"Contrary to popular belief, New Orleans public schools had been extremely successful with children before the state takeover," said Darryl Kilbert, named interim superintendent of the system last week. "There was growth, there was progress. But then came Katrina."
What is this guy talking about? What measure demonstrates this, other than microscopic improvements in a few test scores? Were the facilities improving? Ask kids and parents who were in the system if they felt good about the trends.
Now, two of my kids are in one of charter schools assailed by the critics mentioned in the article. I have very mixed feelings about the best course for Orleans Parish public schools. The one thing I do know is that the old way wasn't working at all.
The critics of charter schools in this article complain about segregation, but isn't that what the old way of running public schools got us? White Racism and Flight, plus "It's Our Turn To Benefit from the Corruption" Cronyism, got us where we were before.
Why not try charter schools and see where it takes us? I don't think the system could get more segregated or worse. (A woman in the article said she didn't want the system to experiment on children. Um, don't you think that last regime was en experiment? And it was a failed one.) A few years ago, the valedictorian at Fortier couldn't pass the LEAP, which is a solid but not overwhelmingly challenging basic skills test. The system failed that young woman and thousands of her peers.
Vouchers are controversial, but I do know one thing: look at who gets most uncomfortable about them, and look at who likes them. Working class minority people tend to like them; white suburban middle class people and old-school liberals tend to hate them.
Anything that makes those latter crowds uncomfortable automatically gets my attention and interest. Vouchers, charter schools--let's go.