Archives for category: New Orleans

The Alliance to Reclaim Our Public Schools (AROS) has gathered important information about state takeovers, which target disproportionate numbers of black and brown communities.

 

Be sure to check out this fact sheet.

 

When the fact sheet was published earlier this year, AROS identified 116 schools that were operating in state takeover districts in Louisiana, Michigan, and Tennessee. Of 44,000 students affected, 96% are African American or Latino.

 

The first consequence of the takeover is the abolition of elected school boards. Democracy ends, and the board is replaced by an appointed board, often made up of people who have no connection to the community.

 

The results have been disappointing. Nearly half the schools in the New Orleans Recovery School District are rated D or F by the state (other studies put the figure even higher). The charters in the Tennessee Achievement School District lag the performance of public schools. In Michigan’s Educational Achievement Authority, 79% of students either showed no improvement or lost ground on state tests.

 

 

Parents, students, educators and other citizens are invited nvited to learn about the hoax of Amendment 1on the ballot. It is an effort by the far-right to change the Georgia state constitution to allow the state to take over schools with low test scores and give them to charter corporations. Tea Party Governor Nathan Deal says it is for the poor minority kids, whom he wants to “save.”

Please join civil rights activists to learn more about Amendment 1 and the myth of the New Orleans miracle.

perfect-storm-9-28

Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia is pushing a constitutional amendment to allow the state to take over low-scoring public schools. He calls it an “opportunity school district” and points to New Orleans and the Tennessee Achievement School Districts as models. He brought called together a group of African-American ministers and asked for their support.

Here is the response from one of the attendees, who knew that neither New Orleans or the Tennessee ASD had helped the neediest students. Governor Deal couldn’t answer his questions, because the ALEC model legislation doesn’t explain why cessation of democracy helps schools or what to do after privatizing the schools and giving them to corporations.

Here is the report by Rev. Chester Ellis:

Governor’s Ministers Summoning Meeting was a School Takeover Sales Pitch
By Rev. Chester Ellis 912-257-2394
Pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia

Governor Nathan Deal is working hard to sell the voters on what he calls an Opportunity School District. But this is an opportunity that Georgia should not take.

Recently, The Governor made a pitch to twenty-nine African American ministers in the basement of the mansion. No media was present. But I was one of those ministers.

If Amendment One was about education and opportunity for our communities and children, we could at least hold a logical discussion about evidence-based solutions. As a retired educator and community activist, it is very clear to me that his Opportunity School District is not about education or the community. He has no plan or roadmap to improve schools.

Gov. Deal was looking for our support. He stated, “I need your help.” But we left with more questions than we had answers. It truly is a takeover, and one whose extent is clear to very few voters.

I was disappointed. I thought the Governor would be able to lay out his plan in detail to us. But, what I got from the Governor is he’s making it up as he goes. There’s really no plan. At best, it was guesswork.

Bishop Marvin L. Winans, who has a charter school in Detroit, was the first to speak to us. Brother Winans is a minister and an award winning Gospel singer. He does not live in Georgia. Marvin talked about why he had established his school in Detroit and why he thought it was a good idea that the Governor was willing to do something to help failing schools. But we didn’t have a chance to dialog with him, ask questions or shed light on anything here in Georgia for him. He left for a concert, almost as quickly as he appeared!

Afterwards, the Governor followed with a spiel about why he thought he needed to take over the schools and why the Black clergymen needed to be in support of Amendment 1, The Opportunity School District. He then opened the session up for questions.

I asked him, what is the student to teacher ratio per class of all the schools on your list for takeover? He said he did not have the answer to that question.

My rationale for asking that question was that research tells us ideal pupil to teacher ratio should be 18 to 1, and the further schools and classrooms go past that recommended ratio, the more they are setting students up for failure. Districts need resources to address that problem. The A plus Act of 2000 provided such resources. In fact, this Governor has taken more resources from our public schools. The governor added that he needed to do more research on that issue, so I invited him to do that and gave him some websites he could Google.

