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New Orleans has the largest percentage of charter schools than any city in the country. Post Hurricane Katrina, state education officials said that practically all of the public schools in New Orleans were failing and that charter schools would dramatically improve the quality of education for thousands of children. Eight years later in New Orleans most of those school taken over by the state are rated either a “D” or F”. In addition to creating failing schools, most charter schools are managed by self appointing boards who have no accountability to the parents or the community.
Dr. Morna Mcdermott, Professor at Townson University, has written extensively on why democracy is important in public education. In this show Dr.Mcdermott explains the fundamentally flaws in privatizing public education in a democratic society.
Education journalist Kari Harden recent article in the Louisiana Weekly which describes the unethical if not illegal use of a $800,000 federal grant awarded to John McDonogh Charter High School from New Schools for New Orleans. Ms. Harden’s article revealed that most of these funds awarded to John McDonogh Charter High School was used for unusually high salaries to members of the school’s charter management company and the school’s principal while the school struggled to survive financially.
Last year Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, co-chair of the Senate Public Charter School Caucus in Washington, DC, hosted a forum for education policymakers. The forum featured the New Schools for New Orleans report New Orleans-Style Education Reform: A Guide for Cities. This report was be hailed as a “national” model for turning around urban school districts.
Attached is a response to this report from the Urban South Grassroots Research Collective which includes education scholars and those affiliated with longstanding educational and cultural organizations in New Orleans.
The response essay points out the fundamental flaws in the New Schools for New Orleans report and reveals many of failures and challenges facing poor and minority students.
Broader Bolder Approach to Education Study reports on the impacts of test-based teacher evaluations, school closures, and increased charter school access on student outcomes in New York, Chicago and Washington D.C.
There has been an extraordinary amount of media coverage of the unfound success of the education reforms (charter schools) in New Orleans. The corporate reforms PR machine has also been successful at ignoring the traditional schools under the control of the locally elected school board. After Hurricane Katrina and the state takeover of more than 100 schools, Orleans Parish School Board was left with it best performing schools (many of which had admission requirements). These schools reopened as charters and traditional run schools. The traditional run schools with admission requirements lowered standards accepted all students. Ignored and unnoticed these traditional schools has emerged as one of the most highly rated school district in the state.
At his New Orleans event, John Merrow admitted that he knew that New Orleans charter schools can have selective admission requirements, but chose not to reveal this in his film, “REBIRTH- New Orleans.i” The film cites the accomplishments of the New Orleans charter school movement, while neglecting to disclose that several New Orleans charter schools have selective admission and retention requirements, allowing the schools to educate only students who are not at-risk.
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Research on Reforms, Dr. Barbara Ferguson