Most of the public schools in New Orleans are charter schools. Those schools are widely credited with helping improve education in the city after Katrina.
But the city still has five traditional public schools that are run by the Orleans Parish School Board.
The OPSB though could be open to changing that. Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. sent out a statement on Friday saying that the OPSB has gotten some interest by charter groups into taking all five of them over.
From The Advocate:
Charter schools, which are publicly funded but run by private nonprofit groups, have already largely taken over public education in New Orleans.
The School Board authorized the city’s first charter in 1998, and the state-run Recovery School District, which took over most of the city’s schools after Hurricane Katrina, gradually converted the dozens of traditional schools under its purview into charters over the course of nearly a decade.
Those schools are now scheduled to come back under the jurisdiction of the Orleans Parish School Board, thanks to an act of the Legislature, but their status as charters and their independence have been cemented in law.
Supporters of the charter movement give credit for rising test scores to the flexibility these schools have in establishing their own policies and operating without unionized teachers.
Detractors see charters as a movement to privatize public education and question whether they have really improved academic results as much as advertised.
Among the detractors are Louisiana’s teachers’ unions who will not be pleased by these developments. For starters, these charters have no use for them. They don’t have unionized teachers and if teachers don’t perform, they’re fired.
Not only do charter schools not have to do deal with teachers’ unions, they’re held accountable for academic performance. If a school does not certain academic standards, the company or group that runs the schools can be fired. Try firing a failed government school.
With traditional government schools, students are assigned schools based on where they live. But with charter schools, students can pick they school they want to go to. This provides more options for students and parents to meet their educational needs.
If New Orleans is successful with an all-charter school district, other cities across the country might decide to copy that model. That makes a huge dent in the numbers of unionized teachers and the kids might even be better off.
Look for the teachers’ unions to try and fight this in the legislative session next year.