Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Having just recovered from having to present my homestead exemption, my car's registration and proof of car insurance, my Entergy bill, and my W-2 so that my son can attend his school for another year (I fully expect them to go beyond copies of those original documents and go straight for blood tests some year in an attempt to completely blow out of the water any Ohio parenting-type moves to get your child in an exemplary New Orleans public school), I wasn't really in the mood for attending this meeting at Loyola last night.  So glad Coozan Pat was there.  Some observations of his:
Going over the program, I think about the title. "5 Years Later." As if New Orleans public schools have only been having problems for 5 years. 
(Panelist Laura) Mogg says the Cowen Institute is an action-based think tank focusing on reforming education and research. Even though Tulane University has no College of Education. 
I hate to be the one to bring this up, but we're discussing the New Orleans Public Schools, which serves a largely African-American population. And yet. Not one panelist is African-American. 
Charter schools great because neighborhoods can participate, but what happens when there is a charter in a good part of the city with massive donations compared to a charter in New Orleans East or the Lower 9 where those donations may not be available.
I found this question and the panelists' answers to be especially intriguing:
...when the question was asked about a successful school system, nobody brought up the local universities. With the only college of education locally at UNO and having trouble, what is the role between universities and local schools. 
Hancock - Loyola used to have school of education, but no longer has it. Have to do better 
Guitterrez - New Teacher Project offering alternative certification, so folks at the state level began investigating ways to offer alternative certification. 
Asher - many Teach for America teachers want to continue studies and get masters' degrees and Ph.D's and there is no opportunity to do that here. 
Bonin - educating our teachers needs to be a state or government priority, especially teachers that come out of private universities.
What has really changed? Check Pat's conclusions for more. Go read the whole thing.  More can be found at The Lens' livetweeting of the panel.

And as for how I knew about it, it was through Pat.  Who else knew?

 Mixed crowd of  students,  officials & assorted ed wonks @  panel. I see very few public school parents.

Not the public schools:

 @ I knew nothing about it as a charter school president. You would think someone would publicize.

Update, 1:18 PM: To reply to the comments: Yes, Loyola did get the word out, but what I wonder about is if it reached the public schools and, if so, why it didn't trickle down to the parents and the kids. What is the big whoop about not letting parents know about these meetings?

Anudder update, 10:53 PM: G-Bitch gives us her take:

  • I was and will continue to be troubled by those like Asher who assert that they and their “peers” didn’t care about public education because OPSB was “so corrupt” and the teachers were all bad. It is not a secret that many blacks, women, and black women worked in the schools, and the OPSB as a body, schools an integral part of the picture, was perceived as black, or black-identified. The conviction that all the teachers were bad is unrealistic on its face and insulting in intent. Teachers were fired en masse, the good and bad, the ones with potential and the ones who probably would never be anything but mediocre. Or administrators. All were assumed tainted, though if you look at some of the selective admission charter schools, you’ll see teachers with many years of experience, some of that in OPSB. You also see more and more teachers with less and less experience in even these schools. Those bottom-line issues Bonin ”bluntly” spoke of.

  • Most of what they talked about was governance. Little about teachers, other than how important it is to be able to fire and hire them at will, nothing about students really, and parents when Guttierrez asserted poor and black families, not many of whom were in the audience, that “you, too, have options that are high-performing.” The question is how to exercise this choice in a “system” he admitted can be “confusing.” And when it’s all about the students, the children, why are they so tangential to the discussion, or “discussion”?

  • Update, 2/18: Pat has some more meditations on the Loyola panel with good thoughts on what makes a good school system.


    Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

    Thanks for the link!

    Do keep in mind that this event was organized by two Loyola student organizations, not some large, well-funded local advocacy group or some ragtag group of bloggers :).

    The notice has been the front of Loyola's homepage for almost a week, the campus was blanketed in posters, and I can almost guarantee that press releases were organized to local media. As for the home front, my editor forwarded the link to the blogger list.

    I don't know what else the organizers could have done to really get the word out for an hour and a half panel on a Tuesday.

    Leigh C. said...

    My apologies, Greg at suspect device, for accidentally deleting the following:

    "And as for how I knew about it, it was through Pat. Who else knew?"

    Well, it was on the blogger email list. And I knew about it because I subscribe to the Loyola Civic Engagement email announcements.

    Thing is, I too saw it on the bloggers' listserve as well as Pat's blog, but if the news of it got passed on to the administrators of the local public schools, I didn't see much evidence of it trickling down to, say, a notice in my son's backpack or an email on his school's listserve. Sorry I didn't make that clear. 8-/

    Anonymous said...

    re: "I hate to be the one to bring this up, but we're discussing the New Orleans Public Schools, which serves a largely African-American population. And yet. Not one panelist is African-American." As an African American Public School Parent I wondered the same thing. I happened to be at the meeting and immediately thought that it's a shame that the organizers of this event didn't see it problematic that the panel did not include at least one African American. But then again, the makeup of the panel is emblematic of the problem with the carpetbagger education reform efforts that are being perpetrated upon the children of New Orleans.

    I just discovered your blog as I get ready to start my own. I'll be in touch.

    Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

    Oh, you expected the schools to be notified, and in turn notify their students' parents?

    Guess we can't accuse you of not having high expectations!