At education summit, opponents protest success of charter schools in New Orleans

By Yaël Ossowski | Watchdog.org

Charter schools in New Orleans have enjoyed growing popular support
over the years, but at least one group is hoping to quell the praise for
reforms.

The Dignity in Schools Campaign, a nonprofit group against
zero-tolerance behavior policies in schools, brought their protest signs
to the American Federation for Children Policy Summit held in New
Orleans over the weekend to demonstrate their opposition to the charter
schools servicing the local community.

“(Dignity in Schools Campaign) members are in #NOLA taking action
against American Federation for Children’s National Policy Summit,”
reads the caption on a photo from their Instagram feed. “Privatizing education is not the answer.”

The main issue at hand is they believe in a fully funded public
school system and the weakening of charter schools, which now represent
close to 90 percent of New Orleans’ public schools.

“We would prefer that funding would be kept in the public school system,” said organizer Gina Womack to the Times-Picayune newspaper.

Former senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman made an
appearance at the summit, as well as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a
current candidate for the GOP presidential primary.

On hand to speak at the conference were a number of black educational and school choice groups
who discussed the positive transformation of New Orleans’ schools,
something upheld by the majority of public school parents according to a
new poll.

That’s the result of an extensive survey released this week by the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane University and the New Orleans Advocate.

A full 59 percent of people agree the introduction of charter schools
in the New Orleans parish has improved education while 13 percent
disagreed.

Over 72 percent support giving parents the opportunity to enroll their child at any school in the city.

Also important to demonstrate in this survey is the impact these schools have had in the wake of the devastation brought by Hurricane Katrina in 2004.

“A plurality of respondents believed that schools are better now than
before Hurricane Katrina and would recommend New Orleans public schools
to a friend or family member,” state the researchers.

The telephone study was conducted with 600 adults between April 7-14
and 60 percent of respondents were African American. It has a margin of
error of 4.1 percent.

With the highest proportion of charter schools in the country with 75
of its 82 public schools administered under charters, the case of New
Orleans offers an example to other school districts around the country
who are ambivalent about accepting new charters.

Just this week, the New Orleans Parish School Board approved two new charter schools due to open next year.

Yaël Ossowski is an international consumer activist and writer. His writings and interviews have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and online outlets across the world in multiple languages. He is founder and editor of Devolution Review, deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, and senior development officer for Students For Liberty. He was previously a national investigative reporter at Watchdog.org. He has a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE) from the CEVRO Institute in Prague and a Bachelor's in Political Science from Concordia University, Montreal. He currently splits his time between Vienna, Austria and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Website https://yael.ca
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