Why Liberals Should Think Twice about “Learning to Love Charters” Thursday, Sep 3 2015 


take a look at our report on Louisiana’s Broken Charter School Law http://populardemocracy.org/news/system-failure-louisianas-broken-charter-school-law Nothing to love here.

Originally posted on deutsch29:

On September 01, 2015, Jonathan Alter of the Daily Beast published a piece entitled, “Why Liberals Should Learn to Love Charter Schools.” His article is apparently directed toward “liberals who should know better” than to be involved in the “disheartening backlash” against charter schools.

Among his “disheartened” arguments is that those chided,  anti-charter liberals “swallowed cherry-picked statistics from former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch and her acolytes.”

Well, let’s just break out the cherry-picker and bring along one mammoth basket: One major issue that Alter ignores and that is prominent among Ravitch’s posts is the abundant stream of instances of charter school mismanagement and scandal.

In fact, Ravitch posted twice today about charter scandal and collapse in Ohio.

Here’s an excerpt on charter scandal in Ohio

During John Kasich’s governorship, charter schools have been the beneficiaries of political favoritism. The charter operators who give large sums to Republican candidates…

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Dude, Really?: Education policy kudos and criticism (in the same week) Tuesday, Sep 1 2015 


Thank you for your work. We need more researchers looking at ALL of the data on the “reform,” which is the Recovery School District (RSD). New Orleans has long been known as one of the worst if not the worst district in our state. 10 years ago the state took all of those “bad” schools and promised to do a better job. They never re-opened many of the schools, so automatically by virtue of doing nothing but keeping some schools closed, the RSD can take credit for having fewer failing schools. The state then closed 26 RSD New Orlens schools displacing nearly 5000 students in a 6 years time period. That will certainly get you fewer failing schools. THAT’S PROGRESS! The LDOE even closed 7 of the new charters schools it opened post-Katrina, displacing 1700 of those 5000 students. That is certainly a way to make your charter school performance look better than it actually is. The one thing the state couldn’t do with closing schools, is hide the actual student achievement from NAEP test scores. Clearly with all of the moving children around, the impact on students has not been transformative enough in the worst school district in the state to push Louisiana out of the cellar of NAEP scores.

As a native New Orleanian, a public school graduate and the mother of public school graduates over the last 23 years, I am sick of the data wars. I got involved with public education because I wanted to keep my own son from becoming a high school drop out and criminal like one of my brothers. My other 3 brothers spent their entire school careers in special educaiton. I soon realized that my son and my brother were like many young Black males in New Orleans. They were falling through the cracks. I really wanted the RSD reforms to be successful because it would mean fewer people like my brother who became a criminal in my city. That’s all I have every wanted, better outcomes for children like mine and like my brothers. It saddens me that after 10 years, the RSD has not done a good enough job of improving the outcomes for our sons. In fact, a recent report tells us that we have 26,000 youth between the ages of 16-24 who are not in school or employed. Worse yet, in my work as an advocate for parents of students with disabilities, I continue to come across families with children who fall through the cracks of this broken “Recovery School District.” Over the past week I’ve been criticized for not acknowledging the “progress” of the RSD. Forgive me, but I can’t see the progress because I keep hearing from parents like the one I met today whose child has been educated only in the reform and is 14 years old entering 7th grade. It doesn’t look good for this child moving out of 7th grade by the end of this school year. This is the only school this child has attended since 1st grade. Over that time period the school “improved” from an F school to a C school. Yet, this school failed to provide this child with the support he needed. Is this mother supposed to be happy with the the chorus of accolades heaped upon the RSD for the “progress.” they’ve made in 10 years?

I want to see more focus on how the reforms in New Orleans are impacting our most challenged children. I want every child counted in the data wars and getting better outcomes in my city. I want parents of students with disabilities benefiting from whatever “innovative” strategies that are being used to improve the lives of our children. I want people to stop playing games with the data and give it freely to researchers so we can find out whats happening based on the tests our children are forced to take. Most of all, I want to see more young men like my brothers educated well enough to be employed and not incarcerated in my city. When we look at outcomes for African American males in New Orleans, the picture is not pretty. Let’s end the data wars and be honest about how to help the children who have fallen through the cracks in the last 10 years.

