Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Battle Continues Over Future of New Orleans Public Schools

While most media coverage of New Orleans schools depicts the post-Katrina changes as a success story, community activists continue to raise concerns. The sudden transformation, including the firing of thousands of teachers and other staff; taking away recognition of the teacher's union; and the state's seizing of most schools, followed by a swift change to a mostly-charter system; have led to a school system radically different from the system of five years ago. But are these changes for the better?

Many former employees don't see it that way, and are still fighting back. Associated Press reports today that the class-action lawsuit filed in response to the mass-firings of school staff is continuing to move forward:
Louisiana's Supreme Court has declined to get in the way of a class action lawsuit fighting the dismissal of New Orleans public school employees following Hurricane Katrina. The suit alleges the school workers were wrongfully terminated after most of the city was flooded following the 2005 storm. The suit was filed by several of the fired employees. The Orleans school board and the state agency that took over many of the city's schools are defendants in the suit, which has yet to go to trial. In 2008, a state judge granted class-action status, meaning all of the fired employees could be covered by the suit. An appeal court agreed last year and the Supreme Court decided not to intervene last week. Attorneys estimate as many as 8,500 fired employees are affected.

Community activists are also involved. Tomorrow, an organization calling itself Citizens for Local Control (CLC) has organized a community meeting on the issue, asking what effect the changes in the school system has had on our community. The organization lists a wide range of issues to be discussed, including:
-The privatization of public finds for education.
-A lack of accountability for charter schools.
-A lack of special education services.
-The false notion of school choice.
-Former school buildings being turned into homes instead of community centers.
-The lack of a plan for the return of schools to the Orleans parish School Boards.
The meeting will be tomorrow: Thursday, March 12, from 5:30pm – 7:30pm, at the Central City Renaissance Alliance, 1809 Oretha Castle Haley. All parents, youth, former Orleans Parish teachers, and concerned citizens are invited.

Citizens for Local Control, the sponsors of the meeting, say their mission is "To restore democracy, access and fairness within the local system and network of schools in New Orleans; by organizing for local accountability and control of New Orleans Public Schools." For more information call 504-655-3515.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

Is there going to be another meeting? I saw this too late.