Oil Spot Or Oil Slick?

While the importance of rebuilding New Orleans and doing right by the people who live there cannot be overstated, I remain very concerned that using New Orleans as a “proof point” or exemplar for various education reforms is a strategy that carries a high risk of backfiring. The circumstances there are so unique — and so challenging — that except at a pretty discreet level around particular initiatives, I don’t see how we can draw big generalizations from the post-Katrina experience. And, I worry that if New Orleans becomes the market test for ideas like charter schools, charter districts, or the oil spot strategy it won’t be a fair test anyway and consequently set promising ideas back. The people involved, profiled in Walter Issacson’s recent Time piece, are exceptional and I support the work and am part of the project Walter references. It’s just the framing/communications around this that gives me pause. Charter schools are already paying a price for over-promising early, it’s a lesson worth heeding. So keep up the good work but keep down the rhetoric.

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