Again, I thought Charter Schools were supposed to solve all these problems.
First of all, I like how this article came out on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at 6:31pm. One wonders which issue of the paper it ran in, and how many people read that issue while preparing for Turkey Day. I follow these issues, but I was traveling then. Dangerblond had to tell me about this, and I had to go back a few days to find it online.
Turkey Day. Indeed.
The Orleans Parish School Board only has "local control" over a handful of schools. (Please see chart and post at G-Bitch) Nine of them are accredited through SACS (like Ben Franklin High School, OP Walker and Warren Easton), but not all of them are. One would think that the administrative staff OPSB pays out of NOLA's property tax dollars would be able to keep up with what is going on at their schools more frequently than every two years.
But, as we can see from the chart, all four charter schools on probation with OPSB are either non-network charter schools or are not directly overseen by the OPSB Superintendent.
So, instead of one system of oversight here, we have six: the Louisiana Board of Education (well paid as they are), overseeing the OPSB and threatening to take away schools if performance isn't there; the OPSB that contracts out the charters; and the charter organizations of each individual school.
And yet, charters are politically sold to us as a way to get bureaucracy out of the way of childrens' learning.
Let us look now to the charges that brought on probation: two are on probation for academic reasons and two are on probation for financial reasons. The financials come down to ineffective auditing practices at two schools. This means the chartering organization has to spend money hiring accountants and auditors (or contractors) to do this work, while the OPSB has their own auditors and accountants to audit the auditors. So much for getting bureaucracy out of the way of childrens' learning.*
The acadmic probations hit one school due to test scores and another due to attendance. These are problems that face almost every school - but what will happen to these charters if the problems are not resolved? Well, if they aren't brought up enough, the charters between the OPSB and the people running these schools will be revoked or not renewed. That means some other organization (and perhaps several) will bid for the contract to run these schools. How much turnover will this cause each school?
How does high (or entire) staff and teacher turnover help test scores or attendnace in any way besides lowering it? How many years will the new staff need to adjust to the new way of doing things? How many years will the students need to adjust to the new staff during their adjustment period?
And yet, these events are the exact selling points for charter advocates.
Now, I don't want y'all to get this idea that I in any way support the system that was here before. I don't want y'all to think that I'm completely against the idea of charter schools (I have many friends who do fantastic work at charters). My problem is this "system", which looks to have a lot of the same problems of whatever existed here before.
*(though the "fix" for this "red tape" would be to contract the same company to audit the schools and audit themselves auditing the schools - coming soon from a politician's mouth, I'm sure of it)