OPSB Moves to Oppose Legislation Intended to Limit Charter School Authority

NOPS board members answer roll call at an emergency meeting 4/26/2021

After nearly two hours of public comments against the motion, the Orleans Parish School Board voted 6-1 in favor of a resolution opposing a bill that would limit charter school authority in New Orleans, and return that authority back to the school board. Only District 7 board member Nolan Marshall Jr. voted against the resolution.

Senator Dr. Joseph Bouie (D-New Orleans) introduced the bill after a Louisiana Legislative Audit found that after 15-years of charter schools in New Orleans, there is still no State protocol for Charter Law Compliance, no student performance improvement, and no best practices identified to improve student and school performance.

“After 15 years and $7 billion of taxpayer’s money, the all-charter district that was created by the State of Louisiana – specifically our New Orleans school system – has proven to be both a flawed educational experiment, and in fact has proven to fail our students relative to student achievement,” Sen. Bouie said when addressing the board at today’s meeting.

“When you look across all grades… 73 percent of our kids were not performing at grade level, compared to 63 percent when the state took our schools in 2005. That means that 10 percent more of our kids are doing worse than they were when the state first took our schools under the Recovery School District.”

In fact, a study conducted by Stanford University found instead:

  • Schools are highly stratified by race, class, and educational advantage
  • School closures (the primary method for addressing school quality) result in a loss of student achievement and performance
  • 26,000 New Orleanians between 16 and 24 are considered “disconnected” as they are neither working nor in school.

Under current law, the local school board cannot “impede the operational autonomy of charter schools.” SB 404 would return authority back to the school board, which then may grant that operational autonomy through the charter contract. In addition, Type 3B charter schools would not be able to act as their own local education authority unless approved by the local school board.

Essentially, this bill would give the OPSB more control over charter schools in New Orleans – so why would they vote against it?

Board President Olin G. Parker (District 3) stated that the board is opposing the legislation because Sen. Bouie did not collaborate enough with the school board when drafting it.

“This resolution is, at its core, about collaboration. This board has shown an extreme willingness to collaborate with other elected officials for the past year and a half that we’ve been in office,” Parker said, noting that the board meets regularly with Mayor LaToya Cantrell, the New Orleans City Council, and the District Attorney’s office. Parker then when on to say that when he offered to meet with Sen. Bouie and asked to look at the bill, Sen. Bouie told him that he could see the text of the legislation when it was filed. “That is not collaboration, that is dictation. We expect as a board to work with our legislative delegation routinely, we expect to work with them often. That’s the kind of collaboration we are seeking.”

Following Parker’s statement, the room erupted in jeers and shouts from the assembled parents and education activists. Eventually, Parker was forced to cut his comments short in order to proceed with the vote and bring the over two-hour meeting to a close.

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