Opinion: New Orleans is model of oversight, accountability, and cooperation

Peter Cook is a former teacher and administrator who worked in New Orleans public schools both before and after Hurricane Katrina. He now works as a consultant helping districts transform their organizations to better serve the needs of low-income students. You can find him on Twitter: @petercook.

He wrote this piece in response to an essay last week on the blog by Tulane professor J. Celeste Lay

By Peter Cook

Unfortunately, but perhaps inevitably, supporters and critics of the Governor Deal’s plan to create an “Opportunity School District” have looked to the Recovery School District in New Orleans to bolster their arguments.

The most recent critic to drag the RSD through the mud is J. Celeste Lay, an associate professor of political science at Tulane University, who has never worked in a New Orleans public school.

Her column on the AJC Get Schooled blog reflects that fact and so distorted the situation in New Orleans that the record needs to be set straight.

The House Ed Committee allowed ex members to vote on a critical measure this week. Jason Getz / AJC

The Legislature has approved putting an amendment before voters next year creating a state takeover school district. Jason Getz / AJC

First of all, Lay claimed that New Orleans’ decentralized charter network of charter schools is a “free market system” where competition will lead to higher academic achievement.

Fortunately, that’s not how our school system works.

As Michael Stone, co-CEO of New Schools for New Orleans recently noted in an interview, “I don’t think I know a single person working in public education in New Orleans who would say that competition for students will drive quality.”

On the contrary, it’s not market mechanisms, but strong oversight, accountability, and cooperation that have driven improvement in New Orleans’ public schools.

Lay also attempted to portray New Orleans’ charter schools as a hotbed of nefarious behavior, making vague accusations of nepotism, embezzlement, and ethics breaches. The reality is far different.

Yes, there have been isolated cases of individuals and schools that have bent, and in some cases, broken the law, and they have been held accountable for it. However, the overwhelming majority of schools and educators in New Orleans are in it for the right reason — to expand the life opportunities of students, most of whom come from low-income families.

Lay further stated that New Orleans’ CMOs are profit-seeking businesses that “charge schools 15-20 percent” of their revenue. The claim is so far from the truth as to be embarrassing, since Professor Lay apparently doesn’t realize that the CMOs in New Orleans are all non-profit organizations.

Moreover, while she points out that the principal at her nearby charter school makes over $300,000 per year, she omits that the school in question was never taken over by the RSD. Also left unmentioned is the fact that the school has an exclusive agreement with Tulane to admit the children of professors like herself.

Finally, Lay’s average ACT score data is wrong. The average ACT score in the RSD’s non-alternative high schools last year was 16.5, up from 14.4 in 2004-05. While we admittedly still have a long way to go in ensuring that all students graduate college-ready, Lay of course leaves out the statistics that show we’re on the right track:

Academic performance has risen higher in the Recovery School District than any other district in Louisiana over the past decade

•In 2005, 62% of New Orleans students attended a failing school; today that number has dropped to 7%

•Between 2005 and 2014, the graduation rate in New Orleans went from 54% to 73%, and college enrollment went from 45% to 58%

•African-American and special needs students in New Orleans now outperform their peers across Louisiana; in fact, the graduation rate of special needs students in New Orleans exceeds the statewide average by a solid 11%

Now that Gov. Nathan Deal’s bill to create an “Opportunity School District” has worked its way through the Legislature, Georgians should continue to have a healthy and vigorous debate about the pros and cons of the proposed state takeover district.

To be sure, the RSD’s success in the Big Easy is no guarantee it will work for Georgia. And while I certainly encourage Georgians to look to New Orleans for lessons from our school reforms, just be sure to distinguish honest facts from misinformation.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

96 comments
JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

There should be an education union. Educrap is right! It should be run by the Teamsters! I can see it now, public schools closed in Georgia because of bat toting teachers.  That would be priceless!!!!!!!!!!! Blog Trolls would wet their pants. 

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

Same Trolls. You people should get a real life and stop spouting your BullShot.  Improvement in Nola Schools........sure that's the benchmark. HAHAHHAHHAHAHAHHAHAH and Astronut, Uducrap and Betsy floss are all public school teachers.


