A Tale of Two Cities’ Schools

You haven’t heard much about Bobby Jindal lately, have you? You probably should have:

Post-Katrina New Orleans is already the nation’s leading charter-school zone, with 80% of city students enrolled, academic performance improving dramatically, and plans to go all-charter by 2013. To spread the model statewide, the Governor would create new regional boards for authorizing charters and offer fast-track authorization to high-performing operators such as KIPP. He’d also give charters the same access to public facilities as traditional public schools.

As for tenure, Mr. Jindal would grant it only to teachers who are rated “highly effective” five years in a row, meaning the top 10% of performers. And tenure wouldn’t equal lifetime protection: A tenured teacher who rates in the bottom 10% (“ineffective”) in any year would return to probationary status. Ineffective teachers would receive no pay raise. Louisiana would also ban the “last in, first out” practice under which younger teachers are dismissed first, regardless of performance.

He’s also proposing a massive expansion of the pilot voucher program. One of the untold stories of Hurricane Katrina is that the New Orleans school system has been completely rebuilt in the aftermath, with massive improvement in student performance. Of course, this doesn’t fit the narrative that we need to spend more and shrink class size (an idea questioned by research). So media seems to have a massive lacuna where NO schools are concerned. They just can’t grok the idea of fixing schools without tons of money and loyalty to unions.

Now let’s contrast, shall we? Let’s look at the other end of the scale with one of the most broken bureaucratic systems in the country. Meet Alan Rosenfeld, getting paid $100k a year to do nothing:

Accused in 2001 of making lewd comments and ogling eighth-grade girls’ butts at IS 347 in Queens, Rosenfeld was slapped with a week off without pay after the DOE failed to produce enough witnesses at a hearing.

But instead of returning Rosenfeld to the classroom, the DOE kept him in one of its notorious “rubber rooms,” where teachers in misconduct cases sat idle or napped. As The Post reported, Rosenfeld kept busy managing his many investment properties and working on his law practice. He’s a licensed attorney and real-estate broker.

Since the DOE closed the teacher holding pens in June 2010, those facing disciplinary charges were scattered to offices and given tasks such as answering phones, filing and photocopying.

Rosenfeld could have retired four years ago at 62, but his pension grows by $1,700 for each year he stays — even without teaching. If he quit today, his annual pension would total an estimated $85,400.

Another rubber room veteran retired at 76 after being accused of molesting a kid … 14 years after being accused.

One of our parties supports this bloated out of control system. One thinks the only real problem is a lack of federal control. One had its leader recently propose the insane idea that even the worst kids should be kept in school until they are 18, no matter what. And one of our parties is supposed to be the Party of Education while the other doesn’t care and is even described as “anti-teacher.”

Guess which is which?

Comments are closed.

  1. Dick Fitzwell

    Reason TV had a video recently about school choice. I hope this turns out to be a model for other states to follow. As someone else said–why send money to DC just to have them eventually send it back to the states?

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  2. davidst

    Jindal won reelection in a landslide and seems to be doing a lot of good for Louisiana. Our unemployment rate is lower than the national average despite persistent cuts in the government sector. Of course, Katrina rebuilding and oil-spill reparations may be helping to some degree. I need to learn more about what’s going on in the state but don’t have any extra time right now.

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  3. salinger

    Any honest look at charter schools will show they have no better record of success with kids than public schools. There is plenty of research which shows this. Fact is the media, loves to focus on the few which outperform while spotlighting the horror stories of public and education ignoring the equal ratio of success stories in the public sector.

    If you’re really interested a quick google search will back this. Of course you could also ignore the facts as so many prefer to do – including the current administration. It’s a simple case of Intuitive heuristics. That and the funneling of public monies into private hands.

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  4. CM

    Large debate about this issue here recently as a right-wing coalition partner of the Govt’s is trying to get charter schools set up in post-earthquake Christchurch.

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