Photograph; Prekindergartners at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School for Science and Technology in New Orleans practice singing “Jingle Bell Rock” in preparation for their upcoming holiday show. | Christopher Powers/Education Week
There are Miracles that never were and those that flourish unabated. Who could have predicted that a country founded in democracy and freedom of information might deny its children an excellent, exceptional, and public education? Surely, Thomas Jefferson did not think this our mission. In a letter penned to George Wythe, on 13 August 1786 Jefferson exclaimed, “Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish and improve the law for educating the common people.” Our forefathers did not think that ultimately “the people” would allow their “leaders” to redirect public funds to a Charter School education. But with a turn of phrase and a bit of persuasion countless were sold on the idea that Charter Schools offered a better “public” education. Miracle upon miracle Americans forfeited their vision. Perhaps, we became obsessed with the fear of failing.
A decade ago, an entire School District was defamed. New Orleans schools and students were characterized as products of a flawed system, in other words, as dreaded, “failing.” Then Hurricane Katrina hit. This was seen as an opportunity, an opportunity to make a drastic change. And so we did. Encouraged or persuaded the people trusted a novel claim. “Education Reformers” said a fully privatized
In New Orleans we dove deeply. We leapt, before we looked, and possibly in the wrong direction. Now it is time to ask ourselves some necessary questions. Are our children doing better? And what exactly is “failing?”
The Miracle That Never Was – More Bad News for New Orleans School Children
Charles Hatfield of Research on Reforms recently released his analysis of the 2014 LEAP results in Math and English language arts. “The Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) test is the series of annual assessments in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies in 4th and 8th grades.” It is Louisiana’s state mandated test taken by all the public schools to determine student and school district’s academic progress.
Once again the results are not promising for the Recovery School District of New Orleans. The Recovery School District of New Orleans labeled by education reformers as the national model of turning around poor performing school districts has consistently performed poorly academically since it took over control of the majority of public schools in New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina.
Hatfield concludes the following in his report:
However, despite the achievement gains reported during the past nine years by the ardent supporters of this ”reform” movement, the RSD-NO is still performing below the vast majority of the other districts at the 4th and 8th grades in each subject.
Hatfield report can be read here: Comparison of 2014 LEAP Results for Recovery School District New Orleans to Other Districts
One really has to wonder when the nation is going to realize that the privatization of schools in New Orleans has been a failure academically in addition to creating equity and access challenges for the mostly poor and minority population of New Orleans.
More importantly the education reforms in New Orleans is prove for the nation that the market model approach to improving public education touted by education reformers for years can’t work.