Today's, Nola will be tomorrows APS! 

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

As to ballot language, here are some goodies sent to me by  our Republican party. My mom would have had a field day in her high school psych/soc  classes as examples of "loaded words."


9.  Should Republicans  in Congress stand firm against actions  by the Obama White House to bypass Congressional votes and enact near regulations,fees,and other FREEDOM-DESTROYING measures  via unilateral Executive Orders?


14.Do you favor Republican efforts in Congress to better strengthen our borders and fight President Obama's UNCONSTITUTIONAL, UNILATERAL DECREES in writing new immigraction policies?

Astropig
Astropig

@Wascatlady


Will these questions be on any ballot any time soon?  They seem like slam dunk "yes" questions!

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

"The young victims of failing schools now, however, have the odds in their favor."


Unfortunately,  EDUKTR, they don't have the odds favoring them.  The schools  are not failing  them.  Move them to Westminister and kids will STILL have these problems.


Which  you would know,if you were any kind of a true EDUCATOR!

biggysmalls
biggysmalls

As with any attempt to place objective parameters on a subjective subject, everybody can find some metrics that support their point of view.  At the end of the day the only numbers that mean anything in education is the number of state reps and senators that are willing to vote for a particular bill.  Any education bill that passes will do some harm and some good, we just have to hope the good outweighs the bad.  Good and bad are a matter of opinion so all laws will have some haters and some supporters.  I do think that the situation in New Orleans is so unusual that it is difficult to use that in an argument, well maybe if you live in a community that was nearly completely destroyed by a hurricane.

Astropig
Astropig

@biggysmalls


I think that the proponents of this have been realistic. None of them have claimed that it is magic bullet. All have pointed out that improvement is a process, not an event. There have been ups and downs and uneven performances and both sides can point to statistics that bolster their case.But...


The pro people have a positive vision of where these schools can go,if given the oversight and accountability that they now lack.They seem to see something in these kids and these schools that the status quo mossbacks don't. Even Michael Thurmond over in DeKalb county told legislators that he couldn't defend these failing schools and he's no buddy-buddy of the governor.You NEVER hear the naysayers talk about how bad NOLA schools were before the RSD,(which was a factor in bringing it about),because they were SO bad that they are indefensible.They want the same regime of failure to continue in Georgia so they can hide bad teachers,bad administrators and bad policies in a place where the people that suffer from them have little voice.


The people fighting this are being so dishonest and cynical that they don't deserve serious consideration.They didn't get interested in these schools until Governor Deal did and they have still,TO THIS DAY, brought forth no competing plan or vision of how to fix the institutions that are persistently the bottom tier of public education.Their entire strategy is what you see in the comments above and below: They hate Governor Deal. They want these resources under their control. That's it. That's their "plan".


The coalition that stomped a mudhole in the GAE,The AJC and other mossbacks will re-assemble to pass this. May as well accept it.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Astropig @biggysmalls

"You NEVER hear the naysayers talk about how bad NOLA schools were before the RSD,(which was a factor in bringing it about),because they were SO bad that they are indefensible."


Really?  Seems like I have discussed that SEVERAL times in my posts, seeing as I actually TAUGHT in those schools prior to the takeover by RSD.  Sometimes I think posters see what they want to see and disregard the rest.... 


Or are you only referring to those with real power in education, not to us peons who just teach?

Point
Point

@Astropig @biggysmalls  First, I need a definition for mossback, please.


Mr. Thurmond response was edited to s sound bite.  If you read his entire response, his answer is much different than portrayed. 

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Astropig @Quidocetdiscit @biggysmalls


LOL!  You just confirmed by statement, about seeing what you want to see and disregarding the rest.  I have MANY times takes about the hell hole that was pre-Katrina NOLA public schools... and the possible reasons.  Never once have I claimed it was anything but horrific.


Think about this... in NOLA, segregation lead to a two tiered schooling system - the private and/or Catholic schools and the public schools.  NOLA pre Katrina  had a very strong private school system - one of the largest I have seen anywhere I have taught.  As those with power and money fled the public schools for private schooling, the public schools went down hill until there were very few "good" schools left.   


