Now-closed Lagniappe Academy: A Case Study in Louisiana Charter “Oversight Underinvestment” Wednesday, May 13 2015 

edutalknola:

For those looking to copy the Recovery School District in Louisiana, this is one blog post you should read. Wisconsin, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas, you’ve been warned. Do you really want to do this to your children and waste your tax dollars?

Originally posted on deutsch29:

This post features the story of a now-closed New Orleans Recovery School District (RSD) charter school, Lagniappe Academy.

It is an excerpt from a report entitled, System Failure: Louisiana’s Broken Charter School Law,  produced by the Center for Popular Democracy and the Coalition for Community Schools. The report calls for adequate investment in the oversight of Louisiana’s charter schools.

The report is also a call to support a stable learning environment for Louisiana students enrolled in charter schools.

The May 9, 2015, closure of Lagniappe Academy could have been avoided had the state instituted years ago a sound system of auditing schools, complete with the goal of only closing a school as a last resort.

Instead, the state conducted sloppy audits, relied upon whistle blowers to bring fraudulent activity to light, and ignored any sound and stable solution that might have kept the school open and preserved stability in…

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A Case Study of How Charter Schools in New Orleans Are Putting Children at Risk Beyond the Classroom Wednesday, Apr 15 2015 

edutalknola:

A very good blog post on the truancy issue in New Orleans.

Originally posted on Brice A. Miller, Ph.D.:

I remember one time when I was in the 8th grade my friend Derrick and I decided to leave school and go walk around the Lake Forrest Plaza shopping center. I’m not sure where I got the idea from, but I admit, I was the ringleader. The plan was to walk down two blocks from our school, Andrew J. Bell Junior High, catch the Galvez (bus) to the St. Bernard (bus) to the Express 95 (bus) to the Plaza. It sounded fun, but in actuality was dumb and poorly executed. Firstly, there were a lot of buses we had to catch. Secondly, the Plaza was way out in New Orleans East where I lived and Bell was downtown in the 6th Ward.

Thinking nobody would notice us was ill-conceived, although it seemed perfectly planned at the time. Secondly, we never planned for truancy. During that time, both the New Orleans…

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Refuting the Myth of the New Orleans School Miracle: Children Lost after Hurricane Katrina Wednesday, Apr 8 2015 

edutalknola:

“Today Reckdahl reports a bigger than usual cohort of young adults seeking the GED, students, she surmises, who dropped out during the post-Katrina chaos. She also describes a number of community organizations that have sprung up to offer support and stability to young adults still trying to get their lives together.” I always think about just who is not in the statistics when I see those reports of miracle improvement in New Orleans. I know several families that have moved away after fighting to come back to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. those families moved away due to their struggle to navigate the newly reformed public school landscape.

Originally posted on janresseger:

Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans almost ten years ago, as school was just beginning in the fall of 2005. Ever since, we have been trying to piece together the meaning of what happened to New Orleans’ children and to what was once the New Orleans Parish Schools—a school district that was abruptly dismantled in the late fall right after the hurricane and after a new law passed in Baton Rouge permitted the state to take over most of New Orleans’ schools.  A mass experiment in charterization was undertaken, launched with money from Margaret Spellings in the U.S. Department of Education with added help from philanthropists such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. All the teachers and school employees were laid off and later their positions eliminated.  Today virtually all of New Orleans’ schools have become privately managed charter schools in what became the Louisiana Recovery School District.

The dominant…

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John White Says More Public High School Grads Went to College–But Not to State Schools! (Part 1 of I Think 2) Monday, Apr 6 2015 

edutalknola:

My question is why hasn’t the Recovery School District been able to produce more students scoring high enough to enter 4 year colleges in universities in our state? Why after 9 years in Post Katrina New Orleans where the RSD has not had a teacher’s union or school board to contend with, where they have had extra tax dollars and philanthropic dollars, has the RSD failed to produce better results? The supporters of privatization keep comparing the RSD results to pre Katrina. That is an apples to oranges comparison considering they are comparing neighborhood schools to a forced parent choice system and many of the variables in tests and test scoring have changed. Even the grading scale for how we rate schools has changed as well as about twenty thousand of our poorest children did not return to the city, it’s impossible to make comparisons. So, let’s compare the RSD to itself over time? In doing that, the RSD has not been a successful entity. After taking in 107 schools scoring below the state average in 2005, at the end of 2014 only 4 RSD New Orleans schools are above the state average. John White can spin these graduation numbers however he wishes, but the bottom line is that he is the captain of a sinking ship when it comes to the RSD.

Originally posted on LA Higher Ed Confessions:

While everyone was having fun with my last post (which I will admit was a bit of April Fool’s fun on my part, and the attention was a little embarrassing considering the uber-serious tone of most of my writing), a few people were also finding my post, John White’s Spinning Wheel of ACT Scores: More Students Are Qualified to Go to College Except When They Actually Try to Go, where I expose how many of our high school graduates are no longer qualified to attend our state’s universities as a result of the GRAD Act-linked four-year admission criteria which were (almost) fully implemented last year.

