Friday, May 06, 2016

Bye, RSD

Mission Accomplished, I guess. It's all over but for the troop draw down.
The Louisiana Legislature is ready to close a chapter in New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina history. Both the Senate and House have voted to reverse the 2005 state takeover of most of the city's public schools.

By July 1, 2018 -- or 2019, at the latest -- 52 Recovery School District charters will move back to the oversight of the Orleans Parish School Board, unifying the school system once more, emptying out the Recovery system in New Orleans and symbolically healing a wound torn open after the hurricane
This is a big deal. I don't even want to try and condense the amount of background in that article for you. Instead let's just highlight this one bit.
Clear, too, has been the change in the race of those in charge. The Legislature's 2005 vote shattered an almost entirely African American workforce, a point not lost on black critics of the takeover. New Orleans' teaching force was just 50 percent African American last year, according to New Schools for New Orleans. The takeover, and the subsequent closure or chartering of every single Recovery school, vaulted New Orleans into the spotlight of national education circles. Other states continue to create their own "recovery" systems; one is pending in Georgia now.
The RSD takeover began before Katrina. But the post-K mass firings and charterization was a swift deliberate blow to the "backbone of the city's middle class."
Shortly after the storm hit, the Louisiana State Legislature voted to take over the New Orleans school district and fire all 4,600 teachers, along with hundreds of other staffers. The effect of that decision on the schools has been the subject of an intense and still unresolved debate. But one effect is clear: Thousands of mostly black school employees lost their jobs, and although some were rehired, many more were not.
“When you fire all of the New Orleans public school teachers and its personnel, you’ve given a big whack to the middle class, because teaching was one of the professions where African-Americans knew they could go to school and come out with a job,” said Beverly Wright, a Dillard University sociologist. “Teachers were a treasured possession of the middle-class black community.”
The damage there is mostly done. But lately we've seen teachers in the charterized system begin to organize and assert themselves anew.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Unionization efforts continue at some charter schools in New Orleans. United Teachers of New Orleans says in a Wednesday (April 27) statement that International High School in New Orleans has become the fourth New Orleans charter school where staff has decided to join the union. They want the school's board to consider recognizing the union May 18.
Expect this to become a fairly important point of controversy once the school system comes back under direct control of a locally elected board. The pushback is already beginning. And, unsurprisingly it comes from administration at one of the city's whitest charter schools. 
Three board members at Lusher Charter School have denounced a move this week by CEO Kathy Riedlinger to challenge an upcoming teachers union election at the school, saying the move is in direct conflict with the board’s recent directive urging employees to remain neutral.

Board chairman Blaine LeCesne and members Chunlin Leonhard and Carol Whelan said Riedlinger and her top deputies overstepped their bounds when they challenged the National Labor Relations Board’s authority to oversee a local union election.

“I found it very disconcerting that this is being engineered by the administration, which is directly against our policy,” LeCesne said. “The administration is bound to follow the directive and policy of the board.”
It's already a problem for the Lusher Charter board. What happens when it becomes a citywide OPSB issue? And could that start to matter as early as this fall?  Who is going to run for these seats, anyway?

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