The New Orleans school district has just shut down its last five “traditional” public schools and converted the district to 100% charter schools.
And the Educational-Industrial Complex is going to go crazy about it.
With the start of the next school year, the Recovery School District will be the first in the country made up completely of public charter schools, a milestone for New Orleans and a grand experiment in urban education for the nation.
Of course, charters started in Minnesota – and have caught on both in Minnesota and nationwide primarily among “underserved communities” – immigrant, Latino and especially African-American students. 44 of students in the District of Columbia attend charter schools. But in New Orleans – whose city district was among the worst in the nation before Katrina forced an epic reboot – the district embarked on a radical experiment in school choice.
And it’s galling the hell out of the factory schoolmasters.
The creation of the country’s first all-charter school system has improved education for many children in New Orleans, but it also has severed ties to a community institution, the neighborhood school, and amplified concerns about racial equality and loss of parental control.
I’m not sure if it’s because the media have no idea how education really works, or they’re buying into propaganda from the educational-industrial complex – but they always seem to read their chanting points from Big Education handouts.
- Charter schools are in neighborhoods, too.
- Big city public schools, on the other hand, may be in a neighborhood, but they are inevitably controlled by school boards who are beholden not to parents or neighborhoods, but to the special interests that get the board elected. You think a parent’s voice is heard at Saint Paul’s school headquarters, locked away in their concrete fortress on Colborne street?
- Racial equality? Parents choose their kids schools. Black, white, integrated – its’ voluntary!
- Anyone who thinks parents have even the most trivial input, much less control, over big city school systems is too stupid and pathetic to even politely ignore.
More chanting points?
Critics of the all-charter New Orleans model say it is undemocratic, because leaders of charter schools are not accountable to voters.
Another statement that can only come from the ignorant, the deluded, or the cynical. Parents at a charter school are 1-2 votes among dozens or hundreds; in the factory system, they’re among tens of thousands or more.
“They don’t answer to anyone,” said Sean Johnson, the dean of students at [one of the ex-public schools], whose father attended the school while growing up in the Black Pearl neighborhood. “The charters have money and want to make more money. They have their own boards, make their own rules, accept who they want and put out who they want to put out.”
And Johnson is lying. Charters follow the same rules as public schools, and get the same money.
As New Orleans continues to succeed, look for charter opponents – like the DFL – to get more and more desperate.