"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Vallas and the Future New Orleans Schools Miracle

There could not have a more appropriate finale to National Charter Schools Week than to have diehard EMO advocate, Paul Vallas, announced as the next superintendent of the distressed New Orleans Schools.

Even though you would never know it from reading the New York Times story on Vallas's new adventure and venture, he leaves an unimpressive privatization experiment hanging by a thread in Philadelphia, where a Rand study earlier this year showed the EMO-managed schools underperforming the public schools they were to replace--even though EMOs receive $450-$750 more per student, thanks to Vallas, than the public schools. (Philadelphia officials were less impressed by the Edison-sponsored study by voucher research chef, Paul Peterson, who turned himself into a psychometric pretzel once again in order to present a partly-sunny picture for Whittle.)

With Vallas's spending authority in Philly diminished as a result of a $73.3 million deficit that he created, and with the final vote on the EMO issue there slated for the coming week, perhaps it was high time for Vallas to move on to greener pastures. And there is none greener than New Orleans, where millions of greenbacks are to be made with fewer of those busybody citizens demanding to know how school money is being spent.

With the blessing of the White House to privatize the New Orleans Schools by whatever means, what better chance could Vallas ask for? Maybe this is where Chris Whittle will finally begin to realize his vision--and our nightmare. And perhaps Jeb Bush's investment of Florida state retirement funds will finally begin to pay off. Remember that story?
November 13, 2003—Acting through a captive money management firm, the Florida Retirement System--whose members consist primarily of public school teachers and other public-sector employees--will pay off the debts and buy out the shareholders of the for-profit education firm Edison Schools Inc., it was revealed Nov. 12.

Reported price tag: $174 million.

The Florida Retirement System is chaired by Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, who supported the purchase despite vigorous objections from teacher unions and some investment experts. The decision to buy Edison, which has used school technology as a key sales point in its efforts to take over troubled public schools, is the most controversial move by the $92 billion pension fund since 2001. That's when the fund lost a reported $325 million buying plummeting shares of Enron stock.

In New York City on Nov. 12, Edison shareholders quickly approved the management-led deal. . . .

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