Flash forward about 20 years, and I would bet you we will see the exact same thing here in GA, as folks flee to private and charter schools, and leave those without means or money behind in schools that become oversaturated with high needs populations.  When 15-20% of your school population is high needs, you can often raise those high needs students up...when you start getting over that percentage, it becomes increasingly harder to raise the level of everyone.  When nearly 100% of your population is high needs...?  Well, just picture Sisyphus.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Astropig @biggysmalls Before Katrina, what percentage of students went to private schools (frequently Catholic)? As I recall, it was a very high percent of the best and brightest.  Are they still there?


Astro, I think you have a lot of nerve saying that people against the OSD did not get interested in educating kids at "those schools" until Deal"discovered" them.  Quite a few of us (and I am  pretty sure you can name the ones on this blog) have made 3-4 DECADE careers working with students with the kinds of  problems these kids present.  We sure as *&%$ did not have to have the current Governor "discover" them!


I don't know what a"mossback"  is, either. Did not teach that in my UGA PhD program.

Astropig
Astropig

@Wascatlady @Astropig @biggysmalls


I do have a lot of nerve. I also have a lot of empathy for these kids stuck in these awful schools.


Again, if the mossback fossilized remains of what was at once an adequate school system want to fight this, more power to them. Fight away. But the voters are fed the heck up with excuses and divisiveness. The establishment has had many years to bring their performance up and the clock has struck 12. Get ready for voters to open up a can in 11/16.

Astropig
Astropig

@Point @Astropig @biggysmalls


Well, you may think that Thurmond said something else,but it must have done some good. It's really,really hard to get two thirds of the legislature to agree on the day of the week,much less taking on the education cartel. When AA state reps and former-principal state senators vote for something like this,it's not just smoke and mirrors,but a real earthquake that the eduacracy would be wise to heed.

Astropig
Astropig

@Quidocetdiscit @Astropig @biggysmalls


So it's the people with "power and money" that made NOLA schools so bad that they had to restructure them? I think I see where we're going with this.


I stand up and applaud the people that fled bad schools.(stands up, applauds)They really love their kids. I also applaud the people that created the all charter system that exists there now. They have given parents real power. 


But you're really only giving half the story here. The people that run the charter management companies DON"T just take and take public money. They have to invest money in schools and neighborhoods that the educrats and even some of the parents have given up on.Having bought (and sold) a few houses that were perfectly serviceable,but the owners had given up on,(some in bad neighborhoods) I know that sometimes it takes a fresh approach and a new pair of eyes to see the potential in something.None of this stuff is free. Their investment is aimed at a turnaround or they lose their contracts. Criticizing them for expecting a return on that investment is...Words fail me. It's pretty unrealistic.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Astropig @Wascatlady @biggysmalls It could be argued that it is only by the hard work of the current school staff that the situation is much better than it could be.  There is no control group.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Astropig @Quidocetdiscit @biggysmalls


"So it's the people with "power and money" that made NOLA schools so bad that they had to restructure them? I think I see where we're going with this." 


No, that is not what I said - but I have come to expect you to twist my words around to suit your purposes.  Fortunately, I suspect other readers are able to read and comprehend my actual meaning.


As for the "investing in neighborhoods that the educrats and even some parents have given up on" - I wish this were totally true.  However, the data shows that WHEN Charter companies do the best is when they invest in fairly good neighborhoods.  When they invest in failing schools, they tend to do no better, and often worse then the previous schools.  Thus, many charter companies really have no interest in investing in those neighborhoods because it makes them look bad - sort of like what happens with public schools in poor neighborhoods.


*If* Charters were doing an awesome job, I would be all for them !  I too am seeking solutions for those struggling schools - but for the most part they are doing just about the same or worse overall than traditional schools.  THAT is what the data nationwide shows over and over again!  I do not understand WHY charter enthusiasts keep ignoring that fact!  My concern is we will lose all this money to the charter companies and things will not improve for those schools and will get worse for other schools as the funds bleed out of the system!  


