There is only one problem with the Louisiana Recovery District model. It does not work! In fact when Louisiana tried to expand its own Recovery District beyond the New Orleans school system, the result can only be described as a clear failure.
After 4 years, out of the twelve schools taken over by the state RSD and converted to charters outside of New Orleans, all of them are still rated “F”, and on average have declined slightly instead of improving. But not only have the schools declined academically, enrollment has dropped by an average of 39%. See the linked spreadsheet. So when Governor Jindal touts the success of parental choice, it must be recognized that many parents are “choosing” to pull their children out of the State sponsored choice charter schools!
So how could the news out of Louisiana have been so wrong? How could an entire nationwide model for school reform be based on a failing program? How could Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst organization have rated Louisiana as number one in the nation in providing the best education reforms for the benefit of children? How could the highly touted “Chiefs for Change” have chosen the Louisiana Recovery School District as a model for reform across the nation? How could former State Superintendent Pastorek under whose watch the RSD was developed be headlined around the country along with Rhee as one of the heroes of successful school reform?
It's actually hard to believe that in a country that prides itself in having a news media that provides for fact checking of bogus claims by both government and private business that so much misinformation could continue to influence public policy. The fact is that the corporate reform advocates have put out a story about Louisiana's Recovery District that is 100% spin and and most of the media have swallowed it. I guess everyone is hoping so much for a miracle solution to low achievement by our at-risk schools that we are willing to believe a totally bogus story of success. It is the classic rainmaker scam, where the people wish so hard for a miracle that we can be easily taken in by the charlatans.
Maybe the scam of the privatizers worked because the New Orleans Recovery District experienced such great success with its charters. Actually based on the facts, I don't see how the New Orleans charters can be portrayed as a success of any kind. See this recent analysis of the New Orleans Recovery District by Charles Hatfield of Research on Reforms.
I keep expecting the truth to come out. The miracle results of school reform have not happened in Louisiana!