I read today that the Greater New Orleans Education Foundation, Scott Cowen's Institute for Public Education Initiatives, and the New Orleans City Council Education Committee released their report on the state of public education in New Orleans. The report brags about "extensive community engagement." I went to several of these meetings, and the recommendations that I heard from the community, teachers, parents, and education leaders didn't quite make it into the report in my opinion. The report lists six primary recommendations:
1. Ensure adequate capacity for the 2007-2008 year.
I agree, of course, but I hope there will be community input in these decisions. I doubt there will be from past experience and the nearness of the new school year.
2. Equip and empower all families to choose the best public schools for their children from a range of high-quality options.
This sounds like it was written by Leslie Jacobs and the pro-charter lobby.There is nothing about neighborhood schools. This is plain and simple forcing public education in New Orleans into a business model, and this will continue to widen the achievement gap and break down communities. Companies such as Edison will certainly benefit.
3. Strenghten the Recovery School District. I would not have chosen the word "strenghten." Perhaps improve, or try something outrageous like prepare hot food and get books. But the last sentence of this recommendation I applaud with skepticism. It states "Last, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the RSD’s governing board, should create a process and timetable for returning public schools in New Orleans to local control." Amen. Currently the people in New Orleans have one elected official on the BESE board. That is not right.
4. Attract, develop, and retain high-quality school principals, teachers, and staff for all public schools.
5. Support school- and system-level excellence for all public schools.
6. Create and endorse a short-term action plan and a long-term strategic plan for public education.
We have been lacking vision in our leadership. They even say a plan that builds on previous planning processes, and "communicated." Let's hope.