Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Schools Master Plan Hearing at City Council

According to Councilwoman Hedge-Morrell, today's crowd was likely the largest to have ever attended an council education committee hearing. There was indeed pretty substantial turnout, considering the relative lack of attention called to the event and the fact that it was called at 10 AM on a Wednesday.

Comment was 100% in opposition of the master plan and came from groups representing schools from all over the city. Councilwomen Head and Hedge-Morrell each expressed pointed criticisms of their own.

State Senator Cheryl Gray came to speak out against the closure of schools in her district. Our BESE representative Louella Givens came to speak out as well, and introduced her BESE colleague who was also in attendance. This other person mostly stood awkwardly on the side of the room. His name is James Garvey and he recently refused to condemn LaBruzzo's eugenics bill to the Times-Picayune. (Just so you know)

Unfortunately, the public was grouped by school affiliation so educational advocates wishing to express concerns with the very structure of the master plan, including OPSB candidates Percy Marchand and Amy LaFont had to wait until the end of the hearing, by which point the room was largely empty.

The deadline for the public comment period remains midnight tonight. OPSB President Torin Sanders went on the record pledging to introduce a motion at tomorrow's OPSB meeting that would allow for more public comment, but he is under no legal or political obligation to do so, as he is not running for reelection.

Paul Vallas was there today and repeatedly made the ridiculous claim that Congress would pull funding for New Orleans schools if this were not approved quickly. But remember that the master plan was delayed for months by the consultant planners themselves.

(Also, I'd always thought that Vallas was not really involved in the master planning process, that this was Pastorek's thing. Pastorek was not present. Steven Bingler, the man hired to put together the master plan did not speak.)

Ultimately, there was no resolution of any particular grievance - either with the master plan or with the voting timeline.

So it appears as though the rubber stamp freight train remains on schedule.

That's sad. This is a bad document.

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