|At many N.O. charter schools, including Sci Academy, plenty of teachers last for less than two years.|
Here's the real deal on New Orleans charter schools as documented by Daily Beast/Newsweek writer Andrea Gabor. No, they're definitely not the panacea Arne Duncan claimed they were. For one thing, they were started on a faulty and racist premise -- that young, white, inexperienced teachers were better for the predominantly-African-American N.O. students, than older, black veteran teachers.
After the storm, the state fired the city’s unionized teachers, who were mostly middle-aged African-Americans, an action that has been challenged in court. While a few schools have hired back teachers who worked in the pre-Katrina schools, the city now relies heavily on inexperienced educators—mostly young, white, and from out of town—who are willing, at least in the short run, to put in grueling hours. But at many schools, including Sci Academy, plenty of teachers last for less than two years. In New Orleans, teachers with certifications from Teach for America number close to 400, five times the level a few years ago. Within the RSD, in 2011, 42 percent of teachers had less than three years of experience; 22 percent have spent just one year or less in the classroom, according to “The State of Public Education in New Orleans,” a 2012 report by the pro-charter Cowen Institute at Tulane University.Gabor's piece goes on from there to reveal the way N.O. charters, under the pressure of current testing policies, combined with the broad leeway given to charter schools to suspend and expel students, means the “difficult to teach” kids have been effectively abandoned.
“New ideas on how to teach disruptive and unmotivated students have not emerged from charter schools,” charges Barbara Ferguson, a former superintendent of public schools in New Orleans and a founder of Research on Reforms. “Whether the difficult-to-teach high school students are expelled by charter schools or whether they attended schools closed by the RSD, they are an outcast group, thrown into an abyss ... Neither the RSD nor the state Department of Education tracks these students to determine if they ever enter another high school.”