New Orleans shows school gains are hard but possible

New Orleans

Jackson Square in New Orleans

 

NEW ORLEANS — Nothing worth doing comes easy, even in the Big Easy.

That’s the message school reformers preached to a delegation from Georgia last week. They are proud of the successes from a decade of state intervention in Louisiana’s worst public schools via the state’s Recovery School District. Nor did they sugarcoat the difficulties Georgia can expect if Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan for an Opportunity School District becomes law.

In short: This is really hard, but it’s also really worth the effort.

The share of New Orleans students enrolled in failing public schools fell from 62 percent in 2005 to 7 percent last year, even as the state increased standards. The share in A- or B-rated schools tripled to 39 percent.

The city’s high school graduation rate has risen by 19 percentage points, to 73 percent. The share enrolling in college is up by 13 points, to 58 percent.

The gains are shared. A decade ago, New Orleans ranked last in Louisiana for performance by black students. Last year, black students in New Orleans beat the state average for their group by 5 points.

While these figures represent dramatic improvement, “none of us would tolerate (these results) in any of our families or our communities,” John White, Louisiana’s state schools superintendent, told his visitors. “But we’ve done a lot of gap-closing.”

Gaps — not just in students’ performance, but in their backgrounds — remain. Contrary to conventional wisdom, New Orleans’ poor children didn’t flee the floods and stay gone. In fact, they made up a larger share of public school enrollment in 2014 (83 percent) than in 2004 (77 percent).

But the biggest obstacles to school success have been the adults, said Paul Pastorek, who preceded White as superintendent from 2007 to 2011.

Adults who aren’t properly trained as teachers or school leaders. Adults on the school board who spend most of their time on “contracts, coaches and construction” instead of ways to improve student results. Adults who don’t believe the kids at these schools are capable of learning.

“I would love to fix all three of those,” Pastorek said. “I guarantee you the world would be a different place. But it would take a long time, I suspect. … Kids can’t wait for us to fix adult issues.”

Yet, waiting was exactly what he said critics wanted him to do. “People would say, ‘Paul, you’re going too fast.’ I would say, ‘Kids are dying because we’re going too slow.'”

Some of the criticisms were more on point than others. “People need to feel you’re doing reform with them, not to them,” said community activist Bill Rouselle, a sentiment Pastorek and other reformers acknowledged.

Still, some educators viewed the Recovery School District primarily as a threat to their turf. “The districts will fight you tooth and nail,” said Leslie Jacobs, who has served on the city and state school boards. “They will do everything possible to sabotage your success,” such as refusing to send student records to new schools.

“But the fact is,” she continued, “despite all the screaming by the adults, most of these adults are not parents of these kids. If you ask parents … they just want a good education for their kids.”

Ann Duplessis, a state senator from New Orleans, agreed. While it was rough at first, “families are pleased now, and they don’t want to go back. They do not want to go back.”

As for the remaining critics, Jacobs said the evidence is increasingly winning the day: “They’re running out of complaints.”

Reader Comments 0

73 comments
RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Note to Headley, read Downey's column today about the improvement in the Fulton Co school system, due to their use of charter schools.  All these success stories seem to leak out somehow, despite the proggie efforts to suppress it.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@RafeHollister Fulton County is a good example of a school district doing on its own some of the things needed to right the ship. Unfortunately, there are too many districts you can't say that about. Headley and his ilk would simply doom the kids in those districts to living in the same conditions he blames for their problems today.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Go ahead, cling to the notion that you can somehow paper over systematic exploitation of The Poors with... some more exploitation via this OSD nonsense.

You want lower-class kids to achieve? Really want them to do better in school?

Make things better for their families. 

Stop nickle and diming them with "tax reform", stop depressing (or even outright stealing) their wages, stop leveraging hatred against them every election cycle by pitting the slightly-better-off against them by calling The Poors "moochers", stop looking the other way as police departments harass them, stop finding new and creative ways to cut off the paltry social safety net that we do manage to provide...

But y'all know all this already, I suspect, in your hearts.

Also, this.

Public schools aren't failing

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@Visual_Cortex

"Make things better for their families"?

Isn't that the parents' responsibility?

Stop excusing the poor from paying the fair share of taxes needed to fund the government spending YOU want to increase.  Stop blaming their lack of earning potential on everything but their own decisions and bad behavior.  Stop looking the other way when they impoverish their own neighborhoods with petty crime and drug use.  Stop subsidizing failure with handouts.

And I'm not at all surprised that you don't know all this in your brain.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@LilBarryBailout @Visual_Cortex

Expecting individuals to somehow magically buck a system continually, and systematically stacked against them is no way to run anything.

You can go on believing in Personal Responsibility Pixie Dust if you like, but you'll have to find it in the shop that sells unicorn saddles.


LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

Getting a nifty "Featured" flag on one of my posts is now on my bucket list.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@LilBarryBailout I only use that feature to pin something to the top that I want to make sure everyone sees, like that update.

MHSmith
MHSmith

I'll probably vote against OSD and I will ABSOLUTELY vote against expanding any more gambling to fund education. 

Expanding gambling to expand healthcare funding is different, then you horse racers and casino owners can change my nay to a yea.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@MHSmith

Legalized gambling is one of the very few ways in which the takers can give back to the folks who pay the country's bills.

MHSmith
MHSmith

@LilBarryBailout @MHSmith 

In a very small round about way maybe, assuming the ones who were fleeced received money back from the proceeds in some way. Besides you probably forgot how many times I stated publically my strong support in passing the Amendment that made the lottery or gambling legal in this State.


So gambling is fine by me, it's simply time to dedicate any money from the expansion thereof to paying for healthcare  - NOT EDUCATION - where the lack of money/funding is nowhere equal to the short fall that exist in healthcare. 

Hospitals need additional money to pay for indigent care and charity care. 

I'd be more than glad to argue that treating Cancers for a year costs a great deal more money than a year of college. 


Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MHSmith More realistic measure in this year's session is raising the tobacco tax to fund health care. (Not saying it's going to happen, just more likely than expanded gambling.) Where do you fall on that?

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

As for the remaining critics, Jacobs said the evidence is increasingly winning the day: “They’re running out of complaints.”


Headley, they need you to move to NOLA and set those parents straight, their daily experiences and conclusions about the improvement must be skewed.


Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

Update: The Senate passed the resolution putting OSD on the 2016 ballot and the related legislation explaining how the program will work. Those bills now go to the House.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/the-dishonest-case-for-the-new-orleans-school-reform-model/


Another good source of info basically destroying the false argument Kyle presents here. Lots of big words so some of you should probably just stay here. 


Its especially good at destroying the very stats Kyle presents here and shows how they are totally fudged. 


the main reason RSD has made such great strides in grade level performance is that from 2012 to 2013 the state changed the formula and scale for measuring school performance, which artificially inflated RSD’s scores.


The kind of thing Kyle leaves out on purpose. He isn't comparing apples to apples ( one of his favorites ) and if he is honest he will admit it. 


“Of the 37 RSD-NO schools with complete 2012 and 2013 SPS/letter grade information, 26 increased a letter grade as an artifact of [state superintendent] John White’s changes to the scoring system … In other words, had the same rules applied in 2013 as were applied in 2012 to grading RSD schools, then 15 schools would have received a ‘D’ instead of a ‘C,’ five would have received an ‘F’ instead of a ‘D,’ and five would have received a ‘C’ instead of a ‘B.’ Had consistent criteria been used in grading RSD-NO from 2012 to 2013, its district letter grade would have remained a ‘D.’”


Again this whole notion of " Look !!!! All these schools that were getting D's are now getting A's and B's !!! " is a complete joke. 





Don't Tread
Don't Tread

@HeadleyLamar @Kyle_Wingfield "Who cares what the evidence says because I said you're wrong".


Typical liberal ...call someone else "wrong" but have no facts (or made-up "facts") to back up your own argument.


News flash:  Something or someone isn't "wrong" just because you (or any other liberal) say so.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@DontTread My numbers: Infallible. Your numbers: Lies!

That's most Headley comments in a nutshell.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar And that's why the graduation rate is up 19 points? And the college enrollment rate is up? And the rate of grads getting scholarships is up?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield @HeadleyLamar And that's why the graduation rate is up 19 points?


No


Some of its the fudged numbers. Some is due to Katrina and they have a different pool of kids. 


Both are at play here



Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield Ill tell you what it isn't as well. 


Some free market miracle pulled of by the GOP in Louisiana and Bobby " No Go Zone " Jindal.


All because they care so deeply about inner city minority children. 


That is the lie they are peddling and you seem more than happy to tote that water bucket. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

state-created Recovery School District, which holds a tremendous amount of discretion over the assignment of public school buildings, doesn’t have to meet in public. Its administrators can hold private meetings, gather information and have discussions out of public view.


One imagines Deal has that level of transparency in mind for Georgia as well.


Move along...Nothing to see here...Please don't look behind that curtain.


http://hechingerreport.org/want-know-decisions-recovery-district-charters-made-new-orleans-bad/

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@RafeHollister @HeadleyLamar

So, you like transparency?  Obama's regime

but Obama!

By the way, I don't know how much more transparent the FCC's decision making process could have been. Pretty bizarre example.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@HeadleyLamar So, you like transparency?  Obama's regime is the least transparent ever according to some liberal sources.  Net Neutrality, Iran negotiations,  Pass it to find out what's in it, and Hillary's homemade email system are recent examples, do you want to castigate him for lack of transparency. 

MHSmith
MHSmith

Reassigning "central control" from one level of government to another level of government, Kyle? 


