Echoing Duncan's comments on Katrina
Not since Arne Duncan claimed that Hurricane Katrina was "the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans" have I heard more b.s. about charter schools in the Big Easy. The latest to sling the manure is the N.Y. Times editorial board.
An October 15th editorial, Lessons From New Orleans, takes Duncan's crude comment and runs with it, hailing, "the structural changes [that] occurred because the hurricane essentially destroyed the old system, allowing the city to begin fresh."
"Fresh" meaning the firing of every teacher in the city, the driving out from the city's schools more than 100,000 mostly African-American children, the busting of the teachers union, and the creation of a new two-tiered school system around a core of privately-managed charters.
There is no evidence offered by the Times showing that these charters are any better. The Times board even hedges its bets on charters:
Charters around the country are often no better than traditional schools, and are frequently worse. In New Orleans, they appear to be better on average than charters elsewhere. They generally have a longer school day and a longer school year than most schools. They spend a great deal of time teaching study and time management skills, and plan each student’s development. None of these attributes are particular to charters, but they have helped turn the schools around.So this is what reform is, according to the education experts at the Times. Create a system of schools that are "frequently worse" than traditional schools. Have kids stay in these schools longer and have mostly inexperienced and unqualified TFA teachers teaching poor kids "study and time management skills." I can only imagine what would happen if this recipe was foisted upon white, middle-class parents. But don't worry. It never will be.
Behind this new wave of charter school myth making is a well-orchestrated and well-financed political campaign supported with millions in PAC money coming from the state's most conservative, anti-union and anti-public-school forces. Chief among them is Lane Grigsby, a right-wing Baton Rouge businessman who is committed to taking the public out of public education.
See my post about Grigsby on my Schooling in the Ownership Society blog.
Also see Diane Ravitch's excellent piece: What I learned in New Orleans.