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

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Discrimination in NOLA; and, Obama Doesn't Know Squat 'bout Charters

From the Times-Picayune:

Feds investigating racial discrimination complaint involving some Orleans charter schools

By Sarah Carr, The Times-Picayune

January 19, 2010, 7:46PM

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is investigating a complaint alleging that a handful of New Orleans charter schools have discriminatory admissions.

Specifically, the complaint alleges that the Orleans Parish School Board's admissions policy for charter schools discriminates against African-American students.

[Cont. here]

Without being aware of the investigation in NOLA, President Obama made this claim during his speech today:
In Illinois, Louisiana, Tennessee, California, we've seen changes in laws or policies to let public charter schools expand and succeed.
So, Mr. President, what are you doing to regulate the expansion of these charter schools? The alleged "success" of NOLA charters is certainly less rosy than many members of the media (and government) realize/understand. And, while the Civil Rights investigation is only an investigation at this point in time, it's certainly (yet another) indication of the need for serious regulation of charter schools.

But one other remark by the President shows exactly how mis-informed he is about the charter school movement:
These [charter schools] are public schools with more independence that are formed by teachers, parents, and community members.
He's half right about this: some charters are designed this way. This was the original idea behind charters - independence for local communities and teachers/parents. But the CMO/EMOs that Obama and Duncan are pushing are NOT formed by teachers, parents, and community members - they're formed by chains (both for-profit and non-profit) and are yet another form of top-down management. Charters were also supposed to be labs of innovation, not a template for replacing public schools. To say "things have changed" would be an understatement.

I know Obama is smart - but he's grossly unaware of the more nuanced details of the charter school movement. How can we get through to him?


  1. Anonymous7:37 PM

    So, you think Obama is smart, huh?

    Well did you ever read what he wrote about President Woodrow Wilson in his book The Audacity of Hype, er, I mean Hope?

    Wilson was just this wonderful man who cared about the people of the world and wanted independence for everyone. Except for the time he sent the Marines down to Haiti, killed about 2,000 residents and took over their economy in 1915. Obama forgot that part.
    Smart guy, that Obama.

  2. It's not a matter of IQ or morality. The president is accountable to his shareholders in the Democratic Party. The question has to be rephrased as one of how can we make democrats accountable, not what kind of moral pocket-change can the president spare.