After reading Diane Ravitch's recent blog Are Charter Schools Public Schools, and slogging through all the comments her writing always generates, I responded myself. I realized that I am filled to capacity with the think-tank "research," the back and forth theoretical debate, and the pre-packaged rhetoric of reform. I know what I know - the New Orleans experience. That perspective is not based on theory but on the reality of the destruction that the reform model has brought to New Orleans, and now thanks to our Governor and his bought-and-paid-for legislature, our entire state.

Here is the link to Diane's article and all the commentary that follows. And here is my response.

10:09 AM on June 1, 2012

I have become a full-time advocate for "traditional" public education since retiring as a teacher in Louisiana. I study the research, read the reports, follow the blogs, and injest a healthy dose of corporate think-tank rhetoric. In the end, my perspective has been informed and formed by the realities of the "reform" and charter movement as they exist in what has been called the "New Orleans Model."

I have been "inside" that model from a personal, professional, social and political and practical standpoint. While there are individual charter schools and sometimes individual educators inside charter schools who exemplify excellence and dedication, the "model" is one that undermines the strength in our system of traditional public schools and its overriding precept as a breeding ground for democracy and opportunity and hope for ALL CHILDREN.

Following that same "model" nationally has convinced me that the New Orleans charter community is not an anomoly. It, and the corporate deformers promoting it, is like the beautiful but invasive and destructive water hyacinth that has taken over our bayous and waterways and threaten our habitat once teeming with a diverse species.

In the end, the solution to the problem of our "failing schools," the mantra and largely mythical picture perpetuated by "reform," is really much simpler, by far less expensive, and potentially much more effective than that offered by the tsunami of "transformational" change. FULLY FUND and FIX our public school system. Re-invite communities to participate once again in the vital resource that builds local economic and social structure that is the basis for the growth of our nation - our democracy - community schools.

The corporate reform movement has been successful over many years in landlocking public education and cutting it off from the innovation it now claims to provide through charters. NCLB has done its damage with high stakes standardized testing, standardized curriculum, standardized textbooks and its goal of STANDARDIZing our children (thanks Pearson!)

Remove the barriers and allow highly qualified, dedicated, professional educators to innovate and once again inspire our children and our communities.

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