After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was shock doctrined through a massive, neoliberal transformation, the centerpiece of which was a replacement of the public school system with a system entirely made up of charter schools.
While these schools showed some initial promise, the overall performance of these schools has been in free fall for some time, and this year's state assessment of the district assigned a "failing grade" (D or F) to 35 of its 72 schools.
Charter advocates blame changes to the assessment system and point out that the public system that New Orleans had before also performed poorly. They also say their schools are improving, pointing to a new metric — year on year test score improvements — as evidence that the schools are getting better.
In the absence of extraordinary board action, prolonged failing grades for charter schools trigger automatic shutdown or absorbtion into better-performing schools.
State Education Superintendent John White agreed.
"New Orleans schools have made remarkable gains over the last decade, with stagnation in recent years," White said. "To reignite the pace of improvement, New Orleans schools will need to develop a strong pipeline of future school leaders, retain educators for longer periods of time, and support teachers in using the most challenging curricula, even with struggling students."
Although it's difficult to extrapolate citywide trends, there are some patterns in the data.
Schools in both big and little charter organizations got D's and F's. Some organizations saw major changes. FirstLine Schools, which got D grades for four of its six schools, and Success Preparatory, which also earned a D, got new leaders. Others absorbed students relocated from elsewhere, and many adopted new curricula.
Four other F-rated schools had already closed by the time the grades came out.
Nearly half of New Orleans' all-charter district schools got D or F grades; What happens next? [Della Hasselle/The Times-Picayune]
(via Naked Capitalism)