Saturday, August 27, 2011

Education Advocates to Rally for Real Reform on Katrina Anniversary

From the TribuneTalk website:
Pointing to the fate of John McDonogh Senior High as just one example of the failed policies and broken promises of the Recovery School District, several organizations and education advocates have organized a rally and are encouraging others concerned about the right of every New Orleans public school student to have “real recovery, real reform, real improvement and real choice in their schools” to join them.

Members of the John McDonogh Alumni Association, Parents Across America NOLA, the Downtown Neighborhood Improvement Association, and the Esplanade Ridge/Treme Civic Association will join students, teachers, parents and community members at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 29 in front of John McDonogh High School, 2426 Esplanade Ave. to commemorate the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and to review the state of public education in New Orleans.

“We will be asking hard questions about the ways charter schools have negatively affected our children and about the scandals and failures of charter schools and RSD-run schools,” organizers say. “Together we will assert our right to a democratic voice in how schools are rebuilt, what schools are rebuilt, and who runs the schools in our communities. We will look at the betrayal of public trust in the past six years as the RSD has held community meetings, promised public engagement and then disregarded the wishes of parents and stake-holders again and again.”

John McDonogh High School serves as one example of the contention between those concerned about the direction of the current reform movement in local public education and Recovery School District which continues to push that movement under new leader John White.

At John McDonogh, many alumni, parents and community members have expressed disappointment and outrage at the RSD decision to place an alternative charter school on the John McDonogh campus. Despite vehement objections to the plan, the Renew Charter Management Organization was given the OK to open a program for over-aged students this school year on the first floor of the school.

Meanwhile, parents and alumni are concerned about the uncertain fate of the school—one of the few traditional, direct-run schools in the RSD. Some supporters of the campus believe it has been neglected on purpose both academically and with regard to facility upgrades to make it easier to turn the school over to a charter operator or to ultimately close it altogether.

And while the John McDonogh campus is gathering site for the assembly, the Monday rally is designed to bring attention to a wide range of local education issues, organizers say.

“We will examine the false choices that the school district has offered parents and children and the way school choice has divided schools from their communities and from parental oversight and involvement. We will condemn the political influence, waste and lack of foresight that has characterized the rebuilding and renovations of schools thus far and demand a fair, equitable and transparent process going forward. We will expose RSD’s deliberate and systematic neglect of certain schools to justify takeover and closure. We will stand up to save John McDonogh and all our schools from autocratic decisions made by unelected, out-of-touch and out-of-town administrators.”

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Marie Owens said...
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