The success of schools in New Orleans is more fiction than fact. People in the United States prefer stories with a positive ending, where the good guys win, challenges are face head-on and overcome, and everyone lives happily ever after. For too many kids in New Orleans, this is not the truth.
The improved matriculation rate is almost entirely due to using a new matching file. You will see that over time this rate will no longer increase The old rate did not include all Louisiana colleges or any out of state colleges. You will see the largest increases in the better schools – because their best students were going out of state to flee the disaster that Bobby Jindal has made our Higher Education System into. For now, this number has served its purpose by making many of you think New Orleans (and Louisiana for that matter) has achieved a miracle under John White.
The Recovery School District has been exiting as many as 18% of their 9th grade cohorts out of state or country. This removes them from being calculated in School Performance scores, removes the impact of them actually dropping out, and raises graduation rates. This rate has been steadily increasing for years to show increased performance to impress folks out of state looking to implement an RSD type solution.
The New Orleans system is divided between haves and have-nots. The selective admission system has grown and done well. The RSD competes not on quality but fancy advertising to draw new students – according to a survey of their own principals.
The population of New Orleans has changed. It is less poor than prior to the storm as many of the poorest families were unable to return because they lacked the resources or any suitable housing. There are no more housing projects in New Orleans and a lot less low income housing. Comparing the two populations is not appropriate if you recognize poverty as a factor impacting performance. By bringing up the poverty level of New Orleans in a recent op-ed, John White clearly does.
State Standardized Test Scores have been lowered by as much as 15% to improve the performance of RSD. In other words, a student performing at Basic required 15% fewer correct answers than prior to John White’s arrival to achieve a “Basic” score, or about 40% of the material on our LEAP and iLEAP tests.
T (turnaround) schools occur every year and these schools do not appear in the “official statistics. There is a perpetual population of students getting shuffled around and not being counted or considered in the success or failure of New Orleans schools.
Families often do not get their “choice”. The choice selection is made by a computer program, not families. Often the children are placed at schools very far away and require hours of busing to and from school. Families with multiple children often find their children assigned to schools on opposite sides of the city making parental participation a nightmare or all but impossible. Some parents report waking their kids up at 4am to get them ready for a bus that won’t bring them home until 7 at night – when there is only time for homework, a bite to eat, maybe a bath, and bed. This forced separation destroys families. Families that don’t like the choices assigned to them have the option of standing out unsheltered in the 100+ degree heat to try and make changes. Thousands of families are forced to do this every year while Recovery School District Staff lounge in their luxury, climate controlled, downtown offices across from the Superdome.
Can you handle the truth?