cross-posted at The G Bitch Spot
- The opening prayer oddly asked God to still or help instill “self-control” and “punctuality” in the students under discussion, and he was not talking about Holy Name or Lusher.
- Asher’s teacher-blaming started from her opening words–that the children haven’t failed, it’s that “adults have failed to teach” them.
- Guttierrez calling the RSD the “ultimate accountability” body was rich considering recent news.
- Guttierrez also never defined “proficient” though he use it a lot. I guess he means proficiency level on the LEAP and GEE?
- Burns’ best insight–the fragmentation pre- and post-Floods. And that it remains to be seen how that will play out in the future.
- Mogg didn’t say much outside of answering the 2 questions posed ot her. I thought the Cowen Institute would have more to say since they’ve been more than knee-deep in all the chartering and reform and such. But when she did speak, she said it’s still hard to understand why student performance has risen because so many changes, programs and methods happened at once. Then she added that much one-time money is about to dry out and as some of these new programs are cut, we may see what works. By which I think she meant that if program X is cut and student performance [LEAP and GEE scores?] go down, we can know or suppose that program X works.
- Asher’s early response was dotted with references to teachers and teaching–the “freedom” charters have to hire teachers, “no wiggle room” for bad teachers to stay in the classroom, and schools no longer being able to “protect teachers who are bad for kids.” The oddest part was her following the statement that nationally charter schools are no better than traditional schools with cheerfully asserting that being a charter school in NOLA gives “great leverage” and “freedom to spread your wings.”
- Add to that Guttierrez stating in his answer to an excellent Q&A question on why RSD schools are not improving that the RSD is subject to “tenure laws” and “we” are looking at how “tenure impedes progress.” That not being able to fire teachers at will is what makes RSD schools low-performing. [I’m sure I made a noise at that point.]
Bonin’s answer to the RSD question was that with competition, schools are “fighting for the good students” and not-so-good students are lumped in the RSD. Then he said, to my surprise, this “market-based sort of system doesn’t work” because “no one wants” low-performing students and charters have incentives to get or keep them out. His solution—charters need to be offered “incentives” and concessions to take these students. And I was more surprised when he followed that with “generations of students [are] being lost” in all the school closing and shuffling and reshuffli
- Only Hancock mentioned the role of race and politics in NOLA public education over the previous 100+ years. But LUIQEE is not interested in advocacy.
- Bonin called himself “blunt” often, especially before saying—despite a voiced commitment to education, the state hasn’t increased the MFP in 3 years; that no funds at all are provided for building maintenance; “it costs more” to educate special needs students and it becomes a “bottom line” issue for charters, creating a disincentive to enrolling special needs students [I’m not sure if the bottom line is only financial, test-score-wise, or financial and test-score-wise.] and charters are put in the position of trying to figure out how not to have many special needs students; there is “inequality in funding” in NOLA schools, said more than twice.
- Guttierrez said that “research” shows what makes a good school
- When Guttierrez said “we” now have an “incredible legion of individuals” on the boards of charter schools, did he mean just those who Asher called her peers [see below] or some imagined or real cross-section of stakeholders and community members—or members of communities, because only the smallest of communities is likely to be homogeneous.
- I was and will continue to be troubled by those like Asher who assert that they and their “peers” didn’t care about public education because OPSB was “so corrupt” and the teachers were all bad. It is not a secret that many blacks, women, and black women worked in the schools, and the OPSB as a body, schools an integral part of the picture, was perceived as black, or black-identified. The conviction that all the teachers were bad is unrealistic on its face and insulting in intent. Teachers were fired en masse, the good and bad, the ones with potential and the ones who probably would never be anything but mediocre. Or administrators. All were assumed tainted, though if you look at some of the selective admission charter schools, you’ll see teachers with many years of experience, some of that in OPSB. You also see more and more teachers with less and less experience in even these schools. Those bottom-line issues Bonin “bluntly” spoke of.
- Most of what they talked about was governance. Little about teachers, other than how important it is to be able to fire and hire them at will, nothing about students really, and parents when Guttierrez asserted poor and black families, not many of whom were in the audience, that “you, too, have options that are high-performing.” The question is how to exercise this choice in a “system” he admitted can be “confusing.” And when it’s all about the students, the children, why are they so tangential to the discussion, or “discussion”?
- For Guttierrez, who got closest to actually answering the question on what an “excellent public education system looks like, a successful system produces ACT scores of 20 from some relevant percentage of high school students or as a system-wide average, he didn’t explain which, if either.
1) making students aware of their test scores and “owning” them
2) the quality of teachers
3) the quality of “the leader”
This suggests that a 3-tiered system may not be a disadvantage. If you average enough high-performing schools with a good solid middle of good-enough or decent-performing schools with a small set of low-performing schools, it could still average out, I suppose.
And for Bonin, excellence is all about governance.
Great post! How widespread is the squabbling? What is tragic is that no one appears to have an idea of what works.
The main players seem to have believed that privatization was all that needed to happen, that changing who governs a school changes fixes all flaws. The squabbling is because of the fragmentation Dr. Burns pointed out and that fragmentation is even worse with so many charters operating “independently”–though some charter school leaders seem to over-value/-state this independence or see it as far more broad than it is. Other than one-time money coming in to start charters and support different programs, public education funding hasn’t risen and it leads to inequities that feed the already problematic divisions and squabbles. Charter schools that were flying high post-Floods are now biting their nails over where the money will come from to keep the students they have and get more good ones.
You’re right that no one seems to know what works. Part of that comes from the brutal way “change” was brought to the system. Everything–and everyone–was thrown in the air and like the Cowen Institute rep said, there’s too much going on at once to have any idea what’s working or not. Add to that that charters do their best to cherry-pick the best students they can get, and you have to wonder what if anything is working other than limiting enrollment and moving the stragglers and troubled and needy out to protect the school’s bottom lines. If a doctor gives you 5 prescriptions for a condition and you start feeling better, no one can tell you which, if any, of the meds are the cause of the improvement.
And the assumption that high-stakes standardized test scores are the primary and only measurement that matters disturbs me to no end.
It’s sad that even as the adults keep asserting this is all about The Children, they are still playing shell games with each other, the students and parents left behind.
The squabbling is far and wide, Jimmy. Here’s a taste (be sure to check out the comments).
Wow. Does anyone have a score card to isolate all of the agendas?
Some of those with the most-strongly-held agendas do not believe they have agendas, only that they are right.
And then there’s the level of squabbling over school buildings, who or what will occupy where. Money is another squabble, with many schools envious and even bitter about the money other schools get from foundations, parents, Saints players, etc.
Sorry I didn’t actually answer your question.
A score card is a good idea, Jimmy. Would you keep one for us?
I like to think I’m pretty fair about all this, but at this very civil forum I started to feel a touch unhinged. Some of these folks I simply find infuriating. Keep in mind that by “unhinged” I only mean I had great difficulty refraining from making wisecracks during the forum. I whispered to GB a couple times. Once others may have heard me. That’s why I don’t go to many of these.