Furthermore, you seem fine with them making a "return on their investment" yet expect public schools to fix all their problems without making some kind or profit off students.  I laugh to think of the outcry that would happen if public school teachers started being able to "pocket" any funds left over at the end of the year from the school budget.  Hmmm.  I suspect before long, teachers would find a way NOT to spend all those funds on the students.  What makes you think fro profit charters do not do exactly that?   After all, charters often make a "return" by overburdening teachers and paying them so little they do not stay long so you have high turnover (which has been shown to be detrimental to student learning), and by NOT investing a lot in materials for student use.  Some charters are housed without cost in public school buildings, (they do not have to pay for upkeep), and do not provide bussing, so that saves money.  Fine, but don't then compare their costs with the costs of schools that have to pay building upkeep and bussing to show how much cheaper charters are! 


You know which charters tend to do the best?  Those started by actual TEACHERS, not investment firms.  So why not put your efforts behind supporting THOSE charters as opposed to ones run by for profit corporations for whom the bottom line is profit, not student education?


I am not against charters per se.  I am against charters being run by big, corporations and CEOs with no background in education,  who are making huge salaries and whose bottom line is their investors and NOT the students.  


You claim I need "fresh eyes" because I do not simply buy into this whole "Charters will save the day" rhetoric.  I am sorry, but the data just does not back that up!  I believe charters CAN help in SOME situations, but there does not seem to be a lot of caution here... there seems to be a push to jump in with both feet and damn any concerns. And there is big money behind all this push for "change".  That should be cause for concern for anyone who  is paying attention here.



Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Wascatlady @Astropig @biggysmalls


I decided to repost this comment I had posted on a previous thread because I feel it is important to counter the whole "We are tired of failing school" rhetoric that gets trotted out over and over.



http://www.nationsreportcard.gov/ltt_2012/summary.aspx


According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, students' scores have actually risen overall since the 1970's when they started tracking - following the Nation at Risk report.


Let's consider some of the data:


1.  First, despite all the "schools are failing" rhetoric, scores have actually gone UP or maintained overall - not fallen.  This is especially true of various minority groups and special needs students.


2. Everyone likes to post about the good old days of the 1970's when schools were so good, but according to the data, our schools are actually BETTER now than they were then, so why are schools under attack?


3.  Scores cannot continue to rise...at some point you reach a plateau - that is just the nature of the beast.  I am not saying we should not try to raise scores, or that there is not room for improvement, but at some point you top out.


4.  With desegregation, there was a rise in the number of private and charter schools.  We now have more options for families with money who want the best they can buy - which means some of our top performers and best supported students have been pulled out of the public system.  Despite this, overall, scores have not fallen.  I think this is a positive thing - yet all we every hear is how badly schools are doing. 


5.  Reformers like to use the scores of children in other nations to denigrate our schools, but often you are comparing apples to oranges.  Very few nations have the racial and SES disparity in their schools that we do.  In many nations, only the top students are educated, or the poor are only educated to age nine or so.  They have a less diverse student population, or parents have children tutored as par for the course. In many nations, the poor or women are not educated at all.  Education is much more values by some nations, and better supported - so one needs to look at international data carefully before trying to make direct comparisons.


6.  Scores generally went up, according to NAEP, until about 2008.  Now, what happened in 2008?  Oh yes, the recession - when school budgets were slashed, class sizes rose, teachers were laid off, and many families suddenly found themselves in dire situation which affected their children' ability to do their best in school.  Is is hard to concentrate on school work when you are not sure where your next meal is coming from...


So, looking at the actual DATA, schools are doing a pretty good job given the problems we are facing as a society - certainly there is still a lot of room from improvement, but my question is WHY is there so much focus on what schools are not doing rather than on what they ARE doing?  Why so much chatter about "failing schools" rather than "Wow, look how well many schools are doing considering some of the obstacles they are facing"?  I wonder what they could do with less attack and more support?


Because there is a lot more going on  here than what is seen on the surface... and too many are buying into it without question.


