Charters In Chicago & New Orleans

The great irony of many complaints about charts in Chicago is that its charter schools are among the smallest, most tightly screened set of charters in the nation, with few of the major disasters that have bedeviled charter schools in other cities.  And yet, they receive as much criticism locally as in other places -- Ohio, Arizon -- where there really is a free for all going on.  I'm not saying that the charters here are perfect, just that they could be a lot worse if the powers that be wanted to let them.  And that they are in many ways better-run than the charters in other places.

Conf_logo_2007smallversionSpeaking of other places, the test scores are in for Louisiana, which turned scads of NOLA schools into charters last year.  As you can see from the email and article below, the NOLA charters did exceptionally well.


I want to make sure
you have the chance to read the article from this week’s New Orleans
Times-Picayune, “Charter schools lead the way on LEAP.”



Louisiana’s bold commitment to charter schools is showing strong positive results for children.


the weeks and months that followed Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana leaders
made a remarkable commitment to use charter schools to rebuild New
Orleans’ public schools. NACSA has been working closely with state
officials since then, designing a charter school accountability
framework, establishing oversight policies and procedures, and
evaluating many dozens of applications to start new charter schools.


the application review process, we set high standards for quality. We
recommended against some proposals that everyone assumed would be
approved. We were publicly criticized but we took a stand, along with
Louisiana’s tough state board of education. There can be no free passes
to start a school.


surprised others by recommending a proposal from an inspiring group of
educators from a previously struggling New Orleans public school. We
saw the potential these educators had – if they could be set free from
district control. And the students are now benefiting from that
decision. As the article reports, the King elementary school “has
continued to surge since becoming a charter school.”


the city, the results are now coming in. New Orleans public schools
that converted to charter status made strong improvement compared to
their own school’s prior scores. “In scores released this week, charter
schools such as Wright posted higher scores at every grade level,”
reports the Times-Picayune, “some showing vast improvement over their
Pre-Katrina, pre-charter performance under the Orleans Parish School


addition to strong test results for the charter schools themselves, New
Orleans is now telling another story. At the same time that a set of
new charter schools opened, the state’s Recovery School District opened
and operated twenty schools of its own along a traditional district
model. Opening at the same time, operating side-by-side, serving the
same communities, we now have a nearly perfect case study of the
relative strengths and weaknesses of the “charter model” and the
“district model.”


the first test scores offering meaningful a comparison between charter
schools and traditional public schools in New Orleans, charter schools
clustered near the top of the rankings,” reports the Times-Picayune.
“Traditional schools – particularly those run by the state-run Recovery
School District – in some cases had more than half of their students
fail the test.”


one-third of New Orleans’ students are in district-run schools. As
someone who worked closely with new RSD Superintendent Paul Vallas in
Chicago, I know that Paul will quickly right this ship, improving
schools that remain under RSD control and converting some RSD schools
into charters.


coming years will hold more lessons. So far New Orleans is teaching us
that the charter school model empowers educators to deliver better
results for children and that smart authorizing is an important
component of that success. Along with hundreds of dedicated educators,
thousands of New Orleans students and families, and bold Louisiana
public officials, NACSA is proud to be a part of this success.

Filed under: The World Outside CPS


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  • I would like to know if the scores put up by the charters are from the same students who were previously attending the public schools that used to be there. If it's a matter of charters doing that much better with the very same students, then that's impressive. If it's a matter of switching student bodies, then that's another matter.

    It seems as though the poorest of NO's children were shunted into the Recovery School District, so it may be no surprise that the scores are as they are. Which anyone with a modicum of intelligence could figure out and would want to see deeper stats to figure out.

  • The CTU stance on charters is misguided.

    How many of you would like to teach at a school that is freed from some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools?

    How many of you would like your school to operate autonomously and utilize innovative pedagogy?

    Any takers? Any one? Anybody think those are *bad* things?

    Charter schools are not a problem for CTU. The fact that charter schools are non-union is the problem. I'm not sure why CTU ignores this fact or is unable to articulate it to the media, the public or its membership.

    I hear charters are not allowed to be union schools. If that is so, CTU's strategy should not be to eliminate charters, but to ensure charters *are* union schools.

    I must be missing something. Please help me understand this issue better.

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