallas. At the same time, the top-performing district schools, probably about a third of the elementary-level programs, will be given the option of applying for charters over the next two years, he said.

All of the changes need the approval of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The move is part of an effort, pushed by Vallas and state Superintendent Paul Pastorek, to create a system in which successful schools can "graduate" out of the state-run district and attain more autonomy, while failing schools receive swift help, sometimes from outside school operators.

I find myself wondering if the farkakhte Master Plan actually has some sort of privatizing rationale behind it, i.e.:

Go charter and save your school building.

Yesterday, Paul Vallas was jumping up and down about how the RSD, BESE, and the OPSD had to jump on the bandwagon and accept the SFMPOP, or else the money for the first couple of phases of the plan would be going right down the tubes. There is a great deal more money available out there for charter schools than for open enrollment, "traditional" public schools to pick themselves back up and get going again.

Couple all of this with an emergency order that is still in effect:

This transformation of a school system was orchestrated largely outside of New Orleans. In fact, state law was changed to eliminate requirements that parents and teachers in New Orleans have a voice in the restructuring. After the storm, then-Governor Kathleen Blanco issued an Executive Order that waived, among others, a provision requiring two thirds of teachers, and a majority of parents to agree to the conversion of a public school to a charter school. That Executive Order remains in effect today, though the “emergency” it proclaimed has clearly passed.

...and many community developers who want to get their neighborhoods up and going again are stuck with no schools with which to help attract young families. Unless they go the charter route.

Yes, it's an effort to shrink the footprint of New Orleans.

It is also another chapter in the story of the continuing siege on public education in this city.

And our Recovery Czar and our Walking Id of a mayor are only too happy to help fund it.

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