I also asked the Governor if all of the schools that are having trouble, as defined by him, are predominately African American schools. He replied, not so much, but that when they looked at schools that were failing they looked at schools that were in a cluster. And that the ministers summoned to the meeting were invited more for being in those identified clusters of schools.

One of my colleagues asked the Governor for the specifics of his Opportunity School District plan. Deal replied that he was using different models, and two of the models he mentioned were the Louisiana Recovery School District and the Tennessee Achievement School District models. Then the question was raised about both of those state’s backing away from the models because they failed to accomplish their achievement goals. In fact indicators prove that New Orleans is worse off now The Governor replied, “We are going to look at what they did wrong, and correct their mistakes so that ours will be right. You know, we have to do something, we are willing to try this and then if it doesn’t work, we are willing to work on what doesn’t work and straighten it out.” The problem with the Governor’s logic is that he is asking the voters to change the state’s constitution. We can’t back up if the voters do that!

The Governor says OSD is a “plan in the works”. . So I urged the Governor to use Massachusetts as a model rather than one from Tennessee or Louisiana, which have both failed.

According to a recent article in Education Week, scholars at the Atlanta-based Southern Education Foundation and Philadelphia-based Research in Action organization found that some states are proposing to mimic “opportunity school district” takeover models despite evidence that prototypes of these models have gone awry. The esteemed Education Week reports that imitating these models are not an appropriate prescription for providing support for schools that needs it.

Massachusetts put their plan in place with on the ground, in the classrooms education practitioners. . Legislators met with them and applied the educator’s advice and professional know how. They set out on a course working together and didn’t change the course until they got the results they were striving for. They are now one of the celebrated and better school systems in the country. I asked the Governor, why didn’t his planners and plans look at that type of successful model?

He replied, “It’s because of demographics.” I responded that clearly Massachusetts doesn’t look like Georgia but education isn’t rocket science …..It requires an understanding of what you are working with. I also referenced just one of many of our state’s successful public school model, Woodville Thompkins High School in Savannah. I’m a graduate of that school and I have worked since 2006 with that school and the community. As a result it is an award winning school in many disciplines.

For the last two years, Woodville-Tompkins Technical and Career High School has had a 100 percent Graduation rate. They have also been cited as being one of the top 30 programs worldwide in Robotics. There is a way to turn schools around and it doesn’t require a Constitutional Amendment. I don’t see the need. It takes a little elbow grease and total involvement from parents, community and legislators to sustain evidence based solutions and models that are already working.

I don’t buy the Governor’s program or plans. He’s selling the public on a quick fix. I think the Governor has some friends who see education as a carte blanche card; something they can make money off of. It’s about the money, not about the children. The legislation doesn’t even define what a failing school is. The Governor has spent little or no time educating the public on the thirteen pages that compose all of the little devils in his plan per Senate Bill 133. He is spending lots of time though, selling his plan.

The Governor is a lame duck, yet he’s asking citizens to trust him blindly and give him all the power over their schools, public property, pocketbooks and children by changing the constitution.

I thanked the Governor for inviting me, but I told him before I left that there are too many uncertainties and too many unanswered questions to go before my congregation and say we should support this. I’m not comfortable with the Governor’s answers or his solutions. His Opportunity School District has no facts and no plans to improve schools. This is an opportunity that citizens can’t afford to take. It is all about the money. It’s just that simple.

Jake Guth is a New Orleans native who graduated from public schools in that city and wanted to “give back.” So he signed up to teach in a charter school. It happened to be one of New Orleans’ super-star schools. Jake worked there four years. He has since moved on. He concluded that the school was setting students up to fail.

Guth writes:

There’s an old adage that if something seems too good to be true, than it likely is. Sci Academy, one of New Orleans’ top-rated charter schools, exemplifies that adage. As a success story/victim of New Orleans Public Schools, depending on which way you want to view it, I approached my job interview at Sci Academy with a big grain of salt. The Craigslist ad for a coach described an academically-driven school that was attempting to start an athletics program.

