Sunday, March 31, 2013

Parents and Educators Object to LDOE Takeover Policies

Please click on this link to view an open letter written to New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu, Steve Barr and the Oprah Winfrey Network by the John McDonogh advisory committee. I believe this advisory committee is made up of dedicated community leaders who would like to see a much better future for the students of John McDonogh High School. Their letter expresses legitimate concerns about the unfair negative depiction of the school by the Mayor, and more recently by the OWN network. The advisory committee members also object to charter operator Steve Barr using incorrect statistics to attempt to show false progress since he took control of the school. My opinion is that this entire incident is just one of many examples of the misuse of at risk students by non educators and con men who wish to profit personally at the expense of the students.

Another Good School Closed As a Result of Misguided Reforms
The following is a letter by the highly qualified principal of Delmont Elem in the EBR school system who is appalled to see her school closed by her local school system because of the threat of a takeover by the State Recovery School District. This is the same RSD that allows non educators like Steve Barr to take over public schools and convert them into charter schools that often exploit the children and our tax dollars.

Our State Department of Education is so anxious to take over schools that they wanted to take over this school after only a year and a half of a federally funded turn-around effort even though a commitment had been made to allow the reorganization of the school to have three years to show progress. All of the other schools taken over by the state and converted to charters in this school system have been total failures.

I had visited Delmont Elem. near the end of its first year of the turnaround project, and can attest to the fact that it was being run in a highly professional manner. Children were learning, and the school was on a pathway to major improvement. This is just one more of the many vital schools serving needy children being closed all over the country by the corporate reformers.

We Taught Them Hope
Last week our school board voted to close our school as a PreK – 5 elementary school and “repurpose” it as a PreK Center. They were convinced that John White and the state would take us over because our test scores didn’t come up fast enough (we’ve only had a year and a half). Okay, so maybe our test scores didn’t hit the mark yet, but we did a lot of teaching:

  1. We taught them HOPE – hope that they could rise to the standard, go above what they thought they could do, and make a better life for themselves.
  2. We taught them RESPECT – for themselves, for each other, and for school faculty and staff. They learned to say “yes sir” and “yes maam” and “May I use the restroom?” They opened doors for adults, and knocked before entering a room.
  3. We taught them LOVE – children who previously had trouble looking us in the eye or talking with us were now giving us hugs and telling us all about their weekends. And they learned to love each other, doing kind things for one another.
  4. We taught them HEALTH – by providing healthy fruit and vegetable snacks, growing a vegetable garden, and embracing the healthy lifestyle approach taught by the staff of the Big Blue Bus.
  5. We taught them how to CELEBRATE – to rejoice in an accomplishment, to applaud for classmates, and to appreciate the talents and skills of every individual.
  6. We taught them to PERSEVERE – when a math problem was complicated, or an answer to a science inquiry wasn’t readily apparent. To stick with a task all the way through, because sometimes the satisfaction is in knowing that you did your very best.
  7. We taught them RESILIENCE – that when things don’t go as planned, the test trips you up, or your friends turn their back – you keep going with your head up. Our students will use this skill as they leave Delmont and encounter new learning environments.
  8. We taught them PRIDE – that we can be proud of who we are and how far we’ve come. We can stand in front of people with our heads held high, because we know we’ve done our very best.
  9. We taught them HUMOR – that we can laugh at ourselves and each other when things get ridiculous. That a good laugh breaks the tension in the room, and that laughing truly is the best medicine.
  10. We taught them COMMUNITY – that all of us need to work together to get better, and that all of us collectively are more than one. That the strength in each of us is only as much as the rest can bear, and that together we are very strong indeed.
As our school is closed at the end of this year, we hope that our students will take these qualities with them into whatever situations they now encounter. We will miss each and every one of them…

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