To the Editor,
While I applaud Leigh Davis' attempt to shed light on the subject of charter schools in New Orleans ("Coming to a City Near You"), I regret the fact that the subject matter was not thoroughly researched nor backed up. For concerned educators to make comments and an educational based writer to print an incomplete article shows serious irresponsibility. This is merely inflammatory and not really informative.
The next time that you would like to have one of your writers truly write about the transition of the public schools system, interview proponents from both sides. Charters are not evil, nor are they the answer to the failing school system that is America, not just New Orleans. Charters here are an opportunity for the community to operate the schools with true educational leadership and cultural interjection.
This is what the Treme Charter Association is attempting to do! Do not blindly judge this group before you know the basis of what has transpired, who they are, and what their plans for the schools are to be.
You write, "three schools operated by the Treme Charter School Association had their charters rescinded by the state, after the group submitted a very different operating plan than what was originally approved.”
Nothing about the groups' operating plan was changed, but things were changed for the betterment of the school and the involvement of the community. That's how things are in the aftermath of devastation -- things are fluid and always changing for the better if possible.
Criticisms are vast and plenty, and it is easy for us to run to that which is known and comfortable, like the government-run school system. The question that we must ask is whether this comfort is better for the employees of that system or is it truly beneficial for the students and the community.
To further dispute your inaccurate article, none of the children were forced to re-register to attend these schools. The third school's students were able to move through a very thoughtful process that was in place prior to the registration of the students and are not left without a school to attend. They are not searching for "other educational options."
You have succeeded in your attempt to gain more readers, but you have failed them in the conveyance of accurate journalism. If you would like to be truly educated on the happenings of the public school system in New Orleans, I would be more than happy to help if it will shed light on what is really happening down here!
Bernard H. Robertson III
New Orleans, La.
The editors respond: Leigh Davis’ piece was not intended to be a big-picture story on the merits of charter schools. Rather, it was an attempt to paint the picture of what was happening to the school system in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
As for our supposed factual inaccuracies, we stand by the facts as we (and other newspapers) have reported: Treme’s charter was revoked, the group’s educational plan had been changed after the dissolution of its partnership with EdFutures, Inc. and students were forced to complete another registration process.
Further, while you chastise City Belt for lacking accuracy, and attempting to mislead readers, we must wonder why you were not more forthcoming about your own affiliations. Nowhere in your letter or signature did you mention your role as treasurer of the Treme Charter School Association.
We would be the first to admit that there are serious problems with public education, especially in poor, urban areas. But there are structural reasons, a failure of government in the guise of defunding, that created the situation where charters are, to some, a more attractive option than traditional public schools. And we think these should be righted by fixing government, not be eliminating it.