Tuesday, March 31, 2015

empathyeducates – New Orleans Corporate Education Reform 101

empathyeducates – New Orleans Corporate Education Reform 101:

New Orleans Corporate Education Reform 101

What they won’t tell you about the education reforms in New Orleans?

By Raynard Sanders, Ed.D. | Originally Published at EmpathyEducates. March 30, 2015

The corporate education reforms in New Orleans have been touted has the national guide for turning around urban school districts. As a result of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and more than willing elected officials, New Orleans quickly became the national poster child for privatizing public education. In that most of these changes happened within months after Katrina there was little or no local resistance in that more than 80% of the population was evacuated from the city. In light of that, the corporate education reforms in New Orleans has been in the raw so to be speak as charter school proponents were able to created a perfect environment for turning public schools into profit centers. This unique situation attracted billions of dollars from the Louisiana Legislature, the federal government, and foundations promoting the privatization of public education. Thanks to a supportive national media the narrative of the corporate education reforms in New Orleans immediately hit print media, television and Internet claiming unprecedented academic success predicated on school choice. Of course these media outlets were repeating the story told by state education officials and charter schools proponents labeling the reforms in New Orleans as a “miracle”. With that cities and states across the country are now looking at the reforms in New Orleans as guides to improve their failing public schools.
However the real story of chronic academic failure, fiscal mismanagement, and inequitable practices, as reported by external researchers, universities and journalists, has gotten limited coverage in the mainstream media.
The drastic changes in the public education landscape post Hurricane Katrina, despite its dismal failure, offers invaluable lessons for cities across the country. These lessons are not only important for cities and communities considering implementing the New Orleans failed corporate reform model but also it proved that the business model approach to improving public education as touted for years by noted public school privateer Milton Friedman and other doesn’t work. For the past nine years New Orleans had all the conditions that Freidman and others said was needed to improve public education; schools managed by private boards with no interference from an elected school board, no teacher union contract, young smart and intelligent teachers (as all the teachers in New Orleans were fired after Hurricane Katrina) and school choice where parents could chose a school which is best fits their child needs and not be forced to go to those failing neighborhood school. Additionally in New Orleans charter operators received unprecedented funding, which for several years has been more than three times the funding of other school districts in Louisiana post Hurricane Katrina.
Corporate school reform is spreading across the country like wild fire. It comes to communities like a sheep in wolf’s clothing, before communities realize it corporate education reformers have taken over their public schools; plummeting test scores while resurrected equity and access issues affecting mostly poor and minority students. Below are a few of the major problems with the corporate reforms that proponents will never say as they travel across the country promoting the unsuccessful schools they have created:

School ratings, which determined a school’s passing or failing status is a moving, target.

In Louisiana the definition of a failing school changes at least once every two years post Hurricane Katrina. Thus creating an environment where schools suddenly become failing schools, opening the door for a charter operator to move in a take over the school.
The take over the school in New Orleans was initiated when the Louisiana Legislature passed legislation which raised the standards for determining a failing school and removed other qualifying conditions, however this legislation was crafted only for public schools in New Orleans. This legislation immediately affected most of the schools in New Orleans; in they were suddenly being judged by new standards. With that dozens of schools that were cited for progress and given accolades for academic achievement in May of 2005 suddenly became failing schools in November 2005. Meanwhile state officials and charter proponents told that nation that all the schools were failing. In passing this discriminatory legislation the state took over 107 of 123 empathyeducates – New Orleans Corporate Education Reform 101: