Monday, February 11, 2013

No Panacea in Louisiana Model; Take Action Now

The plot thickens in regard to Delegate Habeeb’s HB 2096 and Senator McDougle’s SB 1324. These are the two bills that adopt Louisiana’s post-Katrina strategy for state takeover of underperforming schools. We have been told by former Secretary of Education Jim Dyke, and others, that they went to New Orleans to find out how to fix Virginia’s schools. That would be funny if these guys weren’t serious. Virginia’s schools are the 4th best in the nation. It would make sense to go to Maryland, Massachusetts or New York, states that rank above Virginia. Instead, they went to New Orleans, which is the education trouble-spot in 15th ranked Louisiana. AND did I mention that Mr. Dyke lobbies for Edison, a corporation that stands to profit if these bills pass?

It seems that the Virginia delegation to New Orleans was snowed. Should the bills pass in Virginia, we’ll have Opportunity Education Institutions (OEI). In Louisiana they are called Recovery School Districts (RSD). Well guess what: Despite buckets full of post-Katrina dollars—dollars we won’t have in Virginia—the Recovery School District is failing. Check out this chart.

As Mary Jo Fields of the Virginia Municipal League points out, “This district has been under operation since 2003 and was designed to take over failing schools, but 45 of 60 are still failing. No A's and only 8 B's & C's.”

What’s the impact of RSD on real people? Read this article to see.

I'll close by paraphrasing Dr. David L. Kirp, of the University of California, who has just written an excellent op-ed published in the New York Times about the hard work of turning schools around. Officials flock to New Orleans, eager for a quick fix. But they’re on a fool’s errand. If you really care about turning the underperforming schools in Virginia around, these bills are not the answer. But, if you care about corporate balance sheets, this is the ticket.

Take Action Now!

  • Please click here to send a message to your Delegate urging him/her to vote against SB 934 and SB 1324.
  • Please click here to send a message to your Senator urging him/her to vote against HB 2096.