And please note:  I have NOT said that public schools are doing just fine.  I am well aware that we have some serious problems facing some of our public schools so I ask those who may reply to refrain from claiming I am saying that all public schools are all doing a great job - because that is NOT what this post is about.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Astropig @Wascatlady @biggysmalls


"I do have a lot of nerve. I also have a lot of empathy for these kids stuck in these awful schools."


Nice.  You have "empathy".  


"Empathy" does not teach little Johnny how to read.  "Empathy" does not help him get a job and put food on the table.  Some of us have dedicated our lives to actually WORKING with those kids in schools, getting paid a lot less than we could have made in some other career, because we care that much - but you would just dismiss us and our efforts as being part of the "fossilized remains" of some failed system.

bu2
bu2

@Quidocetdiscit @Wascatlady @Astropig @biggysmalls 


The question is not overall (and I agree overall we are doing better), but the persistent failure in certain schools that the local administration has no answers for.


And I think your earlier comments ignore charters like KIPP that specifically target difficult neighborhoods and do very well.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Astro's response to the ballot spelling out the constitutional change - "I like the wording as is. If voters are too apathetic to really understand what they are voting on,that's on them."


So Astro wants school reform, charter takeover style, to "help the children" because schools have been failing to prepare kids to be responsible adults. Does he really think that those now "failed adults" are sophisticated enough to research scam wording for a ballot measure? Now he says of those adult citizens that need plain language to make a complicated voting choice - If they are too apathetic to ferret out the truth, that's on them. 


Astro - then how can we have failing schools? Under your logic, if the students are too apathetic to to understand the subject matter, that's on them. 

Astropig
Astropig

@AvgGeorgian


It's not an essay question on the ballot-It's a 27 word yes or no query. You simply want to frame the question in a self serving way that would assure the result you desire. Too late for that. It's going to pass, so why are you wasting everybody's time with this hateful, divisive rhetoric? 


May as well calm down and accept the inevitable.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig @AvgGeorgian Astro. I have nothing but love for the community here. I also love clear, logical, persuasive ideas whether I agree with them or not. I do not like trickery. That is what ballot measure language often is. When I look up the word intervene, I can find no definition that means complete takeover. 

Astropig
Astropig

@AvgGeorgian @Astropig


It's a yes or no. If you're so opposed, just vote no. You know that your side is going to lose (and your own personal gravy train will chug out of sight) so see prediction #4 below. 


Have a margarita,relax. It won't change the outcome, but you'll feel better.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Astropig @AvgGeorgian


Astro,


It is incredibly insulting for you to keep implying that anyone who has concerns about this issue is only incredulous because of a wish to preserve a "personal gravy train."  Maybe for YOU everything is about your own personal financial gain, but for others of us, it actually *is* about what is best for children.   Perhaps this take-over movement is the best thing since sliced bread, but frankly nothing that has been presented so far convinces me this is so... Where is the unbiased, long term data?

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig @Quidocetdiscit @AvgGeorgian Astro - Do you assume I am a guy because I seem dumb or smart? 


As for the gravy train, it has long since passed and I couldn't afford a ticket anyway. I sometimes take the time to express my views on current political topics. I don't care for misuse of power or money controlling legislators to the detriment of citizens(from any political party, but the party in power should get the most attention). 


If I see what I perceive as a poorly reasoned argument, or attempt to manipulate the story for personal gain, I may speak up time permitting (I read that writing in this form is good for the brain).


As to the outcome, I worry not about citizens voting on a clearly described change to the constitution. I do worry about unsophisticated folks being bamboozled.

Astropig
Astropig

@Quidocetdiscit @Astropig @AvgGeorgian


If you're so insulted,why did this guy spend most of the day leveling that charge at Mr. Cook?


Projection? Hypocrisy? 


Now you know what it feels like to have your motives questioned and you don't like it very much,do you? 


BTW- A margarita would help your disposition a little bit,also.

dg417s
dg417s

I'm sure Astro likes the wording as it is because the ballot language has little to do with the actual outcome if this passes, therfore, it will likely pass. I will agree with Astro on one thing, however, unfortunately too many of our voters aren't all that well informed, so it is up to thosw who know to inform the masses about how bad this can really be.

