Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Retroactive Immunity for Reckless Charterization

This is why the pilot schools model is better than what was force fed to this city like it was the end all be all of education reform policy.

Key words: oversight, accountability

Isn't that exactly why the educational reform movement got started in the first place?

Bonus: The local chapter of the teacher's union is toothless and pathetic. Seems to me that they've got to secure a date for the restoration of collective bargaining rights, even if they have to compromise on the length of the wait.


Anonymous Education Blogger said...

I think what you are pointing to in regard to New Orleans charter schools is a problem with the creation and implementation of an accountability and oversight system, and not with the rationale behind the charter school movement. Site-based management plans, like Pilot Schools in Boston (or the autonomous districts in New York City) can and do work, but are also dependent on a strong system of oversight and accountability which don’t automatically follow. This is not a problem unique to charters or to traditional public schools. These sorts of decentralization reforms are cyclical and have generally failed to radically improve schools at scale in the past. (You should check out Diane Ravitch’s very brief history of school governance in New York City for an overview.)

E said...

I'm not pointing to the rationale behind the original charter school movement. I am pointing to the implementation of charterization here in Orleans Parish, which I think was done recklessly.

Our balkanized charterization is inherently less accountable than any pilot system, which calls for greater district oversight by definition.

Anonymous Education Blogger said...

I don't think our charter system is inherently less accountable. It's less accountable now than it should be, but this isn't a problem inherent to the system at all. It's a problem with the creation and implementation of sufficient accountability plan, which it seems the state recognizes and is attempting to fix. Which isn't to say that they will do it well, if at all.

I'm certainly not an apologist for charter schools and the way that they came to dominate the system here after Katrina. I recognize the problems that they continue to have, as well as the evidence that resources (and special education students) are not equitably distributed across charter and traditional schools, or across RSD and OPSB schools.

I see charters and pilot school programs and other forms of decentralization and site-based management as existing on a continuum. All of these schemes move budgeting, human capital decisions, and other operations related decisions down to the school level.

Oversight and accountability and all the other things we look for are not inherent to any of these structures, though the rhetoric that guides the reforms may claim that it is. Nor does the research demonstrate that any of these types of reforms are universally more successful that the other in holding schools accountable for achievement. You'll find examples of success and failure for each of them.

I think it's no longer an argument about what works better, charter schools, traditional schools, or pilot/autonomous schools because we aren't going to come away with an answer. We need to start creating accountability and oversight systems for the schools we have now, as well as assigning autonomy to schools that want it and that have a strong leader that can maximize the benefits.

E said...

I still believe the lack of accountability was indeed inherent to the haphazard way in which we set up our charter system.

But to your larger point: that doesn't mean it's can't be corrected without starting the system over once more. I certainly don't think that's a workable option.