Patronage or patrons?

Amidst the clean-up efforts in Louisiana, Governor Kathleen Blanco has proposed a plan to allow New Orleans' failing schools (an astonishing 102 of the city's 117 schools) to re-open as charters, free from the miserable New Orleans school board's overbearing regulations. "We will use innovative thinking, help from proven partners, and look to the charter school model as one of our options," Blanco said in front of the legislature's special session. "Now is the time for us to turn those schools around and create a system that benefits every child in that parish." Can it work? Hard to say at the moment, as there are few specifics on how a charter system would operate (Louisiana's charter school law is notoriously weak - see here for more). Some in the state, however, are squarely behind the idea, and for all the right reasons. "There's no reason to give the vested interests of today's system a veto over reforms," writes the editorial board of the Advocate, a Baton Rouge paper. "Let's face it, this is an easy call: adults and their patronage jobs, or children and their futures." And the state's House Education Committee is drafting legislation as Gadfly goes to press. The specifics of that legislation will ultimately determine whether the charter move is real or illusory.

"Blanco urges cuts as session opens," by Robert Travis Scott, Times-Picayune, November 7, 2005

"Reform system for the children," Advocate (Baton Rouge), November 9, 2005

"La. governor makes charter school proposal," CNN.com, November 4, 2005

"N.O. schools takeover idea has legs," by Laura Maggi, Times-Picayune, November 9, 2005

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