Point
Point

I can inform them voters in terms everyone can relate to......this equals a tax increase at the state and local levels...

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Poor Mr. Cook. He certainly seems passionate about education, maybe mostly how he can make a lot of money from it as a consultant. Could this essay be all about publicity? His opinion piece reads like a late night poorly researched homework assignment where he throws out random statements that fail to make a coherent argument. It's almost as if some other person(corporations are people too) told him to write it and he piddled around until it was too late. 


I love his "Yes, there have been isolated cases of individuals and schools that have bent, and in some cases, broken the law, and they have been held accountable for it. However, the overwhelming majority of schools and educators in New Orleans are in it for the right reason". So the standard is-most of us are not crooks and thieves, so the new system is OK. And HIS "right reason" I guess is to make a lot of money - otherwise he would still be teaching? Oh wait, He's a Teach for America guy - they are way too smart to stay in the classroom. They must share their great wisdom with others in return for large sums of state and local taxpayer money.


As for fewer children being in failing schools, He speaks as if the bricks in these schools have some strange IQ draining power. There are no failing schools - there are schools with high concentrations of poorly performing students. NOSD could have simply distributed the children among different schools.


His ACT score increase bragging point compares students from a decade ago. Now think about that - of all the things that might have caused a whole different group of kids to score higher on the test that did a group of kids from 10 years ago, he thinks it it is only state run profitable (for those other than teachers) charter style education that is responsible.


I see this over and over again. It is so transparent

1. Create a crisis - Label schools failing

2. Give pre-written  legislation and $ to politicians to get new laws for education funding.

3. Use the new laws to enrich those at the top with money that used to go to local communities.

4. Use the laws to create private school for the "right" people through vouchers and exclusive charter schools.

4. If you fail and get found out - so what? You made millions.

5. Move on to the next pot of money.

petercook
petercook

@AvgGeorgian @petercook Thanks for the explanation, except for the fact that isn't what happened with the RSD, so the conspiracy you present to account for how academic performance has improved in the RSD is little more than a figment of your imagination.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@petercook @AvgGeorgian So. It didn't happen because you said so. I detected that that was your form of research from your article. Glad to clear that up.

petercook
petercook

@AvgGeorgian  You're right - I thought I could pull the wool over your eyes, but you are too sharp and uncovered our conspiracy to drain the coffers of public education, in spite of the fact that you have absolutely no evidence to support anything you say.


No wait, actually, reading this comment has "a strange IQ draining power." You clearly have no idea or context for what you're talking about ("NOSD could have simply distributed the children among different schools" makes that clear) so you setup some straw men to knock down - i.e., this is all about making money. It's a simplistic and cliched argument. No one who disagrees with you could be motivated by anything but greed. 

petercook
petercook

@AvgGeorgian @petercook Like I said, you have no idea what you're talking about. The RSD doesn't shuffle kids between schools, students are assigned to schools based on parent preferences and then they remain at those schools unless the parents want to move their child somewhere else, so the facts don't support your case. Sorry.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@petercook @AvgGeorgian Moving students is only one method. If you set up a measure to determine schools are failing, you can then takeover the school and teach to the specific points that were included in the failing measure. This could have been mandated instead of the takeover. But then the right people would not get control or money.


Your 2 point ACT increase to 16.5 is in the 23rd percentile of ACT national ranking. So "not failing as bad as we used to"is hardly the takeover/charter school slogan i would choose.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@petercook @AvgGeorgian Your problem is that you take random data points and try to show that there is causation (Our system is better because this year's students scored 2 points higher on the ACT than did a completely different group of kids did 10 years ago) with no research based support. Simply putting ACT test prep in place could cause a 2 point in crease in the same group. With your argument, we know nothing about variables you would have to control for to make this any sort of valid argument for increased performance. 

petercook
petercook

@AvgGeorgian @petercook I don't even know what you're trying to say in the first paragraph, and I'm not sure you do, so I'm not even going to try. 


