This guest editorial appeared on Nola.com. Nola.com edited it for length, but the full version appears below.
New Orleans charter schools are all the same? Not true: Leslie Jacobs
One key component of New Orleans’ innovative school model is school choice. When schools have to compete for students, they have to perform well or students and parents will choose to go elsewhere. Likewise, choice encourages parents to be more engaged in their child’s education by compelling them to be an active participant in deciding what school their child should attend.
An often repeated critique, however, is that while families have choice, they lack a diversity of choices: New Orleans charters are all the same.
This stereotype was echoed in the recent Cowen Institute report on New Orleans schools, which stated, “the variation in school design is largely limited to high-stakes standards-based teaching and strict discipline policies.”
So is there any truth to this criticism? Are most charter schools in New Orleans carbon copies of each other just focused on tests and discipline?
An argument can be made that statement was true five years ago. It is not true today.
In the early years, many of the charter schools did look alike and were very focused on establishing their school culture, discipline and academic programs.
But one of the key advantages of a decentralized school system is the freedom to innovate and respond to needs quicker and better. Over the past few years, schools have responded to families’ desire for diverse educational and extracurricular opportunities. And new charters continue to recognize gaps in the city’s educational landscape and launch schools to meet these needs.