Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Charter School Lobby Touts LEAP Results

Back in 2006 the New York Times ran an article about how students at charter schools scored worse than students in regular public schools. The pro-charter lobby, who wants to privatize public education, needed their own experiment to illustrate how charter schools were superior to public schools. Katrina gave them the opportunity for which they were looking.

Today is the day I predicted back in March of 2007. In this blog and in an opinion piece for the Times-Picayune, I wrote that the pro-charter lobby would use the LEAP scores to claim charter schools are the answer to improve public education. It turns out that charter schools scored better than Recover School District schools in New Orleans. Big freaking deal. Being that many RSD schools had 40 children in a classroom whereas charter schools were able to cap enrollment at about 22 is a major factor. Being that charter schools had certified teachers whereas many RSD schools did not is a major factor. Also notice that the top performing schools, such as Lusher and Audubon, have a selective admissions policy. Another factor was the total incompetance of the RSD governing body. Two of the quotations made me cringe. Brian Riedlinger, the president of Algiers Charter Schools, said that "One of the things we know about successful schools is that they have successful principals." The best principal I have ever met, Keith Bartlett, works at Dibert Elementary, a school where 78% of 4th graders did not score "basic." Leslie Jacobs, the president of the state run BESE school board and who has been pushing for all of New Orleans schools to become charters, claims that students at charter schools feel ownership which empowers them. I went to a great government-run public school and all of the students there felt ownership. What New Orleans needs is a quality school board, something that has been lacking for many years. To compare charter schools to schools run by the RSD is not a fair comparison, and I hope that some journalists dig a bit deeper into this situation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Agree and disagree: I always knew the scores would show this as the expanding list of charters culled away all but the most needy kids, and then the disorganization of RSD made things worse.

However, part of the reason to charter is to get out of the constrictionary (not sure that's a word) policies of dysfunctional boards like the OPSB and RSD.

The big victories are schools like Wright, MLK elementary and Behrman and the Algiers Charters, which have many poor, African-American kids and who did wonderfully well.

Those kids were able to escape the dysfunctional mess.

Yes, we need to serve all students, but that will take a major overhaul that I'm not sure this city is ready to commit to. In the interim - as sorry as it sounds - it has to be every man for himself. I'd much rather have these kids who were destined for failure, now succeeding at Wright and Behrman and the Algiers Charters.

By the way, Algiers Charters include almost ALL kids in Algiers and are predominately poor and African-AMerican kids. Their only advantage is free of the constriction of ridiculous policies and better organization.

Let's not deny those who are succeeding, but figure out a way to get the others to do so as well.

And, there needs to be some selective schools, because many of the other schools don't offer the advanced academics that are needed by the high achievers.