RSD Schools Are Failing Our Children
On March 1, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu held a roundtable discussion in Washington D.C. with her colleagues and staffers to tout the improvements in New Orleans Public Schools since Hurricane Katrina, holding New Orleans up as a national leader in education reform.
The focus of this discussion was a recent report issued by New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) and a research group called Public Impact from North Carolina titled “New Orleans-Style Education Reform: A Guide for Cities.”
Among the many conclusions on achievement presented in this report, three of the most salient are that New Orleans has experienced significant achievement gains since Katrina in 2005; New Orleans has decreased the achievement gap between its students and the state’s average; and New Orleans has decreased the number of students attending failing schools.
However, the report does not assess individual school achievement results using the letter grade classifications employed by the state of Louisiana.
In addition, the achievement results presented were combined for the three separate and distinct governing entities in New Orleans: Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), Recovery School District (RSD), and the schools that are run directly by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). Bunching the achievement data in this manner makes it impossible to determine whether, and to what extent, the RSD has provided the poor, disadvantaged, and public school students with the quality education originally promised as justification by the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) to dismantle the Orleans Public School System.
Studies by Research on Reforms have continued to document the achievement failure of the RSD based on the expectations of Louisiana’s accountability program. Yet, the public continues to be fed the propaganda by the Louisiana Department of Education, the Recovery School District and various support advocacy groups such as Educate Now! and New Schools for New Orleans as to the tremendous progress made by this reform movement.
Based upon the results presented in the table below, it is rather ridiculous for anyone to claim that New Orleans has become a national leader in education reform and thereby should serve as a national model to other cities.
In fact, contrary to the questionable significance of the achievement gains reported by NSNO and Public Impact, the 2011-12 letter grades assigned to RSD charter and traditional schools demonstrate the very low level of academic performance that still exists in these schools after six years of direct control by the LDOE. A cursory examination of the RSD schools clearly shows that the general achievement level of the vast majority of RSD schools, as measured by the assigned letter grades, is pathetic at best. Some of the major highlights that can be observed from the tables with respect to the current achievement levels of the RSD after six years are as follows:
• 100 percent of the 15 direct-run RSD schools assigned a letter grade received a “D” or “F” as compared to 20 percent of the 5 OPSB direct-run schools graded;
• 79 percent of the 42 charter RSD schools assigned a letter grade received a “D” or “F” as compared to 0 percent of the 11 OPSB charter schools graded;
• Of the RSD students attending direct-run schools with letter grades, 100 percent, or 5,422, are attending schools with assigned letter grades of either “D” or “F";
• Of the RSD students attending charter schools assigned a letter grade, 76 percent ,or 15,040, are attending schools with assigned grades of either “D” or “F".