The End Of Neighborhood Schools

Anya Kamenetz, Sept 03, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

So I found this interesting, especially the way the discussion looked at two major aspects of the New Orleans school reform: first, the conversion of the system to public to private charter schools (and consequent firing and de-unionization of the school system), and second, the conversion from neighborhood schools to a city-wide system that offers choice. Well - sort of choice, since admission is by lottery and funding is such that there are really only a few good schools everyone is trying to get into. But it reminded me of the school system in Edmonton, where they managed to achieve the same degree of choice, without firing all the teachers and privatizing the system - and where they are producing some of the best graduates in the world (as measured eg. by PISA) and not a C-grade average. Creating choice and diversity, I think, helps - but if you destroy the system of public education, you undermine any benefit you may have attained. Meanwhile, the flood of charitable money that propped up the privatized system in the early years, the test score improvements are looking a little hollow, and the sheen is coming off the NOLA rose.

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