Thursday, September 10, 2009

Failure in New Orleans Recovery School District?

Tucked away in this Times-Picayune editorial is a startling admission that the highly touted State Recovery District isn't performing up to snuff.

The statement comes as part of an an endorsement for charter school proposals: "It's particularly encouraging that two groups are applying to take over traditional Recovery School District campuses with low test scores and turn them around."

Roll that thought around in your head for a minute: RSD campuses with low test scores must be turned around. Wasn't the Recovery District supposed to be the agent of change that would bring "failing schools" up to an acceptable standard? And by the way, RSD schools are funded at a much higher per-pupil rate than other public schools - so why are they failing?

Where is the outrage on the TP's editorial page that, four years after Katrina, the RSD schools still have low scores and must be turned around?

And why is the city's paper of record only touting charter schools as the right fix for the RSD's failure? New Orleans has a public school board that has been completely revamped and scandal-free since the storm, and has proven its bona fides.

Even before Hurricane Katrina - and this is the little secret that reformers conveniently ignore - New Orleans schools had improved by 10.5 points over a four-year period. In the four years since the storm, RSD schools have improved by 9.5 points.

So why not let the school board take back the failing RSD schools? Unless you really have a bias in favor of charter schools, there's no reason not to go with the Orleans Parish school Board.

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