The New Orleans Tribune pulled the mask off the charade of reform in New Orleans. The much-heralded experiment of turning every public school into a charter school is a failure. In the latest state ratings, more than half the schools received a grade of D or F.

The newspaper’s editorial board writes:

It has been said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.

Well, NOLA Public Schools must be certifiably insane; because here we are — 17 years deep into a so-called education reform movement; and this year’s recently released school performance scores continue to reveal the what we have long known — this reform was and is a farce and a failure.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, laws were rewritten to make the takeover of public schools in Orleans Parish easier. The minimum school performance score needed to escape being considered a failing school was raised from 60 to 87.4 so that more public schools in New Orleans could be taken over by the Recovery School District. Veteran teachers were summarily fired without cause. School buildings and resources were turned over to quasi-private charter management organizations. Our children were and still are bussed all over the city.

Then in 2019, the reformers really dug in, and the Orleans Parish School Board got out of the business of operating schools all together, turning over every campus to a charter operator and an unelected and unaccountable board.

And all of this for what?

If any of this maneuvering would have resulted in success, we would have nothing to say.

But there are 65 charter schools loosely operating under the cavalier control of the Orleans Parish School Board, and based on the 2022 school performance scores released in November by the Louisiana Department of Education, more than half of them are D and F schools. In other words, they are failing or close to it. In fact, if the SPS of 87.4 that was purposefully raised to take over public schools in 2005 were applied right now all but four of the 65 NOLA public schools could be taken over TODAY!

Let’s say it again, another way — if the same standard that was intentionally changed to takeover and destroy public education in Orleans Parish in 2005 were applied to the 65 public charter schools operating under NOLA Public Schools today, a full 61 of those schools would be considered failing by the state RIGHT NOW!

All of the teachers and administrators should be fired without cause; their buildings and resources should be turned over to the RSD; their students and the money that follows them should be scattered to the wind.

Of course, that’s not going to happen. In order to mask the failure of this corporate takeover of public education masquerading as a reform movement, the minimum SPS has been lowered over the last decade and half, indicative of the fact that this so-called reform has never been about improving educational outcomes for our children.

And the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has refused to revisit its accountability policy.

That is because this reform is and has always been about power and control over resources, contracts, assets and the dollars that follow every student. It was never about the students….

So we ask: Where’s the reform . . . the change . . . the miracle results touted as the public school system in Orleans Parish was pillaged and plundered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina?

We know the truth. The miracle was a mirage…It’s time to recall this reform! It is time to return public education in New Orleans to real local control so that another generation of children are not left by the wayside.

The New Orleans Tribune is an African American newspaper, so its views will be ignored by the powers that control the legislature and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.