The New Orleans charter school myth exploded | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The New Orleans charter school myth exploded

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2015 at 12:14 PM

Care about public schools? Give a read to this article from In These Times debunking the myth that charter schools have remade New Orleans education. Money from the Waltons and other billionaires of the "reform" movement made New Orleans a lab for their schemes.

No amount of fun with the numbers can cover the ill effects. Compare like groups of charter students and those in regular public schools in Louisiana and the regular schools outperform the charters. Neighborhoods have been ripped apart. Black employees have been cast aside. A "no-excuses" model of education might produce orderly classrooms (the biz executives LOVE quiet children marching in straight lines in uniforms) but there's little proof yet that it's a superior education model. Charters also target students likely to succeed and try to get rid of bad apples to enhance high-stakes test scores. Dropout rates are clearly bogus. They are reported to be low, but nobody really knows where huge numbers of disappeared children have gone.

This is what the Waltons had — and have — in mind for Little Rock. And they have plenty of friends in the legislature and education hierarchy to help them make it happen. Save this article. It summarizes the sentiments of people from 10 cities experimented on by the billionaires club:

Many who have seen charters replace traditional public schools report the same problems that New Orleans residents describe: closures of public schools that held neighborhoods together, younger and less experienced teachers, the loss of union jobs, experimental teaching practices that can be rigid or harsh, cherrypicking of students and rapid teacher burn-out. 

In an email to In These Times, New York University education professor and NPE founder Diane Ravitch summarized the emerging, less-rosy narrative of the New Orleans model, “That model requires firing all the teachers, no matter their performance, allowing them to reapply for a job, and replacing many of them with inexperienced TFA recruits. That model requires wiping out public schools and replacing them with privately managed schools that set their own standards for admission, discipline, expulsion, and are financially opaque. These heavy-handed tactics require a suspension of democracy that would not be tolerated in a white suburb, but can be done to powerless urban districts where the children are black and Hispanic.” 

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