Thursday, June 16, 2011

Well, the parents of my son's school have kind of gotten what they wanted.  Emphasize "kind of":

After failed attempts to arrive at an acceptable mitigation plan with the LA Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), the Orleans Parish School Board announced today that it will postpone its Audubon Charter renovation project until further notice.  
Audubon Charter was scheduled for a two-year comprehensive renovation at its Broadway school in accordance with the School Facilities Master Plan. In order to accommodate the school, the School Board had arranged for a replacement site, known as a swing site, in the Lower Garden District on the block bounded by Richard, Constance, Orange and Annunciation Streets.  
The Annunciation site was selected after an exhaustive search for space in the Uptown area. Because of soil contamination that was previously mitigated at nearby Annunciation playground, the School Board ordered soil samples as part of its due diligence. When that study indicated significant levels of lead in the soil, the Board took steps to outline a mitigation plan, developed by noted scientist, Dr. C. Paul Lo, who has experience in the area. Following a meeting of Audubon parents on May 25, concerned parents contacted LDEQ, which in turn called for meetings and communication that resulted in suspension of the project.  
School Board President Lourdes Moran said student safety is her highest priority. “Unfortunately, LDEQ’s recommendation would not allow the charter operator to meet its projected August opening. Therefore, it made the project impossible to begin at this time. The School Board will review its process for all projects scheduled for Orleans Parish. We will continue to identify a suitable location that is safe for our school children.”  

More info can be found here. The fur - and the lead - was flying over this back in late May. It was of course going to come to this, but bathrooms and facilities still in dire need of work are preferable to lead.

What I am now wondering is when nearby districts will start doing this:
From the Washington Independent:
A school board in Virginia has voted unanimously to leave No Child Left Behind, which would mean joining a bevy of other boards across the country in sending a resolution to Sec. of Education Arne Duncan asking for the request. 
The petition is a joint effort by The American Association of School Administrators and the National School Boards Association to “urge—absent Congressional reauthorization—immediate regulatory relief for the 2011-12 school year, and any efforts to rescind or modify current regulations and alleviate undue pressure on the nation’s schools.” 
The letter continues: 
We urge the Department of Education to exercise their regulatory authority to relieve school districts from the constraints of current statutes, keeping schools from being held hostage while Congress moves forward with complete reauthorization. We request that this relief be straight regulatory relief, not waivers. Schools deserve straight regulatory relief, and not the additional requirements or conditions that often come with waivers. We specifically support suspension of additional sanctions under current AYP requirements, effective for the 2011-12 school year. (Schools currently facing sanctions would remain frozen; no new schools would be labeled as ‘In Need of Improvement’ or subject to new or additional sanctions.)
Over 900 school districts have signed onto the proposal
900 is a lot. 
The joint effort by associations which represent school boards and school administrators is not insignificant. The massive number of school districts which have opted out of No Child Left Behind dwarfs the eight state level education heads whom want the strict guidelines maintained to support their own reform efforts.
It's too late for this for the New Orleans schools, I fear. We're too frazzled from trying to maintain what we already have. It's unfortunately up to all of these other drops in the bucket of NCLB mutiny to fill the bucket and douse the standardized testing that has run amuck in public education. Best we can do as parents is keep fighting it and not to let it overwhelm us and our children.

1 comment:

Hannah Miet said...

Hi Leigh. I'm writing a story about the renovation stall and am looking to chat with parents. If you're willing, please shoot me a line: hmiet@timespicayune.com