Quietly Downplaying the Success of the Louisiana Recovery School District: Implications for Georgia

Mercedes Schneider posted an article on her website suggesting that the Louisiana Recovery School District (RSD) is not what it’s cracked up to be.

Georgia parents will find her reporting important in the context of Georgia Governor Deal’s Opportunity School District which is modeled on the Louisiana RSD.

In Dr. Schneider’s article, entitled New Orleans Recovery School District Proponents Now Offer a Disclaimer, she offers a warning to Georgians to be wary of Nathan Deal’s proclamation that what struggling schools in Georgia need is a charter school model that will be outsourced to charter management companies who will promise, no matter what, to raise student test scores.  That’s all.  Raise test scores.

Problem.  In 10 years, the Louisiana RSD has not be very successful raising student test scores.

In fact, Dr. Schneider highlights the backtracking that the corporate reform proponents are now talking about.  She cites an article in Politico, and I repeat part of it here:

The results aren’t all great, though. The average ACT score for the high school class of 2014 in the state’s Recovery School District, created to take over failing schools statewide before the storm – was 16.4 – considerably below the minimum score required for admission to a four-year public college in Louisiana. Others note that school quality is uneven, political dysfunction endures and allegations of civil rights violations persist. Critics say that parents’ voices have been shut out. All in all, analysts say that despite the enthusiasm for the portfolio strategy used in New Orleans and elsewhere, there isn’t much evidence to prove whether it’s working or not.

This is not the kind of analysis that Governor Deal and Georgia Assembly want to hear.  Well, they are going to hear about it.

In the next 18 months, we will investigate the “recovery” school concept, and show that it might not be in the interests of students who have not performed well on Georgia’s standardized tests.

One of the resolutions (Senate Resolution 287) that passed both houses of the Georgia Assembly that will enable the Governor to form a recovery school district in our state will be on the November 2016 ballot.  We need to advocate for the defeat of this ballot initiative, and do what we can to offer the evidence and reasoning why the Opportunity School District is nothing more than an opportunity to make some folks very wealthy.  And it is not the kids who will forced into the OSD.


About Jack Hassard

Jack Hassard is a writer, a former high school teacher, and Professor Emeritus of Science Education, Georgia State University.