Earlier, I posted about “the triumph of reform” in New Orleans, referring to an article in the Washington Post on the final conversion of that district to all-charter. One commenter said there are still six public schools in New Orleans, but even so the point of the article was that this is the first urban district in which all or almost all schools are privately managed.

Mercedes Schneider, writing at warp speed, says, “not so fast.”

Reformers used to speak about the New Orleans miracle.” Now they’ve dialed it back to “improvement.” But, Schneider says, even that is an exaggeration.

(Schneider has many links to document her statements. Please read her post to find the links.)

What about that so-called “improvement”:

“I would like to clarify a few of Layton’s glossy statements about RSD.

“Let us begin with this one:

The creation of the country’s first all-charter school system has improved education for many children in New Orleans.

“Layton offers no substantial basis for her opinion of “improvement” other than that the schools were “seized” by the state following Katrina.

“Certainly school performance scores do not support Layton’s idea of “improvement.” Even with the inflation of the 2013 school performance scores, RSD has no A schools and very few B schools. In fact, almost the entire RSD– which was already approx 90 percent charters– qualifies as a district of “failing” schools according to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s definition of “failing schools” as C, D, F schools and whose students are eligible for vouchers.

“The district grade for RSD “rose” to a C due to a deliberate score inflation documented here and here.

“The purpose of vouchers is to enable students to escape “failing” schools. Ironic how the predominately-charter RSD has the greatest concentration of such “failing” schools in the entire state of Louisiana.”

She writes:

“After eight years, RSD does not have a single A school. One can see the need to bury the “miracle” message.

“As to “corruption”– do not believe Kingsland’s misleading words that “corruption” did not happen in RSD following Katrina. Here’s just a brief example:

‘The relatively gargantuan salaries of many of the consultants who appeared to rule the new system was another factor in the public’s general unease. Functionaries of the accounting firm Alvarez & Marsal, for example, which will have taken more than $50 million out of its New Orleans public schools’ operation by year’s end, were earning in the multiple hundreds of thousands, billing at anywhere from $150 to more than $500 per hour. The firm’s contracts continued unchallenged, despite the fact that one of its chief assignments — the disposition of left-over NOPS real estate — was being handled without the services of a single architect, engineer, or construction expert. This omission cost the city a year of progress in determining how and where to rebuild broken schools, and endangered hundreds of millions of dollars in FEMA money. It only came to light when the two Pauls [Pastorek and Vallas] were forced to hire yet more consultants for real estate duty, and to bring in the National Guard to oversee the engineering operations. … [Emphasis added.]’

“Compare the above blatant robbery of school funding with Layton’s words about OPSB pre-Katrina:

“When Katrina struck in 2005, the public schools in New Orleans were considered among the worst in the country. Just before the storm, the elected Orleans Parish School District was bankrupt and couldn’t account for about $71 million in federal money.”

Schneider says the bottom line in New Orleans is: “Charter churn, churn, churn.”