Charter Schools “Experiment” Still at Odds with Law and Democracy

Ideas and Issues Rebuild New Orleans

 New Orleans   To the degree that many so-called educational “reformers” like to tout New Orleans and the post-Katrina usurpation of much of the school system through federal money bribes and legislative do-overs as a model, it is worth seeing how the tendency to no accountability and educational autocracy continues unabated.

The original executive orders that seized New Orleans schools from the elected school board mandated a 5-year period to move the schools to the State run Recovery School District and then move them back to the Orleans Parish School Board.  Now the five year period has hit the first 8 schools and to no one’s surprise nothing is happening because the usurpers who claim reform but resist accountability have created no system that reintegrates the schools back to the School Board.  To no one’s surprise the folks managing the charters want to drag their feet as long as possible as well, so were not exactly beating down the door to become accountable again.

The Times-Picayune story by Andrew Vanacore ended up on the front page even though the story was largely an editorial with a headline drawn from Vanacore’s unsupported opinion.  He wrote early in the piece:

            For now, city and state officials do not even seem to agree on who is responsible for clearing up how the transition is supposed to work.  To be sure, plenty of administrators at the autonomous charter schools that have come to dominate under state authority simply do not think the local school board as it exists should govern anything.  They worry about losing the flexibility they have in decision-making and remember keenly the corruption scandals that still mar the board’s image, though few will say so publicly for fear of alienating board members.

The jump headline was “Eligible schools decline return to local board.”  No one is quoted along these lines in the story on the school level or from RSD or anyone else.  There is not even the old “unnamed sources” line indentifying some quote.   The headline stands solely on Vanacore’s personal opinion and allegations.

The story is clear even from the most ardent anti-school board voice, Leslie Jacobs, where even Vanacore has to concede her totally anti-democratic proposal got “no traction” (though once again largely his unsourced opinion), that the schools eventually and “inevitably” will return to local control of the Orleans Parish School Board.  In fact the entire story is one of incompetence and who is one first and what is on second with the new head of the State Education Department and until recently the head of the RSD, John White, acknowledging that they need to come up with a plan and make it happen.