Well, maybe it was coincidence, or maybe Mr. White and Friends found my blog, but don’tcha know, yesterday we got treated to this piece of good news from the data spinners mavens at the Louisiana Department of Education aka Louisiana Believes (What We Tell…

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John McDonogh Flunkie “Manager” Steve Barr Is Doing Just Fine in Los Angeles Monday, Apr 6 2015 

edutalknola:

If anyone thinks #nolaed should be followed as some kind of #education reform, think again. What happened at John Mc is the poster child of what’s wrong with the education reforms in New Orleans.

Originally posted on deutsch29:

The Los Angeles (LA) Times has a column entitled, “Chat and Selfie.” On April 4, 2015, the column featured “education rabble rouser Steve Barr.”

The column featured Barr taking a “selfie” “in front of his Silver Lake (Los Angeles) home.” In California, of course, because that is where he lives.

steve barr selfie

Steve Barr’s Los Angeles “Selfie”

Barr is in Los Angeles– not New Orleans, where he decided in 2012 to long-distance “manage” the over-100-year-old John McDonogh High School– and decided in 2014 to long-distance ditch the project after two years of doing nothing.

McDonogh was supposed to be renovated. Nothing happened. (Photos below from Crazy Crawfish’s October 2013 posting on McDonogh.)

john mcdonogh

john mcdonogh2

john mcdonogh3

john mcdonogh4

Rat feces/termites?/rotting wood

john mcdonogh5

Asbestos

Asbestos, rat feces, rotting wood, and in October 2011, we have then-Recovery School District (RSD) superintendent John White basically telling McDonogh parents, students, and staff that renovation was contingent upon test scores rising. In the…

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Study: New Orleans Principals Admit to Manipulating Student Selection Monday, Mar 30 2015 

edutalknola:

We have been telling all who would listen that there are problems with how school select students. Competition has made those students who need the highest quality education, a liability to schools. This insanity shows why every school in this city should have to enroll students from the neighborhood without being able to select them. If there are seats open after enrolling students living within 1 mile of the school, then open those seats up to the OneApp. Right now only 2 schools give preference to enrollment of neighborhood students, and those 2 schools are in mostly White neighborhoods. Some think that having all schools in the OneApp fixes the problem of some schools screening out some kids. Actually, OneApp does not help the situation when parents are discouraged from placing certain schools on their OneApp. The only thing that fixes this is forcing every school to take students living near the school and opening extra seats up to this game of chance called OneApp.

Originally posted on deutsch29:

I have written several posts to date on the Educational Research Alliance of New Orleans (ERA) and its founder, Doug Harris.

ERA is conducting a number of studies on the privatization of most of New Orleans’ schools following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and which has culminated in a 100-percent-charter Recovery School District (RSD) in New Orleans by 2014.

In 2014-15, the remaining Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) consists of six direct-run schools and 14 charter schools, with with four of the 14 charters being “selective admission” schools— which means these school are (by definition) not open to the public.

Thus, the term “school choice” could well mean that it is the school that exercises greater leverage when it comes to choosing, not the parents.

ERA is studying this “choice”– with results that sometimes are not pretty for the “choice” advocates.

On January 15, 2015, Harris released his first report…

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Don’t Close Schools, Fix Schools! Wednesday, Mar 18 2015 

Children should not be punished because adults violated the law.

Children should not be punished because adults violated the law.

For many years parents and special education advocates have alerted the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) of special education violations in the charter system in New Orleans. Years before the creation of the Recovery School District (RSD), I did the same with the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB). In my experience as an advocate, the problems we saw with OPSB schools and special education, pale in comparison to what we see now with this new landscape of public education in New Orleans. Worse yet, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and the LDOE believes that an adequate solution to the special education violations at Lagniappe Academies, is to close the school. These same entities did not exact that punishment on other schools in New Orleans that also violated special education laws. The Southern Poverty Law Center detailed numerous violations over a period of several years in multiple schools, in their federal complaint and subsequent federal lawsuit. Yet, not one school in New Orleans over the last 4 years was closed due to special education violations. Nor is closing schools an element in the Consent Decree to correct those violations. When I think back to my own children’s schools, even on my maddest day at McMain High School, when the principal refused to provide an accommodation that my son needed, I never saw closing the school as the solution to that violation. It is illogical to me to close a school to fix a special education violation.   I do not support closing schools, as a form of accountability, not even the closure of charter schools. There are better solutions that punish the violators, and do not destabilize the education of children. I support corrective action plans to correct the problems so that children can get special education services they need. I support revoking charter contracts and returning schools to the elected school board as an option that shows that the department of education is tough on special education violations. It should be the decision of the elected school board whether or not to seek a new charter operator or run the school as a direct operated school. The department of education has had it’s chance at operating public education as a business, and when charter schools fail to uphold the law, it’s time for their participation in the experiment to end in a responsible way that protects children.   When the state department of education failed to provide adequate monitoring and oversight of Lagniappe Academy and other charter schools in New Orleans for years, it set the stage for the alleged egregious violations at Lagniappe Academies. The  (LDOE) Louisiana Department of Education does not have the staff or the funding to look deeply into every charter school to uncover special education violations that are not exposed by parent complaints or whistleblowers, but it should if it wants to continue to recommend charter schools as a solution to our troubled public education system. Clearly such a wide open, market based system of independent, privately managed charter schools with expanded autonomy, deserves a robust system of monitoring and oversight. The Louisiana Legislature, The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Louisiana Department of Education share equally in the blame with the Lagniappe Academies Charter Board and administration for the violations discovered after being tipped off by 2 former Lagniappe Academies employees. In a system built on the idea of choice, there is a responsibility to protect the choice parents have made, not punish them for being in a city where over 90% of the schools are charter schools.   There is something fundamentally flawed with an education reform strategy that closes schools rather than fixing them.  Never has this been made more clear than now as parents at Lagniappe Academy prepare to look for new schools for their children because adults failed to create the kind of landscape of public education that values every child. I call on everyone to rethink closing schools as accountability. Contact your elected officials, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the State Department of Education today and encourage a more child centered approach to education reform.

