Paul Vallas Writes on AJC Blog Praising the Georgia Opportunity School District. Is He Looking for a Job?

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Paul Vallas Writes on AJC Blog Praising the Georgia Opportunity School District. Is He Looking for a Job?

Update:  I received a tweet from Lindamarie via Twitter that linked to an article about Paul Villas and the Bridgeport School District in which he was superintendent.  It’s a stinging indictment of Villas and the reform movement he headed.  It’s a must read.

Last week, Maureen Downey ran an article entitled Former NOLA School Leader: Georgia Did the Right Thing) on her AJC blog, Get Schooled, written by one of the key architects of Louisiana’s recovery school district. Now a consultant with the Chicago-based DSI Civic (a financial restructuring company) , Paul Vallas served as Superintendent of the Louisiana Recovery School District from 2007-2011. He was also Superintendent in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Downey explained that Vallas received a few question about his article lauding Governor Nathan Deal’s plan to privatize Georgia’s failing schools by turning them into charter schools–the go-to solution for whatever politicians think will solve the fabricated crisis in our schools.

I find Downey’s uncritical portrayal of Villas’ ideas surprising and disappointing.  On one day she will publish articles written by Georgia researchers pointing out the untruths and problems about the Opportunity School District, and how it will harm public education in Georgia, but then on the day that the House approved the Governors’ Opportunity plan,  she published the Vallas article praising the plan.  Why not ask people in Georgia to write about the OSD, such as Professor Stephanie Jones of Policy Studies at UGA,  an activist scholar specializing in school reform, or Professor Kristen Buras, professor of Policy studies at UGA., who done extensive research on NO Recovery School District, and articulates research based finding contrary to reports about the New Orleans experiment.

But, no.  She asks Paul Vallas, a Chicago consultant who left his job as superintendent of the Bridgeport, Connecticut school district, to write an article about the Georgia Opportunity School District.

Larry Cuban, Emeritus Professor at Stanford, sees Paul Vallas as a “sprinter” type of superintendent.  Sprinters come in fast, take swift actions, and exit quickly.  Vallas, instead of being the marathon type of superintendent who takes time to think through problems of school change, and is deliberate and not confrontational, was in and out of four different school districts, including New Orleans.

His latest stint was superintendent of the Bridgeport, Connecticut school district.  What Downey doesn’t tell us is that Vallas was challenged and sued by Connecticut officials because he did not have certification to be superintendent of a public school system.  He signed up for an online course, and supposedly passed, but was still sued.  His case went to the Connecticut Supreme court, which ruled in Vallas’ favor only because of a procedural mistake.  Some  complainants charged that Vallas was given preferential treatment by having certification requirements waived by the state.

And the case get even messier.   Vallas was not hired by the local school district, but by a state appointed board.  This is exactly what will happen in Georgia.  The Georgia superintendent of the Opportunity School District, much like the Vallas’ of the neoliberal reform world, will not be selected by elected local officials, but by a state group of appointees.  Appointees of the Governor.  Former Connecticut judge Carmen Lopez, who filed the case against Vallas, did so because Vallas was imposed on the Bridgeport School District.  Ms. Lopez put it this way:

“Paul Vallas was imposed on the city,” she said. “Then we find out that he lacks something as basic as having certification.
“There is a movement in this country to change education as we know it, and you start that where people are vulnerable,” she said. “There’s never any discussion with the people, who are looked on as incompetent. … The only recourse we have is the court.”

Sprinter type superintendents such as Paul Vallas, or Michelle Rhee act in similar and predictable ways by eroding the integrity of the “turnaround”  school district, and later deposit mud when they exit the school district as quickly as possible.

I wonder.  Is Vallas jockeying for the job of Superintendent of the Opportunity School district?

He certainly has the experience, and Governor Deal recently visited Vallas’ former school district, the New Orleans Recovery School District.

 

In the next post, I will analyze the “great ideas” that Vallas wrote as a reply to readers about the pat on the back for the bad deal that Georgia’s “chronically failing schools were dealt.

 

 

Stop the Louisiana Style Take Over of Georgia’s Struggling School Communities

Ted Terry, State Campaign Director, Georgia AFL-CIO and I have been communicating about the plan being proposed by Governor Deal to take over Georgia’s “failing” schools by implementing a Louisiana style state-wide recovery school district.  Ted Terry is organizing a campaign that we all should support to fight against this take over by the state of schools that need direct assistance community wide, and not becoming a charter school run by corporate charter companies that will be interested in only one thing: making a profit on the backs of the students by indoctrinating them with a diet of worksheets and drill and practice to get ready for tests that will be used to decide the school’s profitability.

Oh, and if they really use the Louisiana Recovery School plan, there is a very good chance that many teachers will be fired (surely the principal will be ousted), and replaced with teachers from America’s top temp agencies: Teach for America and The New Teacher Project.

Research by Professor Kristin Buras of Georgia State University shows that experienced teachers in New Orleans were replaced with non-certified and inexperienced teachers.  The average number of years of experience for many of the New Orleans school in Recovery Project is very close to 1 (one).   Do you want that for Georgia schools?

So, here is some material prepared by Ted Terry.  I urge you to use this information, and the link below to take action on Governor Deal’s plan to take over Georgia’s struggling schools.

Subject: Send a letter: STOP Louisiana Style School Takeover Scheme

I wrote a letter for the Action Network letter campaign “STOP Louisiana Style School Takeover Scheme”.

Politicians in Atlanta have cut billions from local school districts for over a decade. This has resulted in larger class sizes, teacher furloughs, and an increased property tax burden. Nathan Deal was just elected to a second term, as Governor — now he is proposing that he also become the education Czar of Georgia by holding the power to put schools on a list that could be taken over by central command, in downtown Atlanta at the Twin Towers.

This Louisiana style school takeover scheme would give a special set of bureaucrats in Atlanta, appointed by the Executive Branch, the power to declare your local school or school district “failing” and then take it over. This simply is a bad deal for schools that are put on a failing list based on uncertain and fluctuating “data” points, that sets up some schools for failure, according to the state’s definition of failure.

There is no disagreement about the importance of turning around so-called failing schools. However the scheme that the Governor is proposing simply has been shown to be the wrong approach. After nine years in New Orleans, Louisiana, only 4 of the 107 schools taken over by the Recovery School District score above the state average. Please email (right side —>) your State Senator and State Representative today. Tell them to vote NO on Senate Bill 133.

Can you join me and write a letter? Click here.

The work being done by Ted Terry is important and crucial to defeat this unjust plan.

Hurricane Katrina: A Citizen Resource

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina was beyond belief, and might be the worst natural disaster in US history. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, and other severe storms have impacted more than 2.2 billion people in the past 10 years. This is a very large increase from the previous ten years, and it will increase in the forseeable future. It is isn’t that there are more hurricanes or earthquakes, it is that people have continued to populate high risk areas, and in many cases, not take the precautions that might lessen the effect of these natural events. For example, in the case of the flooding of New Orleans, the THE TIMES-PICAYUNE Newspaper wrote a five-part series on the effect of a hurricane on New Orleans in 2002. It was a clear warning of what would happen to New Orleans in the event of a category 4 or 5 hurricane. The response of federal and state agencies has been considered by many as “unacceptable” and has led to a great deal of criticism.
I have developed a citizen resource (in the form of a webquest) that is designed to educate and inform people about Hurricane Katrina. Teachers should find the resource valuable for upper elementary, middle and high school students.