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.
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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