Any New Orleans CMs willing to comment?

New Orleans is definitely the ‘ground zero’ for education reform. The corporate reform model is conducting their ‘great’ experiment there as 80% of the schools in the ‘Recovery School District’ are charters.

If the experiment works it will be replicated throughout the country. Already, Memphis is starting to copy it. If the experiment fails, the whole corporate reform movement could fail too. Everything seems to be riding on New Orleans.

Not being down there myself, I can only rely on second-hand descriptions of what’s going on there. I’ve read press statements about what amazing things are going on there. About how only 18% of students now attend ‘failing’ schools vs. 60% before Katrina.

But I also hear from the other side. I hear stories about cheating and about excluding kids with special needs. The scores from the RSD are pretty low though they are, apparently, improving.

My question to people currently out there in New Orleans is: Is New Orleans the educational utopia depicted by the school leaders out there? Or is it more like the naysayers describe?

I really want to get to the bottom of this. If I didn’t have a wife, a 3 year old, and an 8 month old, I’d go down there for a year and find out for myself. But I can’t do that, so this has to be done remotely.

I just can’t imagine that things are that great. Teaching is such a difficult job. I don’t see how a bunch of rookie teachers are overcoming poverty through their hard work. It just goes against everything I’ve experienced about the job of teaching over the past 20 years.

Help me out here. If you don’t want to write it as a comment, you can email me at garyrubinstein -then the at sign- yahoo. What are CMs saying to each other about what’s going on out there?

I can get you a discount at Rubenstein’s department store on St. Charles Ave. and Canal St.  Just tell them you know me.

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7 Responses to Any New Orleans CMs willing to comment?

  1. CY says:

    Please explain your argument that Memphis is starting to copy the RSD. I’m not being argumentative, just curious about why you are making that claim. The Achievement District currently runs 4 schools in Memphis. MCS runs the rest, with some charters thrown in there as well.

  2. hill says:

    I’m a Memphis CM, and interestingly enough, my principal told us this week that we’re heading towards being the next New Orleans.

  3. Rachel Levy says:

    Hey Gary,

    If you don’t already, you should follow @KHRoyal (Karran Harper Royal). She is very involved with ed reform in New Orleans and would probably have some good information & resources for you.

  4. Ray Sanders says:

    Gary, the educational reforms being touted across the country in reality in a “national model for failure”. Louisiana state education officials, the media and the public education privateers has done of masterful job in fabricating success thanks in large part to corporate community and several foundations. The test scores are terrible, its fill with equity and access problems for students, the charters are unaccountable and the charter management companies are making millions of $$. Specific info on this failure can be found on several web sites from New Orleans folks ( and Also there is a weekly radio show that tells the real story of the failed reforms, you can listen online by going to The New Orleans Imperative web site listed above.

  5. Moseis says:

    The solutions are quite simple. Readers’ and writers’ workshops!

    When children are surrounded by books, inspired to read through vivid book talks–vice being handed drill and kill passages–shown the beauty of words and language, they will read. They will “notice” the power of words. And, if they read, just read, they may not become reading aficionados, but they have found genres they can enjoy, then half the battle is won. However, we can’t even get to the point of basic comprehension as kids are still working on phonics in middle and high school!!

    Another basic? Yes, math! Why have I had hundreds of 7th graders come to me unable to recite multiplication tables in the United States of America? How does that happen?

    The solutions are simple. Get the kids reading and writing through workshop models, and we will see a change. However, as they say, hmmm, “follow the money.” There are interests in place that will lose profits if children can read and write.

    Oh my, it is all so sad and so unnecessary.

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