Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Leslie Jacobs Defends Charter Schools

In response to my opinion piece in the T-P about charter schools last Saturday, Leslie Jacobs, the vice-president of BESE, today in a letter to the editor defends charter schools. She claims they are not elite, and do not represent a system of "haves" and "have nots." I disagree with her on these points, but I do agree with her that "our key challenge will be recruiting teachers."


Anonymous HammHawk said...

I know a lot of people who think highly of Leslie Jacobs, but I thought that was a pretty weak letter. She didn't quite seem to be attacking your editorial, and I couldn't quite see what her point was. I'm biased to think well of your points, but I'm not biased to think ill of her, and I just didn't get what she was trying to say in a fairly ethereal letter. Consider yourself un-nailed so far. Maybe if I knew more about school issues I'd see the "oh snap" essence in what she was saying.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Michael Homan said...

As I understand her letter, she is simply saying that I was wrong to argue that charter schools are selective, elitist, and widen the gap between rich and poor. But I still think charter schools, even those you don't test into, are not as "open" as other schools. Some schools, like the RSD schools, are more "open" than others.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I would be interested to read more about your response to Leslie Jacobs' response to your initial letter. I agree that she was not attacking your letter, while your initial letter and your subsequent response posted above seem to unequivocably attack our society in general.

Again, as a father of four that is fortunate enough to be able to send these his children to private school, but nevertheless still makes great sacrifices to make this happen, I along with countless numbers of my peers continue to be very frustrated that the current system is such that we are put in this position.

Although we sit on the Boards of these private schools and support them, we likewise support the Charter School movement as we see this is an initial step to solving the problems with our public school system that have evolved the past sixty years. You might me interested to know that my parents and my in-laws and many of their peers were products of the New Orleans Public School System many years ago.

With that said, clearly the situation in the RSD is unacceptable. The crowding of any school at the expense of a solid education is heartbreaking. However, your initial editorial seems to take things a bit further. As we have talked about in the past, your indictment of society and the "haves and the haves not" just clouds the real issue.

I would suggest that part of your frustration stems from that of a father that chose the noble profession of being an educator, a college professor, as opposed to a professional that garners a higher salary. Yours is a much greater sacrifice than those that I make and it shoudl be commended. This truly is one of the great dilemas of our society. We want the most qualified people teaching our children, but we want to pay them less than what we pay other skilled professionals such as our master plummers and electricians. These inequities are no doubt problematic, but should you fault those who try to break the system and make the Charter School System work? I don't think so. It just sounds a like a whole lot of sour grapes to me.

I sincerely look forward to hearing your additional thoughts on this. Remember, we still need to get together for lunch.



8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Karl,
I ask you to consider that there is pervasive corruption in the awarding of charter schools and Ms. Jacobs has been an integral part of that. I understand that you as a father have done what's neccessary for your children, but you are in fact a 'skimmer.' You are white flight. You are not hands on finding solutions, and you don't see your personal stake in the greater dysfunction.

The "charter system" doesn't work and it never will. No other jurisdiction has a charter system. Ohio and DC have the next highest concentrations of charters, and in Ohio's charters only 11% passed their competency exams. There is no such thing as a successful charter district. Schools are set up to compete instead of collaborate. Parents are encouraged to continuously migrate rather than stay and resolve problems. What we have is universally acknowledged to be an EXPERIMENT. From being on the ground in the trenches, Michael and I can both confidently say this is a failed experiment that is hurting recovering families everyday. The laws have not been followed, and there is no oversight, quality control, rights protections, or baseline standards for the charter schools. As a parent trying to make the school system work everyday instead of commenting from the outside I can tell you its not working. You acknowledge its not working because you won't enroll your kids now will you? What would it take for you to put your kids in a NOLA public school? What would you do if you enrolled yor kids in a charter school, thinking it would be better, and ten finding out its not?

11:15 AM  
Blogger Michael Homan said...

Hey Karl, we will have to get together for lunch. We were going to do that after Mardi Gras, but with my dad's death I've been trying to catch up on stuff ever since. I would say that charter schools have a place, but the regular NOPS and RSD schools need some major attention.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


As a lifelong resident on New Orleans and resident in close proximity to the rain of bullets that comes from Central City I respectfully disagree with your classification of me being "white flight." If you don't think that there is a direct corrolation between education and crime, or the lack thereof, you better reconsider.

This is the main reason myself and peers are interested in the Charter movement. Because while not ideal, it is better than the shi of fools once known as the NEw Orleans School Board. I'll be very honest. I really don't care if people get educated or not. TO put it more bluntly, as a famous movie character once stated, "the world needs ditch diggers too." Unfortunately, those who do not choose to embrace education and make something of themselves aren't satisfied with ditch digging or Mac Nugget serving or be making or ice water glass filling (you get the picture) and they turn to violence and us that do work for things in life to satisfy their primal needs.

If Charter Schools got handed out in a fashion that irks you, than you can join the sour grape stompers as well. In the alternative, I would suggest that you reconsider that they might have been handled out to professionals that had the background, support and means to get things done, regardless of whether it was in education.

As for your question as to what it would take for me to enroll my kids in public school now? I respectfully decline to answer on the grounds that I will be characterized as a racist.



2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I was very sorry to read of your father's passing. Let's try to do it week after next at Juan's or Mandina's. I would like to hear your suggestions as to what the "Private School" sector can do to help solve the problems of charter, NOPS, and RSD schools. I'll get in touch with you then.


2:45 PM  
Blogger Michael Homan said...

The locations sound great. Email me at mhoman then the symbol at and then

7:43 PM  
Anonymous ashley said...

Michael, it seems that the trees are getting in the way of her view of the forest. Wasn't one of your points about fairness?

I don't see how one can consider that "alternate route" uncertified teachers exclusively go to RSD schools, while certified teachers go to charter schools fair by any stretch.

10:40 AM  
Anonymous G Bitch said...

One thing that irked me about Jacobs' letter was her denial of the racial and economic divisions prior to the storm, the RSD and the surge of charter schools. Charter schools are not meant to be a system but an alternative to a competent, coherent, functioning system. And Michael's point about fairness does seem to have been lost. None of the discussion about NO schools has been about the future (much less next year), neighborhoods, the needs of the city and society as a whole, the needs of children or educating anyone for anything. Not yet.

7:41 AM  
OpenID procon4 said...

"But I still think charter schools, even those you don't test into, are not as "open" as other schools."

Charter school admissions by definition are not as open as other RSD schools. The question is are admissions equitable? Is it random, in other words? Or random enough to a degree that with some sort of confidence we can say it's random? I haven't seen or heard any evidence to that point, even though that's what your thesis was in the opinion piece. Give us some facts, not feelings.

Secondly, even if Leslie Jacobs has been unfairly involved in awarding charters, evidence also of which you haven't shared with us, that fact has nothing to do with admissions policies of those unfair charters--again, unless evidence shows otherwise.

Lastly, what is the problem with charters being an experiment, or the fact that some number of parents were told that the schools were going to be better and then they weren't--though again, that claim certainly seems anecdotal? Parents are free to un-enroll and go to an RSD school.

Did you expect charter schools to work a miracle? Of course not, so why are you judging them according to their inability to do so? Time will tell, but I don't think any data indicates that they are overwhelming failures. At least no evidence that you've shared.

8:34 PM  

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