Who Is Missing From The NOLA Education Debate? The NOLA Educators…

I have a column in U.S. News & World Report today:

This week’s 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is sparking the usual sparring between education reformers and their critics about New Orleans. What’s new, right? On one key issue, though, the reformers and their opponents too often seem to agree: New Orleans’ education reform is largely an outsiders’ project. It’s an idea that while useful for both sides and a conflict-addicted media, is disrespectful to a lot of New Orleans educators and distorts the complicated story of that city’s schools…

…I’m not trying to convince you about the success of the New Orleans education reforms. Although there is little dispute among serious analysts that the schools are better now, in aggregate, than in 2004, there are plenty of complicated particulars and real questions about how the well the model can travel. Rather, the point is the next time you hear a simplistic story about New Orleans education, dig deeper. As with most things in that great city, there is usually more there.

Some angles on that story and some of those educators? It’s all right here in USN’s “Report,” which includes a special NOLA package. Send me your stories of great New Orleans educators or tweet them to me @arotherham.

13 Replies to “Who Is Missing From The NOLA Education Debate? The NOLA Educators…”

  1. “Although there is little dispute among serious analysts that the schools are better now, in aggregate, than in 2004, there are plenty of complicated particulars and real questions about how the well the model can travel.”
    As one who worked in the pre Katrina system as an Orleans Parish Teaching Fellow, I agree the schools are surely better now. At the same time, the reformers have exaggerrated their success and created a two tiered system that is to a great degree racially based. Take a look at the Uptown Lusher schools and the boundary that assures a white majority: http://lusherschooldistrictmap.com/
    One area that needs to be examined is the large amount of “creaming” that is going on by charter schools in New Orleans. Indeed, as Chris Barbic recantly admitted, a great deal of the succes of charters nation wide is because of their ability to select their students.

  2. Herding poor children into all-black academies that have a prison atmosphere, complete with security guards or police officers, cannot be accepted as a model of reform for education in our country. We can do better and I predict that we will.

    The schools that have “succeeded” have subscribed to the old tried and true formula for a “good” school: select your student population. To me, the worst aspect of this school “reform” movement has been the dishonesty of it.

  3. Selecting students is a good idea- really what we need more of to ensure that disadvantaged kids get a fair shot. If we insist on age based grades, the differences between students are too great to be handled by in class differentiation. There are some students who have problems that hurt other students. The idea of forcing those problems on the kids that are ready to learn is the fundamental unfairness of the system to the disadvantaged learner, whose parents do not have the means to select a school by moving to another area.

  4. I worked at MC28 before the storm. It was prison like then. We had 200 students and 3 armed guards. Memc you are right. Students don’t deserve to have disruptive students around them. However, if a school can eliminate the most challenging students, it should not claim it is solving the problem. The students they are eliminating are a prime cause of school failure. In addition, where do the eliminated students go? Of course, to regular public schools that are then blamed for poor performance.

  5. Yes, I think selecting students is a good idea too. Almost everyone I know (including me) chose a school based on the student population. That is, we chose schools where children were at or above grade level and were generally well-behaved. Even at that, I wasn’t satisfied with the public school I chose so transferred my sons to “Holy Innocents Academy.” Oh, yes, the scores there were higher, much higher. However, no one said that Holy Innocents was “better.” We all knew that English language learners, discipline problems and low achievers need not apply. Yes, it does make a difference!

    What’s wrong about New Orleans is the dishonesty: people claiming that the supposed improvements are due to better instruction and better (younger, whiter) teachers. No, the improvement, if there is any, is due to selected students, a change in demographics from before Katrina, and probable invalidation of test scores and manipulation of numbers of graduates and just plain false reporting of data. Fortunately that information is now coming out.

    Teachers know that every school, even the poorest, has students who are at or above grade level (I’d estimate about 25% in low income schools). Put these children in a school of their own, and voila, you’ve got a “good” school.

    The problem we face in New Orleans and in all other urban schools is this: How do we offer a quality education to ALL the students, or at least a vast majority of them?

    David Triche understood what I was saying: selecting your student population might be great for some students, but where do the eliminated students go? They, too, are our children.

  6. I will accept the charter claims if:

    1. They open all books for the past ten years for the thorough scrutiny of an independent auditing board.
    2. They accept ALL students regardless of the application procedure.
    3. The accept the same ed code as the publics or allow the publics the same freedom from the ed code.
    5. They endorse universal vouchers.
    6. They accept the exact same take-over provisions as the publics.

    I am ready to accept the superiority of the charters. Just provide all of the information.

  7. here are plenty of complicated particulars and real questions about how the well the model can travel.”

    So where is the data on that wormy, craven statement.

    Is this what your learn in public policy school? To qualify, worm around, and make claims backed up by stipulations and caveats.

    You guys are corrupt. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    I am ready to accept the superiority of the charters. I wish they would put down the meat axe and shield and behave like adults. If they ARE superior, then PUT AWAY THE APPLICATION PROCESS, FLING OPEN THE DOORS, and LET ANYONE WALK IN.

  8. To the charters;

    Set my people free!

    Put away the application process, fling open the doors, and LET ANYONE WALK IN.


  9. Where are the NOLA teachers?

    What are their profiles?

    I am not anti-charters. I will reserve judgement until they really give me a good feeling about their motivations, their real practices, and their real ethos.

    So far, all I have gotten is a really mean, rough sales pitch.

    Good God, if a car salesman had done that I would have decked him.

    The charters need to soften up and adopt a less strident pose. Even with their successes, they are losing the PR battle.

    Folks associate them with big business, and BB has NOT BEEN GOOD TO WORKERS since 2007.

  10. Is it true that the student population is now smaller post Katrina.

    Is it true that violence in NO is horrible when compare to pre_Katrina?

    Are there more students NOT in school post Katrina?

    I have heard these claims all over the web.

    Somebody familiar with NOLA give me the gouge.

  11. What is missing?

    Honesty. I have yet to hear a wonder say, “I do not know”.

    I will say it right here, “I do not know if your claims about NOLA are COMPLETE.”

    Put away the meat axes. Richard Feynman said it a lot. He was honest. Of course, physics forces that upon you.

    If we are to believe Phil Daro, the architect of CC math, about the superiority of his approach to math, then…

    We have a whole lot of folks to fire Here is a list:

    1. Feynamn, posthumously
    2. Salk, posthumously
    3. Fermi, posthumously
    4. Heisenberg, “”
    5. Curie””
    6. The guy who proved Fermat’s theorem “”
    7. The inventors of Nano technology “”
    8.. Pretty much everyone in the UC system, and Princeton.

    You guys have a lot of work to do.

    What I am driving at is this:

    The traditional approach yielded the GREATEST discoveries in the history of mankind.

    Why must it be thrown away by the like of NON-MATHEMATICIAN PHIL DARO/

    Please explain this….

  12. Honest response from physicists:

    We do not know that, or really cannot make that assertion…

    The typical response from edu-reformers and public policy folks…

    “We know it for certain, even though our measurements are probabilistic.”

    “The data is conclusive after a tad bit of TEASING…..”

    “The results of this study are damning of our detractors….”

    “Of, you disagree. Tsk, tsp…Look at the data you nimrod.”

    The edu-reform movement knows they overplayed they hand in NOLA with their aggressive claims and now they are backing off and taking a softer approach. They think they have a cushion of social capital success to rely on.

    But people are beginning to ask questions, and the scrutiny is intensifying. I see NO END TO THE WARS.

    There IS only one way out: Universal vouchers and an OPT IN provision for CC.

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