I still remember how blown away I was by my first visit to the school—how it was unlike any *public* school I’d ever seen: the polite kids I interacted with, the noticeable absence of discipline problems. The red flags should have gone up right away. Like the fact that I had no experience coaching. Or that I was given the keys to a room that was used as the school storage closet and told to clear it for a weight room. Or that there was no budget and the equipment was all donated, meaning that the helmets were well past the three-year certification usage limit and many of the pads were moldy. None of it mattered. I was 24 years old, a minority from New Orleans, and I’d landed what seemed like a dream job.

I am ashamed to admit it, but I drank the Kool-Aid and asked for refills. Being surrounded by mostly young, many non-certified educators, all of whom have really big dreams and aspirations of making a difference in the lives of kids, while being force-fed a steady diet of talk about perseverance and the *Stockholm Paradox* will do that to you.

I could see for myself that Sci was doing all the wrong things, yet claiming phenomenal graduation rates and supposedly putting kids in college *to succeed.* The Kool-Aid was losing its flavor. But I didn’t quit. I’d started advising students my first full year at Sci and I quickly built powerful relationships with them. I worried that, if I left, they might completely shut down towards an adviser who wasn’t able to reach them like I could, and who would then respond by punishing them for their failure to cooperate. I made a commitment to the 12 kids I was advising that I’d stay for a full four years in order to see them graduate….

The year after I signed on to start Sci Academy’s athletics program I joined the school’s mental health staff. I was picked to run an intervention group for behaviorally-troubled kids with IEPs, despite the fact that my only experience consisted of the six months I’d worked at the school.

The year after I signed on to start Sci Academy’s athletics program I joined the school’s mental health staff. I was picked to run an intervention group for behaviorally-troubled kids with IEPs, despite the fact that my only experience consisted of the six months I’d worked at the school. My Sci story isn’t unusual. The staff has a multitude of first-year teachers and teachers without completed certification, including the teacher of a SPED program for students with mild-to-moderate learning abilities. Burnout and frustration mean that *veteran teachers*—those with at least two years of experience at the school—end up leaving at an alarming rate. This past year alone saw nine staff members quit, eight of whom were *veterans,* in addition to four staff members who left mid-year. The result is that new staff members, including non-certified teachers, end up holding positions they aren’t qualified for, doing a further disservice to Sci Academy’s students.

While staff turnover has always been a problem at Sci, it got measurably worse two years ago as the school responded to a lawsuit alleging that by suspending students for trivial matters, Collegiate Academies, the network that Sci is part of, was violating their civil rights. The lawsuit resulted in a *drastic sweep* to install an In-School Suspension System as part of a concerted effort to keep more students within the school. Now, instead of suspending kids for disciplinary infractions, these students would be sent to a Positive Redirection Center (PRC). In theory the new system was intended for kids whose egregious misbehaviors were *disrupting the learning environment,* and included proper documentation, calls to parents, a *reflection guide* and mediation if necessary. In reality, however, teachers now had free license to send kids out of classes for trivial matters such as sucking their teeth, rolling their eyes, or my personal favorite, not working hard enough, a subjective judgment that was left up to the teacher.

Before long, the in-school detention center was overcrowded. The interventionists who ran the PRC quickly grew alarmed, then frustrated and finally exhausted by the sheer number of kids being sent out of class. It isn’t hard to imagine what happened next: kids started working the system and choosing to opt out of class when they didn’t want to be there. Once the school day was half over, kids would be sent home for disciplinary reasons without being counted against Sci’s suspension numbers. Other kids would simply walk off of campus. A divide formed between teachers and discipline staff, with both sides losing trust that the right decisions were being made. Meanwhile, significant numbers of kids, while technically *in school,* still weren’t in class. The system soon devolved into a mess that ended up burning out the very staff who’d been tasked with implementing the new system….