To New Orleans RSD Parents: TOPS Isn’t Happening for Your Children Wednesday, Mar 18 2015 

edutalknola:

Just last night I was told that at one charter school in New Orleans that a 53 is considered a C. If this is true, when adding up quality points for a grade point average, this could mean that these students would meat the GPA standards for a TOPS scholarship. Since TOPS money comes from our tax revenue, wouldn’t that be fraud? Quality points should be standard across the state for purposes of TOPS, right? Even with a rigged GPA, clearly a number of students in New Orleans won’t be earning TOPS because of their low ACT scores. One would think that students who have been in the “reform” school since 5th or 6th grade would score well enough on the ACT to earn TOPS and be able to enter Louisiana’s 4 year university system. It seems to me that ACT data is an indication that perhaps the reforms aren’t all that successful after 11 years of having a Recovery School District in this state.

Originally posted on deutsch29:

On February 9, 2015, New Orleans Recovery School District (RSD) “architect” Leslie Jacobs declared victory for RSD growth” via “recently released” 2014 ACT scores.

Also, on February 9, 2015, I challenged Jacobs’ “enormously improved” portrayal of New Orleans RSD in this post.

Among the issues I challenged were the low rates of RSD graduates eligible for scholarships through the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS), as concerns scholarships to both four-year colleges/universities and two-year, community colleges.

Four-year TOPS requires a minimum GPA of 2.5 in core subjects and an ACT composite score at the state average, which by current TOPS standards is 20.

Two-year TOPS tech requires a minimum GPA of 2.5 in core subjects and a minimum ACT composite of 17.

In my February 9, 2015, post, I noted that three RSD high schools had not even one graduate eligible for even TOPS two-year tech. I…

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Un-Masking the Faces Behind the Post-Katrina “Flim Flam” at John McDonogh Sr. High, Part I Sunday, Mar 15 2015 

edutalknola:

John McDonogh H.S. is the poster child school that depicts how “Reformonsters” took over our schools, w/o care 4 children. #nolaed

Originally posted on whodatresearcher:

Post-Katrina Time Line of John McDonogh Sr. High School

In 2007, students from all over the city join John McDonogh's marching unit, photograph taken by Elizabeth K. Jeffers The year of John McDonogh’s reopening, students from all over the city joined John McDonogh’s marching unit. As a result of intense pressure, John McDonogh was the first RSD direct run high school to have the band instruments and after school insurance for students. — photograph taken by Elizabeth K. Jeffers

Nov.  30, 2005     The State of Louisiana seizes control over 107 New Orleans Public Schools, including John McDonogh Senior High School, in legislation known as Act 35.

Spring and Summer 2006 John McDonogh community members and former faculty members meet across the street from John McDonogh at the Musician’s Union to press for the re-opening of John McDonogh as a public school.

Sept. 2006     John McDonogh re-opens under the RSD.

Oct. – Nov. 2006     DNIA Education Committee, including many of the John McDonogh…

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Louisiana Charter School Audit Reveals Faux-Accountability Saturday, Mar 14 2015 

edutalknola:

Clearly the LDOE isn’t auditing nor monitoring it’s charter schools, otherwise these parents would not be paying the price for their sudden act of caring about special education violations. http://bit.ly/NOLAChoice2

Originally posted on deutsch29:

In October 2012, I sent the following email to Louisiana Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera requesting a performance audit of Louisiana’s charter schools. I did so in response to having read the US Department of Education’s audit of charters in Arizona, California, and Florida:

request for La. charter schools audit

From: Mercedes Schneider <deutsch29@aol.com>

To: dpurpera <dpurpera@lla.la.gov>

Date: Fri, Oct 26, 2012 11:51 p.m.

Attachment: US Dept of Ed Charter Audit

Mr. Purpera, attached is the US inspector general’s audit of US Dept of Ed’s oversight charter schools in California, Florida, and Arizona. As you will note from reading, the US Dept of Ed is seriously lacking in their rigor in their management of both charter school educational quality and fiscal responsibility.The lack of rigor evident in management of California, Florida, and Arizona charter schools is likely problematic in Louisiana, as well. First, there is notable turnover in the charter…

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