Originally posted on Cloaking Inequity:

At my core, the reason why I chose educational policy as a profession is because I care about children.

Today I’d like to take up some of the critics of the policy brief that I included in the post Flood of Lies: Education reform crescendo at #Katrina10 Then I would like to humbly share some very cool kudos that happened this week. Be warned, this post has a certain randomness to it, kind of like my favorite blog MGoBlog.

First let me start with some background. I have never lived in New Orleans, however, I did live in Houston— which is about a five hour drive from NOLA at the speed that I drive. So I have been to New Orleans about ten times in my life. Half of the trips to New Orleans were related to schools and communities.

Recently I spent almost a week in New Orleans meeting…

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New Orleans: What Happened to the Children Who Were Left Behind by the “Reforms”? Saturday, Aug 29 2015 


We will not sit quietly and let distortions of data lead the perception of what happened with public education in the last 10 years as a road to success. The idea that we are on a continuum and we just need to stay the course is insane. Continue excluding the most challenging children? I don’t think so. There are real costs to “disruptive innovation” in public education. Those costs are borne out in the lives of the people. Thankfully there are a few principled journalists who are telling a more full story of the children left behind. It is my hope that at the Katrina 20 year mark, we will see that there has been a course correction with these wrong headed “reforms” and the focus will be on how we have helped rebuild community in New Orleans. Our children and our communities can’t take another 10 years of disconnectedness caused by the takeover of public education in New Orleans. There is something particularly insidious about using flawed data to promote the RSD type reforms as something for other cities to replicate. How do you promote replicating something that you now admit is only “improvement” and needs much more work? We must shift this narrative of “improvement” to evidence of these changes in public education leading to real differences in uplifting children inside of their communities. The very idea that we have to transport children outside of their communities to take a chance of maybe getting a school that will survive long enough to improve their academic performance is not in the best interest of children or our city as a whole.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

This is a fascinating article about the New Orleans Recovery School District, that appeared in the International Business Times.

Which children were left behind? Who benefitted by the expansion of choice to cover the entire district? It describes the special education students who were pushed from school to school. The students who were suspended again and again for minor infractions. The high school graduation rate, still far behind the state rate.

Broader measures show a rejuvenated school system. ACT scores in the state-run district increased from 14.5 in 2007 to 16.4 in 2014, and far fewer students in the majority-black district attend schools deemed failing. The proportion of Orleans Parish high school graduates enrolling in college has grown more than 20 percent since 2004.[ed. note: a score of 16.4 is very low, too low for admission to four-year colleges.]

But parents of children like Jeremiah feel left out. Critics worry…

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Andrea Gabor Responds to Critics of Her Article About the Myth of the New Orleans “Miracle” Tuesday, Aug 25 2015 


Thank you Andrea Gabor for your courage and for enduring the horrible attacks. You told the truth of what many of our children are dealing with and I appreciate it.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Andrea Gabor published an op-Ed article in the New York Times about “the myth” of the Néw Orleans reforms. Critics immediately attacked her research, her facts, her integrity. (See here and here.)

Gabor is the Michael R. Bloomberg Professor of Business Jounalism at Baruch College in the City University of New York. She has written several books and many articles.

She responds to the critics here.

Andrea Gabor writes:

“Here is a preliminary response to some who have attacked the research behind my NYT OpEd. First a little background: I’ve spent months in New Orleans over the past several years researching New Orleans charter schools and published a lengthy piece in Newsweek in 2013. (I’m also working on a book.) However, much of the impetus for this piece came from what I heard and saw at a conference, The Urban Education Future?, held by the Educational Research Alliance at…

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Charter Schools: The original vision and the morphed reality Thursday, Aug 20 2015 


When I was in New Zealand in 2012 and 2013 I often asked people why would New Zealand need charter schools? New Zealand already had a system that included community voices in their local schools. I was able to see a few different kinds of schools, everything from single sex schools, non-traditional schools and Maori schools. There was no need for the charter school model in New Zealand. Oddly enough, I found myself debating one of the founders of KIPP charter schools. Going with the KIPP model of charter schools would be a step backwards for New Zealand.

