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Conservatively liberal, moderately well-educated, and highly opinionated...

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Enough With the Roadblocks! Open the Schools!

Evidently, the Louisiana Legislature has gotten the message. People are absolutely fed up with the old ways – at least in terms of schools in New Orleans. Whether tomorrow will be significantly better won’t be known for some time; certainly, though, it will be different.

The State isn’t just taking on the failing schools, either. The House accepted an amendment to roll up all of them. That’s probably just as well, because although there were apparently eleven schools that did perform (only 11?????), leaving anything out of the larger plan was only going to enable the continuing patterns of petty politics.

Speaking of which – I’m having some trouble understanding
Rep. Carter’s Bill, which has also passed the House.

Carter has been vocally opposed to the way the Algiers Charter School Association was set up last month, arguing that it is improper for the members of the Orleans Parish School Board to be on the group's board of directors. A charter school typically is independent from the local school bureaucracy and school board members would not normally serve on the charter organization.
Under ordinary circumstances, I would probably agree with her. Ideally, there would be a clean break, here and now, with the past. However, as appallingly inept and counter-productive the current School Board has proven itself, somebody has to fill the seats of the new Algiers Charter Schools Association board until they can be replaced. Holding up the re-opening dates – again – would be criminal (imho). December 14 is bad enough already. The better idea would be to get some hard and fast timelines in place to seat a new, untarnished board.

But Rep. Jim Tucker, R-Algiers, who worked with his local School Board member to incorporate the organization last month, said the group is just acting to get schools up as soon as possible with $20.9 million in federal money specifically earmarked for charter schools. The School Board members will eventually roll off the charter membership and community leaders will take their places, he said.

"I think it is a mistake to do this," Tucker said after the House Judiciary Committee voted 8-0 to approve Carter's bill, sending it to the House floor for consideration. "It is a blatant attempt to try to keep schools from opening in the charter mode."

Rep. Carter would apparently like to see more community involvement. Me, too… but until folks can come back and get their kids in school, she’s just throwing up more roadblocks (well-intentioned though they may be). If this temporary charter board impedes progress at all, then they should just be ousted wholesale. (Does zero-tolerance apply to anyone but the kids?)

In the meantime, let’s open those schools!