The school’s numbers games have added up to college persistence rate that’s far lower than Sci’s marketing materials would have you believe. I spoke recently to a member of Sci’s class of 2015, now at the University of Louisiana. I could hear the sadness in his voice when talking about what his classmates are up to and how so few of them are succeeding in college: *It is real sad how poorly my classmates are doing when they were told they were doing so great a year ago,* he told me. *It’s clear as day that we aren’t ready to be in a world that negates what Sci taught us about multiple chances and being able to extend deadlines. *

Of the 12 students I advised at Sci Academy, I saw seven of them finish with a diploma. As an adviser, I often went *off script* with my students. I didn’t force on them meaningless lessons about the Stockdale Paradox or insist that they believe in an ideal if they weren’t invested in it. I spent my time and energy building them up for whatever their futures might actually hold: teaching them how to write resumes, finding jobs and holding real conversations about life if college wasn’t an option. Some are studying, some are working on job training, some are working on independence—and that’s okay. I only wish that Sci Academy would have better prepared them for a realistic future.

For the education reformers of our day, Hurricane Katrina created an opportunity for disruption and privatization.

A chance to get rid of public education.

A chance to get rid of the union.

A chance to fire all the teachers, most of whom were African Americans.

A chance for education reform.

Mike Klonsky remembers and puts it into context.

Thanks to Mike Klonsky for calling attention to this article about state takeovers of districts and schools. A takeover nullifies parent and community voice. A disproportionate number of takeovers have been inflicted on African-American communities. As we know from the failure of the Achievement School District, these takeovers have a bad track record. What do they accomplish? They nullify parent and community voice.

In New Jersey – which, in 1987, became the first state to take over a school district – Camden is among several urban districts that have come under state control. The state hired Camden’s superintendent, while the mayor appoints school board members – a practice that predates the state takeover of the district in 2013.

A judge last week dismissed a lawsuit from Camden residents seeking the right to elect school board members, questioning the rationale for electing a board that has been stripped of its power by the state.

In Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia School District is governed by a five-member School Reform Commission, with three members appointed by the governor and two by the city’s mayor. The Chester Upland district is also under state control. Camden, Philadelphia, and Chester Upland have large minority populations.

Be sure to read the descriptions of districts where democracy was snuffed out.

They are districts hollowed out by poverty, deindustrialization, and white flight. The state takeover didn’t help. It stripped away one of the few ways in which residents had a voice. Now they have lost that too.

This is how the story of Highland Park, Michigan, begins:

“Highland Park, Michigan, a small city within Detroit’s boundaries, was once called the “City of Trees.” Thick greenery lined suburban blocks crowded with single-family homes built for a growing middle class. Henry Ford pioneered the assembly line at his automobile plant on Woodward Avenue, the city’s main thoroughfare. The suburban school district was considered one of the top 10 in Michigan, according to a report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 1962.

“Today, most of Highland Park’s trees are gone. Overgrown, empty lots and burned-out houses outnumber occupied homes on some blocks. The Ford plant stands empty. And parents say Highland Park’s once-proud school district has collapsed, hastened by four years under state control.”

As you read these stories, ask yourself the question: seeing the problems, why was state takeover of the schools supposed to be a good idea?

Teacher and historian John Thompson writes here about the reflection that seems to be occurring among “reformers” as they realize that their test-and-punish reforms produce limited gains and limited outcomes. He wonders how different our federal and state policies would be had reformers strived to implement research-based reforms instead of ideas that had intuitive appeal.

He writes:


Something important is stirring in terms of education research. We’ve always gone through cycles, mostly notably in the aftermath of the Coleman Report, during debates over the so-called “culture of poverty,” and during the contemporary data-driven, market reform era, where scholars have had to think twice when analyzing where the evidence leads. This last month, however, a variety of social scientists have candidly expressed the facts that corporate reformers deride as an “excuse.”

