All Charter New Orleans raises an interesting question

The Washington Post reports that the New Orleans school district will be all charter next year.

No matter what you think about charter schools, think about this:
What is the role of a school district when it does not actually operate any schools?

In this situation, the district pretty much becomes a charter school authorizer.

The Board could continue in its role as a policy-making body. They can still set curriculum and graduation requirements, but they are freed of their property management work and textbook approvals. This would be a pretty big change for Seattle's Board, who spend more time on property management than anything else and do almost no policy or curriculum work.

What about the central administration staff? In an all charter district their role narrows to policy enforcement and quality assurance. They give up their responsibility for HR, facilities, professional development, and finance. They retain some legal work, I presume, as well as some vestigal accounting and reporting duty, but the entire Teaching and Learning department goes away just like HR and facilities.

I guess you could say that whatever work is left for a school district when the schools are gone is the most essential work of the district. Here's the funny thing: Seattle Public Schools has this responsibility of policy enforcement and quality assurance, but they don't do it. Not at all. All of their other work could be delegated to the schools. This is their only indelegable work, yet they simply neglect it.

I'm not saying that I want Seattle to become an all-charter district. I'm saying that I want Seattle Public Schools to do their policy enforcement and quality assurance work.


Anonymous said…
It reminds me of 'site-based management', except the district kept central control of facilities & gave up central control of curriculum.

-HS parent
Anonymous said…
Speaking of quality control,

We filed a complaint with the district for an issue happening at our son's school.

The district said they did an investigation and found they did not commit the allegation.

We filed a FERPA request.

Contained in the documents the district sent us were not only emails proving our complaint
was valid, but emails showing an attempt to cover-up the situation.

You would think that someone would view the documents and pull incriminating evidence or realize that the investigation was poor and start over.

Really I don't understand what is going on at the Stafford Center.

Patrick said…
You'd think that they'd know by now that e-mails are about as private as newspaper headlines. We not only have crooked people running the schools, we have incompetent crooked people.
Charlie Mas said…
Michael, I certainly hope that you're aware that you can appeal the ruling. You can continue to appeal it all the way to the School Board if you like.
Charlie Mas said…
While we're on the topic, I have never seen a district claim that they had conducted an investigation that was ever true.
Anonymous said…
I'm curious, What happens to the kids the charter schools counsel out? What happens to the special needs kids or the kids the charters don't want? Normally they would go to the public school, but when there are no public schools left, where do the go? Do they sit at home until they are arrested because they have too much time on their hands and get into trouble? Will New Orleans be increasing its private prison population to go along with its charter schools? Is New Orleans the bellwether for the rest of the nation, so we can become truly capitalistic in all aspects of society?

Anonymous said…
CT, maybe this is what happens (the individual stories are all about children in charter schools - it's from 2010, but still an interesting read):

Anonymous said…
What happened when we privatized public power in California? Enron.

I dread where New Orleans will be in 10 years. Dread it.

Anonymous said…
Actually, because of the movement towards all charter, New Orleans has developed centralized enrollment and expulsion systems so that schools can neither selectively select nor expel any child. And while we're on the topic, it's not as if traditional public schools do not have selective admission or expulsion policies that discriminate against certain kids. There's a long history at work here, hardly unique to charter schools.
Anonymous said…
You mean this centralized enrollment system, anonymous?
Or this one?

As for the history - charters, as always, have taken things at least one step further, and they get away with it. The nastiness I've seen occur in Arizona and Utah after the first count date, when the charter classes magically shrink in size (but keep the $$), or the expulsions that happen right before test time. The labeling of kids with minor - very minor - speech or language needs as being SPED so as to make their enrollment look more balanced (and 1/2 the time rhe kid has to go to the public school to get the speech services). I've never claimed public schools don't have the issue with expulsion - all you need to do is look at the Texas Miracle data to know that when there are 800 freshmen entering a HS class and 2 years later only 650 take the test, that something fishy is going on. That is caused by the high-stakes testing market-based ideology, which also loves its charter schools. However, while public schools have accountability (see the complaint filed described above), charter schools don't. If that same complaint was filed against a charter achool, they'd ignore it and have that kid "counseled out" in days. Public school kids and parents have rights and due process - even if sometimes the districts forget that, the court reminds them. But charters argue and point to the court rulings that they are private entities when accountability and due process stuff comes up, but public when they want public money. Parents and students have few to no rights at charters, and quite often no local accountability.
Charters have also made selective enrollment and counseling out an art form in itself. A charter school application available one day a year at a country club in PA? How about available at a wardhouse, like Utah? Yet there have always been the public schools as the fallback for the charters when they dump kids. Now there are no public schools in New Orleans. To me that is a very scary thing. It feels like the death of democracy, and instead of school for all, it is schools for a chosen few.

Anonymous said…
No type of school is immune from litigation. In some cases you must exhaust due process first before filing. In fact there are several cases where a charter school lost an IDEA related suit. It's an urban legend that charters don't have to follow ADA laws. Take a look below.


A settlement was also reached in United States v. Nobel Learning Communities, Inc., 676 F. Supp. 2d 379 (E.D. Pa. 2009). In Nobel Learning Communities, students with disabilities attending schools operated by Nobel Learning Communities (“NLC”) charter school network alleged discriminatory practices in violation of the ADA and its implementing regulations. Specifically, it was argued that NLC engaged in the discriminatory practice of failing to enroll or dis enrolling students with disabilities from its schools. The federal district court dismissed the allegations of discrimination at NLC’s day care, elementary, and secondary schools because there were no facts creating a reasonable inference of a discriminatory policy. However, the cause of action against NLC’s preschools survived a motion to dismiss. The remaining allegations were that NLC’s preschools violated the ADA and its implementing regulations by instituting a policy to exclude, remove, or otherwise discriminate against children with disabilities from NLC programs and acted on the policy by excluding, removing, or otherwise discriminating against children with disabilities. In January 2011, the Department of Justice entered into a settlement agreement with NLC, where NLC agreed, among other things, to adopt and implement a formal non-discrimination policy, make reasonable modifications to programs and services when necessary to afford its programs and services to students with disabilities, appoint an ADA compliance officer, and pay $215,000 to the children referred to in the lawsuit. A summary of the settlement terms can be found on the Department of Justice’s website at - See more at:
Anonymous said…
Those are the few that actually got to that point. Most of them don't. Why? Because the charters push the kids out prior the suit (hence they are no longer their students) or make them unwelcome to begin with.

Try this:

Article quote: "The basic message: Figure out how to educate these kids alongside their peers, without regard for how much it costs. Of course, it's way more complicated than that -- hundreds of pages of complicated, including several re-authorizations by Congress to tweak the law.
And then came charter schools. Special education law applies to all public schools -- both charter and district -- but many charters manage to wiggle out of it by pushing out special-needs students. Hence, the new segregation.

Hope Kirsch, a special education lawyer in Scottsdale, has noticed it. Kirsch says she taught school in New York from 1975 to the early '90s. She was assigned to work with special-needs children; inevitably, she recalls, her classroom was in the school basement or the top floor, "shoved away, very segregated."

She became a lawyer and was delighted to see strides made in special education later in the '90s and in the 2000s, in which special-needs kids were mainstreamed in the classroom with typical kids -- something she says was good for all. But that, she says, has been short-lived, ironically because of school choice.

"We're going back to the days of institutionalization," Kirsch says.


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