Friday, November 12, 2010

This link from the Cowen Institute appeared in the comments this morning addressing the concerns voiced in the previous post. Please read it all.  I am thankful for the response and the clarifications within concerning the question of why AP courses are not offered at all RSD schools, with specific attention paid to John McDonogh High's situation concerning why it has thus far been impossible for the Institute's AdvanceNOLA programs to make headway there.  I hope they keep trying for the McDonogh students' sake, but they do not have the ultimate authority in the matter.  The RSD needs to 'fess up.

To clarify my own positions:

I still think the best way to deal with public education's challenging troubles in this city is to follow a model closer to that of Raleigh, NC's in which all the schools are held to high standards and the population mixes in the school system are not based on race but on economic status.  It doesn't mean charters cannot operate in the system, but it does mean that the racial issues do not have as much of a hold on the discourse involving the schools' operations.  Greater attention can then be given to the things that really matter, like learning.  And it ain't just this city, it's the whole country in this fix.*  So nice to know Louisiana's only just behind Serbia in its students' math proficiency,* too, but I digress.

People who are genuinely trying to help are hog-tied by the massive decentralization that comes with the large numbers of charters that are here, which hampers accountability and transparency in the decisions made concerning the schools, making it much easier for the district officials purportedly in charge to pass the buck on questions such as why AP courses are offered in some schools and not in others.  Running around to all the charters' board meetings is even less helpful when most of them won't even comply with Louisiana's open meetings law.  What everyone is left with, then, is an overall feeling of frustration and helplessness stemming from everyone who wants public education here to improve, but is not sure who exactly to take their grievances to - or the people in charge are not forthcoming with their answers, their sympathy, or their time and willingness to work things out.  Hence the defensiveness, the anger, the events in which people listen for one reason and speak out on their grievances in the hopes that the right people will be somehow listening, will give them the answers they seek, will raise their consciousness.

This is where we are with the public schools right now.  And it's not a good place to be.

*Thanks to @valmcginley for The Atlantic links.

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