09/13 - Charter Checkup

How effective are charter schools in Louisiana? Online Now!

A national report says Louisiana charter school students learn faster than their peers in traditional public schools. That’s not the case, though, if those charters are in suburban or rural parishes. There are over 100 charter schools throughout the state with the nation’s largest percentage of charter school students in New Orleans. So, how effective are charter schools in Louisiana? Are they delivering promised educational dividends or putting taxpayers’ dollars at risk? And when measuring success, do charter schools compete with traditional public schools on a level playing field in the areas of admissions and accountability? Louisiana Public Square looks for answers on “Charter Checkup” Wednesday, September 25 at 7 p.m. on LPB HD.

Backgrounder

In the eight years since Hurricane Katrina, there has been a 170% increase in the number of charter schools in the state. In the last six years alone, the number of charters has risen from 42 to over 110. New Orleans has the highest percentage of students in charters in the United States. While the majority of charter schools are in Orleans Parish, there are charter schools also operating in 19 parishes including Avoyelles, Caddo, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Lafourche, Ouachita, Plaquemines, Richland, St. Mary and Union Parishes.

According to the latest rankings from the Center for Education Reform, Louisiana ranks fourth nationwide for parental educational choice due in part to its “robust charter law (that) serves students in need.” Despite their increasing numbers, charter schools still remain somewhat of a mystery to the majority of Louisianans. So, what exactly is a “charter school” and what is driving their growth? Are they delivering promised educational dividends or putting taxpayers’ money at risk? And when measuring success, do charter schools compete with traditional public schools on a level playing field?

...Read Full Backgrounder

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Our Panelists:

We want to know your opinion! Leave your comments in the box below.


As a public school educator, my most pressing question is, why are charter schools not held to the same accountability rules and standards as our state’s traditional public schools? Traditional public schools are mandated by law to accept ALL students and follow the laws and mandates of our state. We educate students with disabilities, with extreme discipline and mental health issues, transient students who move from school to school, students from dysfunctional homes (whose parents love them dearly), students who speak little or no English, and the list can go on and on. The public schools in my district have been steadily improving test scores each year. Yet no one acknowledges this steady growth. Our state department just keeps changing the rules on us and hiding the data so no one can tell what is going on.   
  Charter schools drain our traditional public schools of much needed funding that is critical to meeting the needs of our high risk population. Those high risk students are not allowed into most charter schools. Charter schools have allowed our state to slowly re-segregate schools, under the false guise of “choice”. In New Orleans this “choice” is an F school or another F school for our students most at risk. Uncertified teachers and unaccredited programs with little or no financial oversight can not be a good thing for the common good of our state. The constant churn of opening and closing neighborhood schools can not be good for children.  Charters remove the local public governance and voice that is so important to the common good, as the foundation of public education in our democracy.   
  If the freedom and lack of regulation afforded to charter schools is such a positive factor in education reform, then why are traditional public schools NOT afforded those same freedoms? If we are to continue to compare the results of public vs charter, then it is time to tell the truth. Charter schools produce no better results than traditional public schools, even though they don’t play by the same rules.  The information from Research on Reforms tells the real story. The information revealed by Dr. Mercedes Schnieder and others tells the real story. Why is that research and data hidden from the public? I suspect that the collusion by some members of our BESE board and government who are in bed with the charter foundations has something to do with it. Why is it that we are allowing millions of dollars of our tax payer money to be finded to out of state corporations, unregulated For Profit charter operators, Teach For America, private and parochial schools, and InBloom, just to name a few? It is time for the public to hear the truth so that the voters of our state will hold our elected officials accountable for their decisions.   
  I am concerned that this experiment in education reform, which has no basis in research or fact, is slowly chipping away at the core of our responsibility to provide equal access and prepare ALL students to fully participate as an educated democracy requires. The biggest question here is, who is going to suffer if this experiment fails?

Posted by Bridget Bergeron  on  09/14  at  01:07 PM

The most important advantage charter schools have is that the students choose to be there. When that applies, the effects of anti-education bias, the 600 pound gorilla in our culture
obvious in much of Louisiana and especially prevalent in New Orleans, can be minimized. A quality education can become possible.
The resistence to education we suffer is a contagion we must address. Giving those who desire to learn the circumstances to do so is paramont, but attacking the actual reasons resistant students aren’t learning under adequate educational conditions is essential in order to achieve the overall goals we claim to have.

Loy Nunn

Posted by Loy Nunn  on  09/25  at  07:03 PM

The study referenced in the lead on this page is the product of a group (Center for Research on Edcucation Outcomes) that is significantly connected to pro-charter school corporate funders and advocates. So is the Center for Education Reform. They and the TFAers on the panel share the same goal. The “Read full backgrounder” button provides more balance.

I didn’t hear anything that sounded like ‘reform.’  The TFAer’s dialogue centered on ‘choice’.  If all this hoopla was really about choice, local public school districts that are truly non-profit and run by certified, experienced professionals vested in their communities could manage this better. 

An actual round-table debate would have been more informative.

Posted by Abigail Quinn  on  09/25  at  10:55 PM

It seems that the panelist that speak the most say the least. Regarding the recovery districts in New Orleans that improved after Hurricane Katrina,no one mentions the evacuation of thousands of lower socio-economic students that skewered these schools results. Who will take care of least cared for of the population?

Posted by Clyde LeBlanc  on  09/26  at  11:14 AM

If there is something to learn from charter schools, why has the RSD not learned those strategies and improved their direct run schools at the same rates they claim their charter schools are performing? Could it be that the RSD direct run schools are the dumping ground for charters and the charters having the higher performing of the low performing students? Why are we not demanding that the RSD direct run schools show what they’ve learned from their charters?

Posted by Karran Harper Royal  on  09/26  at  12:11 PM

please keep replaying the excellent show last night that aired on charter schools! This has been the only traditional news media source so for with balanced coverage of this issue!

Posted by Nancy Broussard  on  09/27  at  08:24 AM

Shauna and Beth, I just want to commend you for the excellent show last night on charter schools! It has been so frustrating to watch the lack of intelligent, informed debate about this reform in the rest of the news media. I have e-mailed Advocate reporters and also spoken on the phone with Will Sentell of The Advocate. I even called Will out of frustration for his imbalanced coverage of education reforms. He was a poor listener, and made comments that sounded as if he were a paid spokesperson promoting charter schools. You all are doing the only professional, in-depth reporting about essential issues regarding charter schools(besides bloggers sometimes lacking professionalism). Thank God for public television! The comment that was made that The Advocate has endorsed all the reforms has been all too apparent in their biased reporting. You intimated that more might be forthcoming on vouchers and virtual education. I look forward to that. Hopefully what will be emphasized regarding vouchers is the poor academic outcomes. It’s as if there is a major false assumption not backed up by test scores, so far here nor, in other parts of the country for many years, that giving parents a choice automatically increases education outcomes for children. Test scores do not bear this out. This major issue has been glossed over. I could go on but I’ve run out of space. Keep up the good work!

Posted by Nancy Broussard  on  09/27  at  08:27 AM

This is really interesting; you are a very skilled blogger. I’ve joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your wonderful post. Also, I’ve shared your site in my social networks!

Posted by kidspace  on  10/05  at  05:33 AM
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