Sunday, February 22, 2015

BTW Public schools still failing

Maybe it seems like a small thing, but you really should appreciate the occasions when the big city papers admit this.
Nearly 10 years after Hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans’ infrastructure, the city still faces myriad problems, including a failing school system, broken-down streets and federal consent decrees mandated for the city’s jail and Police Department. But topping the list, according to New Orleans City Council members, are two issues: an income inequality that continues to crush the city’s poorest residents and violent crime.
It's taken a while for them to notice but the school system, even after all the "reform" and privatization, is still failing. That's progress.

Here's a recent article by Kristen Buras.  She wrote a book about the charterization movement in New Orleans. (You don't need to buy it. $125, yikes!) The new system still fails to serve its students.  But, in another way, it can be considered a success.
The CEO of Future Is Now, a charter operator in New Orleans, was paid a salary of $250,000 when John McDonogh High School, seized by Future Is Now despite community resistance, posted a performance score of 9.3 on a scale of 150. Call me crazy, but I don’t think that taxpayers received their money’s worth.

In 2012, students from various historic high schools in New Orleans that had been taken over and chartered issued a list of demands to the Recovery School District.

“A lot of money has come to New Orleans for education reform,” they protested, “but none of it benefits the children.”
Buras is speaking Monday evening at Tulane if you're interested.  

Anyway, thanks again to the Advocate for noting that the system is still failing even as an aside to a story about something else. 

That something else, by the way, was a public forum on crime and inequality held by three city councilmembers.  I don't know if they invited the others or not but Jason Williams, Nadine Ramsey, and Jared Brossett are the most vocal councilors regarding inequality.  It's probably just a coincidence that they are the three shortest tenured on the council.... right?
“Affordability is a big issue in this city,” Brossett said, citing rising property taxes and rents, which worsen the burden created by low wages paid in several industries in the city. Together, these issues make the cost of living in Orleans Parish the highest of any parish in the state, he said.

“Income inequality — I don’t need to tell y’all this. It’s vast. I mean, we were compared to Zambia, as far as income inequality,” he said. “That is ridiculous, as we are part of one of the richest and strongest nations on this planet.”

The impetus behind Brossett’s proposal, added Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey,was a disparity between white and African-American workers in New Orleans that seemed to be getting worse over time.

“It’s always interesting to me to read in magazines and news articles and in press releases about all the wonderful things that are going on in our city,” Ramsey said. “But we all know that this economic boom is not being shared across the board in all of our communities.”
This is going to be an important year with regard to these sorts of issues. It will be interesting to see if anything comes out of talks like this one.

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