Originally posted on Save Our Schools NZ:

As you might imagine, I am often asked why I’m against charter schools. Such questions are posed in ways that range from the genial to the downright combative, yet it always pays to listen and draw out what people feel they are supporting.

More often than not, what people are sold on is the promise of charter schools. I don’t blame them – I am sold on the promise, too.  But, as I point out, it’s wise to learn from what history and experience has taught us and, no matter how beautiful it is, we must meet the dream with facts.

The original vision for charter schools, as laid out by Albert Shanker, was for places where innovation would be encouraged in staff and students, where teachers would have a huge say in how the school was set up, what was taught and how, and where students from all manner of backgrounds would be educated alongside each…

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How Whiteness tells the Story of Katrina 10 Years Later Tuesday, Aug 18 2015 


The underlying narrative in the whole Katrina #edreform turnaround is that it took White people to come save the poor little Black children. It’s very offensive and wrong.

Originally posted on Decolonizing educational research:

Malcolm Gladwell’s essay on New Orleans ten years after Hurricane Katrina is but one of the many narratives that center whiteness as the protagonist of the city during and after Katrina. The purchase this essay has by virtue of its publication in a nationally renowned news, politics and culture magazine holds lessons not just about how whiteness craves and tells the story of black vulnerability but the fertile reception there is still for this mythic rendition. Whiteness is a default for white people as the referent for intelligence, beauty and objective truth. It operates by naming these explicitly. But it also works, arguably far more impactfully, by implicitly communicating white ideals not as specific but simply the norm, barely uttering it. Gladwell’s essay, “Starting Over,” is an abject lesson in this overt naming and whispering.

Gladwell begins his essay through the perspective of a phenotypically white sociologist, an outsider to…

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How is the Grand Experiment in New Orleans Working? Saturday, Aug 8 2015 


There will be many stories about New Orleans coming soon as we approach the 10 year anniversary of Katrina. It’s an anniversary, but hardly anything to celebrate. We should not celebrate the perceived improvement in our school system since it was taken over by the RSD. I encourage people to look very hard at the Recovery School District since it was the reform. Ask them about each and ever child who has been educated in the RSD over the last 10 years. The state has the ability to track student ID information and they know if those specific students are doing better or not. Yet, they tend to come up with wild ways of talking about gains and improvement. Researchers are talking about their data twins, but no the very students in the reforms. It should make you all wonder why is it that the proponents of the takeover in New Orleans talk more about schools (buildings) than children. “Fewer failing schools” they say, but what happened to the students who lower performance caused them to fail and drop out. I guess as according to Dr. Charles Hatfield’s report, large numbers of them have “left the state or country.” Stay tuned, lots more to come from New Orleans.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

We have often heard that Mark Twain said that there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” I checked with Wikipedia, and it turns out that this phrase has many fathers. For example, says Wikipedia:

Mark Twain popularized the saying in Chapters from My Autobiography, published in the North American Review in 1906. “Figures often beguile me,” he wrote, “particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'”

But there are other claimants to the phrase, as the article notes, including one who ranked false statements as “a fib, a lie, and statistics.” A variation on this phrase is: “simple liars, damned liars, and experts.”

And then we come to the “New Orleans Miracle.” According to recent research, test scores have improved dramatically since…

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A Challenge for Campbell Brown’s 74: Investigate This Fresh, NOLA Charter School Fraud Wednesday, Jul 15 2015 

Originally posted on deutsch29:

Privileged Louisiana native and notably-telegenic former CNN anchor Campbell Brown has started a new venture, which she calls The Seventy Four (for the 74 million children in the US under 18 years old). She has decided that she will produce news stories in order to advocate for these 74 million children.

74campbell brown 5Campbell Brown

Before Brown started this 74 venture, she was already “advocating,” but she already had some obvious holes in her indignation: She ignores scandals staring her in the face and which involve her politically-connected compadres. For example, Brown is a close associate of Michelle Rhee, who has yet to be fully investigated for the DC cheating scandal that occurred on her watch as DC chancellor, and Rhee’s husband, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, has sexual and financial scandals of his own associated with his own charter school.

I wrote about Brown’s selective indignation in this January 2015 blog post

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


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 


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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