Heather Hill’s review of the Coleman Report recalls the seminal study’s finding, “One implication stands out above all: That schools bring little influence to bear on a child’s achievement that is independent of his background and general social context.” Hill reviews the subsequent analyses of Coleman, and the findings of Tony Bryk and Stephen Raudenbush, who “show that differences among schools accounted for about one-fifth of the variability in student outcomes.” The bottom line, she reports is that “schools still pack a weaker punch than many imagine.”

Neither did the Chalkbeat editors pull any punches. Its subtitles clearly convey the message that has been condemned as heresy over the last two decades:

Meanwhile, evidence mounted for one central conclusion: schools matter – but not as much as people might think; and

The logical conclusion: You can’t fix schools without trying to fix broader social inequality, too.

Similarly, Stephen Dubner’s begins his recent Freakonomics Radio program with the words, “in our collective zeal to reform schools and close the achievement gap, we may have lost sight of where most learning really happens — at home.” Dubner concludes, “Most of us probably think too much about cognitive skills and not enough about non-cognitive. Most of us probably put way too much faith in the formal education system, when, in fact, the path to learning begins way before then, at home.” In between, we hear from economist John List, “Schools only have kids for a handful of hours per day, but who, really, will mold kids through their lives are the parents.” Also, early education expert Dana Suskind concludes, that we need preventive, not remediative programs. “About the only way” that we can “move the needle,” she says, is through science-based programs which begin the learning process at birth or before.

Even the most steadfast true believers in accountability-driven, competition-driven reform seem to finally be facing reality. The first words of a NBER paper by John List, Roland Fryer and Stephen Levitt are President Barack Obama’s 2009 statement that, “There is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father who will attend those parent-teacher conferences … Responsibility for our children’s education must begin at home.”

And, even the TNTP seems to be questioning its blind faith that the answers for poverty can be found inside the four walls of the classroom. Its modest pilot project taught Ariela Rozman, Timothy Daly and David Keeling that, “We have a new appreciation for the annual catastrophe that is summer learning loss—and what a headache summer is for the families we work with in general. The out-of-school opportunity gap has received increased attention in recent years … because it is becoming clearer that it is a substantial driver of long term inequality.” After a year of working with real-life families in actual schools the TNTP acknowledges:

Some people argue the post-Katrina choice-based system has led to large, sustained improvements in performance and should become a model for the rest of the country. Others say it’s still largely a low performing system and the process of creating it profoundly disrupted its workforce and community.

That brings us to the research of Douglas Harris, the Tulane University Education Research Alliance, and their recent conference on early education in New Orleans. Harris has documented major post-Katrina gains in New Orleans test scores, while acknowledging that “critics are concerned that schools under reforms are too focused on test scores.” Moreover, he notes that “disadvantaged groups always see a smaller effect than the advantaged groups early in the reforms.” Especially before 2012 or so, there were “real horror stories about how special education students and others were suspended and expelled at high rates,” and “it remains unclear whether the problems are solved.” Harris sees “signs that high school dropouts are being under-reported,” and he says that NOLA’s decentralization can “negatively impact vulnerable groups.”

I sometimes question Harris’s confidence that oversight and accountability can mitigate such problems, but I trust his judgment in regard to the initial beliefs of NOLA reformers, “The original idea was that charters would create some degree of choice and competition, allow some schools more autonomy, facilitate innovation and diversify options. “Replacing” traditional public schools was almost never part of the conversation.” On the other hand, he doesn’t deny the current threat to traditional public schools, “Yet, this is exactly what is happening in New Orleans, Detroit, and some other cities (albeit to very different effect).”

I also sense that the participants in the ERA conference saw the multiple, often contradictory, outcomes of the radical NOLA reform, and that they are mostly preoccupied with addressing its remaining weaknesses. While they may or may not be fully aware of the national campaigns to impose their charter-driven system on cities across the nation, conference attendees mostly see the NOLA model as a “done deal” in their city. They are more concerned about the need to organize, fund, and implement early education programs than in other districts’ need to beat back corporate reforms.

