Saturday, August 6, 2005

The Uneducated Guide to Reforming New Orleans Schools

I know what you are thinking and you are right. I have never even taken a class in education. However, judging by the condition of the public school system at the moment, I can't do any worse than the educated people have. 73 schools in my beloved city are considered failing. When you add the 50 zillion dollar budget deficit, the only way I could be worse than them is to just hand out guns on the first day to get all the kids prepared for their future careers as criminals. New Orleans is a unique place. Anybody that comes in attempting to turn these schools around will have to take into account the special circumstances than contribute to the problems. With that in mind, here are my 10 rules designed to turn around the public schools system.

1. The superintendent job should be split into two separate positions: The job of straightening out the money and test scores of this city is just too much for one person to carry out. I say you make it two positions. The academic superintendent reports to the school board and the Financial Manager reports to the city's CFO. The school board and city officials can work out the budget along with the finance manager and superintendent so theirs no confusion over who has what to spend.
2. Any Contract over 50,000 dollars must be made public before and after it is awarded: This will stop all the hook ups being giving out that drained all the money in the first place.
3. All New Orleans teachers must be able to pass the Leap or Iowa test for the grade they are teaching by at least 90%: I know this sounds crazy but it makes sense to me. A fourth grade teacher should be able to pass the 4th grade leap test by 100%. If she can't, she needs a lower grade to teach.
4. Any child suspended for fighting more than three times in one year shall be out for the year and their parents will receive a citation and fine: Because fighting at school in this city is bigger than reading. Lack of parental involvement is even bigger than the fighting.
5. A portion of the budget must be set aside each year to rebuild any school over 20 years old: I bet you I could go to my old middle school and find some gravity I put there in 1987. Appearance and surroundings are related to self esteem.
6. A portion of the budget must be set aside each year to finance music, arts, and other extra curricular programs: Because these kids would be much more excited about going to school if there was something else to look forward to other than just sitting in that chair listening to the same person talk everyday.
7. All homework and test must be signed by a parent or guardian and no reports will be issued without a parent/teacher conference: If you do not show up to pick up the first two report cards you will receive a citation and fine for that. We have to get some parental involvement.
8. After 2nd grade, all kids shall be evaluated on their behavior and placed in classes accordingly: Every generation of kids growing up in New Orleans miss loads of material because their teacher is too busy chasing some fool back to his or her seat. It may be wrong but the clowns need to be separated and placed with specially trained and well paid teachers who can handle them.
9. There should be one hour of black history, current events and conflict resolution discussion every day : Our kids need to understand who they are now, where they came from, and how to get where they want to be. I child with no hope or understanding of himself feels no need to sit there and listen while you are trying to teach them things that won't matter. Self worth fuels human beings willingness to learn.
10. Citywide dress code: New Orleans is a very territorial city. Wars break out between two groups living as close as a block away from one another. Has anyone realized how easy it is for a group of people from one school to jump on people from another with those uniforms on. I say we go to one standard color for everybody or drop the uniforms all together. It was allot easier for me to get home with my T shirt and jeans since no one knew what school I went to.

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