When school starts in New Orleans next year, all of the schools will be charters. The district's 33,000 students will have to apply for a seat at one of 58 charter schools in the country's first all-charter system.
This is a triumph for the forces of corporate, anti-union reform, for the forces of profit making. It is a blow to public education in the country.
This experiment is being built on the wreckage caused by Hurricane Katrina. This culturally and economically important majority Black city in Louisiana was changed forever—not necessarily by the hurricane itself but by the U.S. government's disinterested, racist attitude toward actually addressing the needs of the population following the destruction. The relief effort was botched. And then business forces saw an opportunity—to gentrify and redefine New Orleans.
This approach extended to public schools in the city. Just after Hurricane Katrina, the state took control of 102 schools and placed them under the control of the Recovery School District (the district that just shuttered the public schools). The district had a plan: privatize the schools. The city has spent and is spending billions on the school building renovations then turning them over to independent charter school operators for FREE.
The remaining 15 were left to the control of the Orleans Parish School Board. What did they do? Fire 7,000 mostly African American employees and replace them with younger inexperienced mostly white, mainly Teach for America, teachers.
The entire operation was a cheap trick enacted to carry out the desires of a broader corporate reform agenda to destroy public education.
For New Orleans, the result has been a segregated, profoundly unequal system overseen by independent charter school operators who answer to no public institution. They answer to shareholders and funders. That's it.
In New Orleans, there are high quality charter schools and there are poor quality charter schools. Who attend the former? Mostly white and wealthier students. Who attends the latter? Mostly Black and all working class, poorer students. How do they maintain this segregated system? The better charter schools are overseen by the Orleans Parish School board and don't participate in the computerized placement lottery.
But the move to an entirely charter district for the first time in the nation has implications beyond those in New Orleans too.
And it's been tried before.
Read the full article at Liberation News