While your recent editorial finds the new criticism of charter schools coming from Democratic candidates to be unfortunate, there are many good reasons for both Democrats and fiscally responsible Republicans to take a second look at a district that is now 100% charter.
If charges are to be leveled against the pre-Katrina New Orleans public school system, fairness requires that the charter school world that replaced it also be carefully assessed. What have we found?
Reading The Advocate over the past years, we find a long list of abuse and the waste of taxpayers' money. Scores and grades have been changed. School boards have made crucial and costly decisions with little public oversight and less accountability. Administrative positions with high salaries have multiplied like amoeba. Rapid teacher turnaround is a given. Parents are stymied by a choice system that shuts them off from the schools they want. Interest in neighborhood schools is gone, condemning students and their parents to long bus rides or commutes.
Why have the folks who call the shots in New Orleans pushed so hard for this? Of course, there are some who do it only for the children. But many of them, who whose children will never set foot in any public school charter or otherwise, have an aversion to unions. How dare let teachers, who have committed their professional lives to educating children, have a collective voice at the table? They will speak up at meetings, make suggestions.
There is also perhaps a sniff of racism or elitism in taking away control of the public schools from the "unlettered" majority of its citizens and putting it in the hands of those who know better.