Jarvis DeBerry, a columnist for the New Orleans Time-Picayune, has written a letter to the students at the John McDonogh School, a charter school that is closing after Steve Barr took it over and pledged to turn it around.

Barr’s company is called “The Future Is Now.” He invited Oprah to send in a television crew to document his success in taking over what he called New Orleans’ “most dangerous school.”

But he is gone, Oprah lost interest, and the school is closing.

Here is DeBerry’s letter.

Dear students of John McDonogh High School:  It is with heavy hearts that we, the residents of New Orleans, write you this letter informing you that we find it impossible to educate you. We’re giving up on our stated goal of preparing you for a future that requires your literacy, your facility with numbers and critical thinking skills. You have our regrets.

We don’t know if your English teachers have taught you about irony – a situation that’s considered strange or funny because it’s the opposite of what’s expected – but it certainly is ironic that the organization that has been running your school is called “Future Is Now.” You kids are so far behind.

When we say you’re behind, of course we mean that you’re behind your peers across the country. That goes without saying. But you Trojans are even behind your peers in New Orleans. In fact, as you probably already know, when you don’t include alternative schools, John McDonogh High School, its proud history notwithstanding, has the lowest school performance score in the state.

And so, you poor students, we’re just going to quit while we’re behind. We’re going to shut down your school in June and try to get a head start on helping the kids behind you.

What’s that? Sure, we’ll send you to another campus. There are other schools in the city you can attend. But you should know that we aren’t really convinced that it’s the campus that’s the problem. John Mac isn’t the first bad school you’ve been to, now is it? So maybe the problem is you. That’s why so many of us are washing our hands of you. We don’t think there’s any hope for y’all to actually become scholars or even hardworking, engaged and informed members of your community. In fact, most of us have got our bets on your seeing the inside of a prison. If you really are “one of the most dangerous schools in America,” as that reality show “Blackboard Wars” put it, why wouldn’t we think y’all were just biding your time before you’re shipped to the penitentiary?

So why should we persist in this charade? Why should we keep pretending that anything is going to get better? Why not just leave you to our own devices so we can better focus on your little brothers and sisters behind you?

Steve Barr, the CEO of Future Is Now, said his approach worked in Los Angeles where so many children had that first-generation-American eagerness and ambition. But he diagnosed y’all as having been on the tail end of “seven generations of crap.” We think, by that, he means that the six generations ahead of you weren’t especially well educated either, that even your grandparents’ grandparents were stepped on, disrespected and denied basic services in ways they shouldn’t have been. So maybe you aren’t expecting to be treated all that different. Or maybe you have no sense of history at all and are just looking at the way you’ve always been treated and figure that nobody really cares whether you succeed or not.

James Baldwin – have you read him in English class? – said in an essay about his old Harlem neighborhood that “children do not like ghettos. It takes them nearly no time to discover exactly why they’re there.” Haven’t y’all discovered why y’all are at John McDonogh, just about the worst school in a state that trails most of the country education-wise? And if you have discovered it, why do you think things would be better for you at another New Orleans campus? Wherever you enroll, those of us with options are going to make sure our children go somewhere else. Shoot, we’re not going to have our children corrupted by children like you.

It’s in dispute whether your school building is as bad as some say it is. Patrick Dobard, the leader of the Recovery School District, says opponents of the school’s management are wrong when they say the building is infested with rats, termites and mold. Still, there’s no argument that the building needs to be made better. So, after y’all are out of the building, local officials plan to reshape it into something nice and lovely. We’re talking a new cafeteria, a new science lab and a performance space. It’s also supposed to have the tip-top in energy efficiency.

That new John McDonogh is going to be some special! Students are going to love it. No, not you current students. You’re a lost cause. You can’t be helped. But trust us when we say we’re going to go all out for the students coming behind you.

Jarvis DeBerry can be reached at jdeberry@nola.com. Follow him attwitter.com/jarvisdeberry.