Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Is the state seizure of schools justified?

Schools in the state-run Recovery School District are no longer improving any faster than schools in other large urban school systems, Advocate reporter Charles Lussiere writes in this column.

That is important because State Superintendent of Education John White and his department have touted RSD's previous growth as "justification for expanding its role in Baton Rouge."

Lussiere notes that between 2007 and 2012, student test scores in New Orleans' RSD schools improved faster than the rest of the state.

But in the last year, East Baton Rouge and Jefferson Parish school districts improved at the same rate as the RSD, and increased proficiency at a greater rate than the rest of the state.

Those facts beg many questions that should be answered before state control is exerted in districts outside New Orleans.

Why did RSD schools show a spurt in the years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city? Did it have as much to do with the changing population of that tragic city as with the imposition of state control over the schools?

Have any studies explained that growth and revealed a path to replicate the success elsewhere?

Why has the growth of proficiency in New Orleans RSD slowed, and why has it increased in Baton Rouge and Jefferson?

The seizure of schools by the state is a radical step. It should not be taken unless all those questions and more can be answered in its favor.

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