I can appreciate those feelings, but I may have been alone in seeing one graphic as telling the most important story about New Orleans preschool, at least in terms of the lessons it holds for the rest of the country. Pre-kindergarten is only one part of the early education system that we need, but it is illustrative of the “opportunity costs” of the contemporary school reform movement. The percentage of NOLA’s students who attended pre-k dropped from 60% in 2007 to 40% in 2011. That’s a 33% drop at a time when the city’s schools were being funded at a level beyond the imaginations of most educators. Yes, the percentage of students who attend pre-k has increased since then, but in NOLA and across the U.S., we are now facing budget crises.

It’s bad enough that reformers let pre-school slide but, worse, the money for the gold-plated corporate reforms is gone. I doubt that anyone would claim that these reforms were cost effective, and now we have to tackle the complex early education challenge at a time when all of the participating education and social service providers face enormous budgetary constraints.

And that brings us back to the question of what would have happened if we had followed a science-based path to school improvement, as opposed to the test, sort, reward, and punish experiment, known as corporate reform. Granted, Katrina took New Orleans by surprise. It’s not like the city had the time and the inclination to study education research, debate policy options, and plan and implement the best possible reform policies. Not surprisingly, when offered a test-driven, competition-driven model, as well as enormous amounts of funding, they rushed the Billionaires Boys Club’s preferred approach into place.

On the other hand, if Katrina hadn’t hit during the accountability-driven, choice-driven craze, if edu-philanthropists had been assisting a science-based campaign to provide high-quality early education and to align and coordinate socioemotional supports, think of the great good that could have come from the rebuilding of New Orleans education and social service systems. In such a case, NOLA could have turned to state of the art, evidence-based solutions, not the endless edu-politics of destruction.

Yeah, in addition to the down sides of NOLA reforms, bubble-in scores are up. Those metrics probably reflect some meaningful learning, as well are the learning of the destructive habits that are nurtured by retrograde, teach-to-the-test instruction. Is there any doubt that students and families would have chosen humane, high-quality, aligned and coordinated early education programs over the competitive culture of today’s NOLA? And, had such a nurturing, science-based system been built in New Orleans, wouldn’t educators across the nation be welcoming – not shunning – help in replicating it?

https://andreagabor.com/remote-login.php?login=99995c3631b250a1e88a2a361708c854&id=17217480&u=4b02cca4a9dd7cab56c5a57171d726e0&h=

Massachusetts is considering lifting the cap on charter schools. This move is being pressed by Republican Governor Charlie Baker and the usual gang of hedge fund managers, entrepreneurs, and free-market ideologues.

Public school parents are rightfully alarmed. Massachusetts is renowned for having the best schools in the nation. It is the birthplace of public education. This is where Horace Mann, as the state’s first Secretary of Education, persuaded his fellow citizens that the entire community would benefit by supporting the education of the young in common schools.

Now, almost 200 years later, a coterie of faux reformers want to destroy the great public school system that Horace Mann built and that millions of taxpayers have sustained. These so-called reformers believe that Horace Mann was wrong. They want taxpayers to fund privately managed schools, chain schools run by corporate entities.

Andrea Gabor, professor of business journalism at Baruch College of the City University of New York, writes here that Massachusetts should learn from the “calamity” caused by charter school expansion in Michigan.

She analyzes a study by David Arsen of Michigan State University that shows how the growth of charters affects the remaining public schools. (Jennifer Berkshire, who blogs as EduShyster, interviewed Arsen about his study, which is cited by Gabor.)

The charter landscape in Detroit is so bad it makes New Orleans, which has the largest concentration of charters in the country and, a decade after Hurricane Katrina, more than a few growing pains—see here and here and here and here look like a well oiled machine. While there is little transparency or regulation in either city, Detroit has so many charter authorizers that when a school’s charter is revoked for poor quality—as has often happened—they need only go shopping for a new authorizer; New Orleans, by contrast, has had only two main authorizers.

