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.

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.

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.

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.

Leigh Patel

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.

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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