I'm surprised the libs haven't nailed you with their usual line on,  "rearranging the furniture on the deck of the Titanic".


If RDS is working in New Orleans then great. Unfortunately real life results unlike labs experiments are not always possible to duplicate and what assurance can you give anyone that State Central Control will 1) be any better than failed district control or 2) State control will not deteriorate to the same failed sorry condition of the failed district central control it replaced?

I'm going to keep this real for all parties concerned: If the "Central Control" at home and in the community have failed in the education process no amount of government or government control from anywhere can address and correct what is "centrally causing" the school failure problem. 




FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@MHSmith

Lou Dobbs wrote about Abbott in his book "War on the Middle-Class". An extensive review of phonics with home reading assignments was key to their success. Kids entering middle school couldn't read.

MHSmith
MHSmith

@Kyle_Wingfield @MHSmith 

Oh I will and my closing statement stands which doesn't need your State Central Control RDS to save a failing school or a failing child. 

What's "The Magic Formula"? Just highly involved parents and a motivated community that will not settle for a failing school or failing child is all we need for success in education.



Hint: Read what Truett Abbott did at Warren County Middle School in Warren County, GA when he, along with the parents, teachers and the entire community got totally involved to save their failing school and failing students. They did this with two years of "STATE EDUCATION FUNDING CUTS", with a over 90% minority-majority student body who qualified for "free school lunches" with many of them living in broken homes.  


Now, beat that achievement with your State Central Control RDS: Then you'll have something worth writing a column about and trying to replicate elsewhere and throughout the State. 


LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

If the feds and the entrenched education lobby were getting the job done, there would be no need to search for successful alternatives to model.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

N.O.  is no place to look for advise or examples.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

As LSU education professor David Kirshner tells AlterNet, Louisiana’s voucher program “does not require that private and charter schools that accept public funds be subject to the same scrutiny of standardized testing that was used to indict the public schools in the first place. So what we have in Louisiana can in no way can be counted as a push from worse to better. Rather it is only a push from public to private.” 


Exactly. And that means profits. $$$$$$$$$

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar Well, that's irrelevant since Georgia isn't talking about adopting the voucher program. Which is why I'm not going to publish any of your other voucher-related comments.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar Your next line: "Yeah right. Like that's not next. Pull the other one."

My next line: So you have no argument.

Your next line: Vouchervouchervouchervouchercreationismprivateprofits.

Just thought I'd save us the time.

EdUktr
EdUktr

A half-century of failed reforms by the education establishment have demonstrated that improvement will not come without real change. 

Legislators should give parents tuition vouchers and put the marketplace in charge.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@EdUktr To be clear, that's not what this program would do. Just so Headley doesn't continue screaming about it.

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

We have had years and years and years of providing these school districts with the only answer they can arrive at and that is "more money." Not only did we not get any improvements from this, it actually got worse. Now, after trying something besides "more money," we immediately have improvements. 


How can anyone be against this?

Don't Tread
Don't Tread

@IReportYouWhine The people currently in charge and the people who support them would be against it, for completely selfish reasons.  But they'll constantly make the claim that "it's for the children", because emotional arguments and lies are all they have.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@IReportYouWhine  How can anyone be against this?


Because it doesn't work and studies show Charter schools perform no better than TPS.



IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

Adults on the school board who spend most of their time on “contracts, coaches and construction” instead of ways to improve student results.


Federal meddling.

independentiii
independentiii

I am all for doing everything we can to improve education.  Even paying more taxes.  And I'm glad Gov Deal is looking at. 


I must say that it is incredulous to me that the Katrina issue, that displaced a vast population. many the families of underperforming children,  which never moved back - wouldn't have anything but a positive result in school results. The families that re-populated N.O. almost have to be people more motivated  to succeed - to make the leap to move there post Katrina.

Great that they are measuring improvement, but it's not a fair comparison to say Ga , or Atl, would get the same results using the same methods.  

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

https://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/new-orleans-recovery-school-district-the-lie-unveiled/


A pretty good read refuting the lie Kyle is peddling here.


The history of the state-run RSD in New Orleans is one of opportunism and deceit, of information twisting and concealing, in order to promote a slick, corporate-benefitting, financially-motivated agenda.  It is certainly not “for the children.”


It is very easy for corporate reform to stand in front of the media and proclaim a New Orleans miracle. Bobby Jindal is doing it.  So are John White, Wendy Kopp, Leslie Jacobs, and a host of others.  No matter how oft-repeated the term “New Orleans miracle” has become, it is a lie.


To other districts around the nation who are considering adopting “the New Orleans miracle”:


Reread this post, and truly consider what it is that you would be getting:  A lie packaged to only look appealing from afar.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar Lie = something I don't really know anything about but some headline somewhere said it was bad, so ... "Lie!"