COMMENTARY | The Washington Post notes that public schools as we know it are now on the ash heap of history in New Orleans. It is a dream come true for school choice advocates and a nightmare for teachers’ unions.
After Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, the state of Louisiana seized control of its public schools, at the time considered the worse in the nation, and started converting them to charter schools. These are schools that are run by private operators, free of bureaucratic and union interference. A school voucher system was also set up.
Even though performance in New Orleans schools have vastly improved, it did not stop the Washington Post from playing the race card.
“White students disproportionately attend the best charter schools, while the worst are almost exclusively populated by African American students. Activists in New Orleans joined with others in Detroit and Newark last month to file a federal civil rights complaint, alleging that the city’s best-performing schools have admissions policies that exclude African American children. Those schools are overseen by the separate Orleans Parish School Board, and they don’t participate in OneApp, the city’s centralized school enrollment lottery.”
However Hot Air rebuts the charge of racism.
“It’s a little difficult to credit the concern over equality and parental control to the reliance on charter schools. The equality issue might be the case if the district shifted entirely over to vouchers and left the distribution of children to school recruiters. NORSD isn’t doing that, though; they’re using a lottery system to assign children to the charter schools that still have to operate under the authority of the school district. Any basic lottery system of all but the smallest scale should not introduce radical distribution errors that would create significant demographic imbalance in a population.”
Statistics, however, speak for themselves.
“Before the storm, the city’s high school graduation rate was 54.4 percent. In 2013, the rate for the Recovery School District was 77.6 percent. On average, 57 percent of students performed at grade level in math and reading in 2013, up from 23 percent in 2007, according to the state.”
That does not mean the controversy is over. The opposition to education reform is less about students and more about power. And the unions and education bureaucracy has lost quite a bit of that in New Orleans. If the New Orleans reforms are allowed to succeed, other cities might adopt them. And some people think this can never be allowed,