As for the second, it actually reflects a big difference, because in 2005, 40% of seniors (those deemed not to be on a "college track") didn't even take the ACT - had they, the score would no doubt have been much lower. Now, all seniors need to take the ACT in order to graduate, so the small difference is actually deceiving. 

petercook
petercook

@AvgGeorgian @petercook By your logic, we can never judge whether school performance is improving or declining because the composition of each school changes every year as kids graduate out and others are added. I guess we should just give up then, eh? Just work under the assumption that all schools are doing well and providing their kids with a high-quality education, and taxpayers should take it at face value that their money is well-spent? Good luck convincing everyone else with that argument. 


There is plenty of research to support the contention that schools are performing better now than they were pre-Katrina. I would refer you to this website called "Google," on which you can enter search queries and it provides you with a list of relevant web links. 

Astropig
Astropig

@petercook @AvgGeorgian 

Mr. Cook, thank you for your essay. I enjoyed it. 

One thing I think you may have discerned is that the RSD/Charter subject in New Orleans is no longer debated on a factual basis,but as a matter of liberal theology. It's become a tenet of faith among some educators that the RSD was,is and always be a failure-regardless of the facts on the ground there. They want to project failure on the OSD because it represents a threat to power and control by unaccountable people.

Precisely because of the institutional opposition to reform and improvement,our governor took a courageous stand and went the (highly uncertain) route of a constitutional amendment to overcome this resistance. The heavy lifting was done in the legislature-that battle has been won.Now the task is to convince the general voting public that by approving the OSD, all they have to lose are some bad schools. Some of us will not rest until that is done. 

petercook
petercook

@Astropig Thanks - I appreciate your common sense comments, especially the point you made that this isn't "magic bullet" and that "improvement is a process, not an event." 


I've lived and worked in NOLA and in education for the past 13 years. I worked in the old NOPS system and it was an absolutely broken system that failed to educate tens of thousands of kids every year. I'm not saying that everything we've done since the storm has been perfect, but we shouldn't let perfect be the enemy of good. There is little question among anyone who is honest that schools are not better now than they were 10 years ago. 


Whatever Georgia ends up doing, the worst thing would be to do nothing while schools continue to fail. 

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@petercook @AvgGeorgian Mr. Cook. Your lack of ability to understand research is glaring. It is not your fault that you have not studied research methods, but you should not pose as an expert on causation if you haven't. 


Your google thingy for relevant sites is not scientific research and not a reason to take away educational tax money from local communities and give it to connected people so they can make huge salaries while working for a non-profit. 


The way you measure performance is to track the individual student over time. It takes time and effort but is pretty reliable. You use the tried and true hypothesis, null hypothesis, independent variable dependent variable and control group. Then you check outcomes for statistical significance. We have the ability to track student progress over time to see what works. If you don't want to take the time to do longitudinal studies, then you can use similar cohorts but must then control for many different variables.


That would be seeking a scientific answer to poor performance and remedies for poor performance. What we have now is a dash towards methods that are unscientific  but will put $$$ and power in the hands of a small group of connected people and will take the power to make educational decisions away from the local people who pay the local taxes.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig @petercook @AvgGeorgian There has been no opposition to reform that I know of because there has been no reform plan, just a takeover plan. Where are the teams of people with the educational solution that the Gov. offered to send in to fix the "failing schools". Where is the plan that will be used? Where is the research behind the plan?


Why are the State Commision charter schools failing (16/26 with a CCRPI below 70)? Is the plan for the State Commision charter schools the same one we will have for the OSD? . 


I do think that the OSD will take money and authority from the local community and give it to politically connected people who will be paid very high salaries and not be held financially accountable to the taxpayer. Try to find out the salaries and vendor payments for the State Commision charter schools if you want a glimpse of  possible future financial accountability in the OSD.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@petercook @AvgGeorgian You failed to create a coherent argument. I will splain it to you. Watch carefully. You have 4 schools - 2 are failing and 2 are passing. You move enough of the low performing and high performing kids to different schools and shazaam, you have 4 passing schools. 


Now if you want to say it's because you gave each kid a non-profit lucky charter rabbit's foot, be my guest.