The New Orleans Tribune has a devastating piece of editorial commentary, “Faking the Grade,” based on local reporting and test scores, that lays bare the depiction of the charterization of New Orleans public schools 12 years ago as a miracle of the “school reform” movement.

Charter school operators made unrealistic promises to seize control of the schools (and the tax money that flows into them). Now the results in the eyes of the Tribune, an African-American community magazine:


As we looked over the 2017 school performance data, one thing was clear—Orleans Parish will be getting back schools that aren’t much better than the ones taken over 12 years ago in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In other words, the reform was a ruse. And this subterfuge has cost us dearly.

But we knew that already. Didn’t you? We said that. We wrote about it.

Numbers don’t lie. And year after the year, the numbers were telling the story. We’re just journalists over here—not a statistician among us. But all we had to do was look at the annual SPS reports to know that this “reform” was failing. Year after year, the school performance report cards filled with Cs, Ds, Fs and SPS scores so low that would not have held up in the fall of 2005.

There’s much more and it’s worth reading in Arkansas, and Little Rock in particular. They are talking in New Orleans about some kind of return of “local control” to New Orleans schools in the form of an elected supervisory board, but not sending the private charter school operators packing. They’ll still be reaping benefits from public tax dollars with none of the rigor of rules imposed on real public schools. Chaos in school assignments will likely continue. Some schools will skim cream. Some schools will fail children. But there will be almighty “choice,” as if that alone is a guarantee of quality. What the Walton-paid lackeys in Arkansas have spent millions selling like laundry detergent is not always so.  Parents are not always equipped to evaluate schools. This is no surprise to anyone who’s ever read a file about families in need of services. Basic care, never mind education, is often lacking in all too many families.

The Waltons tried once to pass legislation that would have allowed Little Rock — and eventually other school districts — to be declared “opportunity” school districts, or some such euphemism, and opened up for takeover by private operators. Denied that legislation, the Waltonites have proceeded to finance thousands of new charter school seats in Little Rock, sometimes propping up schools with cash infusions to keep regulators at bay. The slow erosion of real public schools — predicted by Baker Kurrus during his brave and short leadership of the district — continues.


Inevitably the aim of the Billionaire Boys Club of Arkansas is to make Little Rock another New Orleans “Miracle.”

The data-based New Orleans Tribune editorial might make you cross such a miracle off your wish list. It includes background on the handful of schools in New Orleans that ARE doing well — typically selective admission schools with enhanced programs and such advantages as admission preference for Tulane faculty.


It is no miracle when children of highly educated middle- and upper-class parents do well in school.