Arsen’s study, which looked at every school district in Michigan with at least 100 students and followed them for nearly two decades, found “that 80 percent of the explained variation in district fiscal stress is due to changes in districts’ state funding, to enrollment changes including those associated with school choice policies, and to the enrollment of high-cost, special education students.”

To put it simply, Arsen told Berkshire: We found that, overwhelmingly, the biggest financial impact on school districts was the result of declining enrollment and revenue loss, especially where school choice and charters are most prevalent.”

Arsen points out that Michigan has one of the most “highly centralized school finance systems” in the country. “[T]he state sets per pupil funding levels for each district, and most operating revenues follow students when they move among districts or charter schools. Districts have very limited authority to raise additional tax revenues for school operations from local sources.” Consequently, when enrollments decline, either because families move out of the district or put their children in charter schools, local authorities have little choice but to reduce spending.

Arsens study….shows that the impact of this funding formula hits the mostly African-American central cities the hardest, with a 46 percent drop in inflation-adjusted school funding revenue between 2002 and 2013.

Bottom line: as charters grow, they suck the resources and the life out of nearby public schools. They are like a parasite that kills its host unless it is contained or removed.

Danielle Dreilinger, a reporter in New Orleans, describes the mechanisms used by three high-performing charter schools in New Orleans to separate the wheat from the chaff and get the students they want.

 

These three charters have figured out how to remain high-performing.

 

For example,

 

Each deploys a unique set of requirements so complicated that parents have made spreadsheets to keep track of the steps, which, as per the schools’ websites and extensive conversations with staff, include some combination of:

 

Parent attendance at a meeting

 
A questionnaire filled out by the parent showing they understand the school’s curriculum

 
An application hand-delivered to the school during business hours

 
A portfolio of the student’s work

 
The child’s school attendance record

 
Scores from a single sitting of a standardized exam, with no retests allowed

 
Within these details are more details. Lusher applicants, for example, must submit a profile detailing the student’s experience and interests in the arts, even if the student is only 4 years old. The school office will not accept applications from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., lunchtime for prospective parents with day jobs.

 

 

For kindergarten applicants, Lake Forest requires a hand-drawn self-portrait, a second piece of artwork and a handwriting sample. The artwork may not be three-dimensional or include food items such as macaroni, and it can’t be a sheet from a coloring book. Lake Forest also specifies a pocketed folder of a particular color, which changes each year; for 2016, it was red.

 

 

All these activities earn points on a scorecard, called a “matrix” by staff. If children don’t meet a minimum total, they are declared ineligible. Despite the extra pieces and activities, test scores make up the largest share of the possible point total. Lusher posted its scoring matrix online this year; Lake Forest did not.

 

 

Audubon has the same kind of point system for third grade and up. Below third grade, there’s no exam or scorecard. Operations manager Alisa Dupre emphasized that the school is not academically selective in the early grades.

 

 

But families are disqualified if they do not attend a curriculum meeting, to which they may not arrive late. Signup for these meetings is online; according to the Eventbrite website, parents were required to show their drivers license, auto insurance and auto registration if they wanted to park at one meeting location.

 

 

Further, this year Audubon had a double process for preschool admission. Getting in early is a big deal because those children automatically advance to elementary, where they typically fill about 60 percent of the kindergarten seats, Dupre said.

 

“School choice” does not mean that parents get to choose. It means that schools choose their students. 

You may have read that Louisiana’s famous, controversial, ballyhooed Recovery School District has been dissolved. Eleven years after Hurricane Katrina, the district comprised of charter schools is being returned to the districts from which they were drawn. Most are in New Orleans and will be returned to the Orleans Parish School Board.

 

Can it be true? Are the charter champions really giving up their struggle? John White knows. He is the State Commissioner who regularly boasts about the miracle of the RSD. But he is not telling.

 

Michael Klonsky has his doubts. So does Karran Harper Royal.

 

 

Mercedes Schneider has written two versions.

 

Here is a brief overview.

 

Here is her close analysis of the law.