Flashback to Katrina; Matt Wingard style

Carla Axtman

Republicans have demonstrated time and again that they'll use all manner of disgusting tactics to get their way. So on this third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, let's take a look back and remind ourselves of just how Matt Wingard used the disaster to try and gain leverage for charter schools:

In the summer of 2005, Katrina destroyed most of the New Orleans Public School District infrastructure—a blessing to many, since the district was one of the worst performing in the country. According to published reports, 73 of its more than 120 schools were considered to be “failing,” according to the state’s educational accountability standards. On one 2004 measure (the GEE test of highschoolers) 96 percent of Orleans Parish students were below basic in English, and 94 percent were below basic in math.

In the wake of Katrina, the Louisiana State Legislature turned over most of the area to a Recovery School District headed by its own superintendent. That superintendent has begun chartering many of the Recovery District schools, which in turn has attracted some of the leading charter school operators in the country. Sixty percent of schools in New Orleans are now chartered.

Wingard=Yay! A massive natural disaster wiped out an entire infrastructure that didn't square with my beliefs!! Now I can rejoice in the blessing for the new right-wing ideological phoenix in its wake!!

What an ass.

Comments

  • The Libertarian Guy (unverified)
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    The New York Times Sunday magazine had an article on this a couple of weeks ago. It reads like they are doing pretty good so far. Yes there are problems, but when you start as low as they did, which was pretty bad before the storm, then any success is great.

    TLG

  • RichW (unverified)
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    Finally paying attention to public education is bound to have some positive results. Where I have a problem with most charters is that they are so intent in proving they are a better system for mass education, that they cheat on their statistics. I mentor a charter school kid who is not succeeding in a local charter school. His parents have been told that he should seek a different school. They can't legally force him to quit but they have badgered his parents to get him out of the school. This "lopping off the bottom" is a dishonest way to prove the value of charter schools.

    I am not against charter schools. I am not against private schools. I am not against alternative schools. I am not against home schooling. Each have their own benefit. But as a general solution for public education, especially in narrowing the achievement gap of minorities, they are not any better than the existing infrastructure when applied to the masses of kids in elementary and secondary schools.

    The successes of new education fads follow the "Hawthorne Effect". I saw this with my own kids during the "open school" fad of the 70's.

  • (Show?)

    I'm just generally against labeling natural disasters a "blessing" because they resulted in Matt Wingard's ideological happy place.

    It's sick, frankly.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    Carla,

    Your faux outrage over this fuax Wingard position is silly. How do you come up with your stuff anyway?

    Amazing.

    As far as public charter schools go they are obviously successful and helping New Orleans and the rest of the country including here in Oregon.

    These public schools are genuinely helping in New Orleans and Wingard's opinion on the matter was an authentic appreciation for these successful public schools. Not whatever ideological happy place you imagine.

    As far as lopping off the bottom goes? That canard has been one of the bromide ushers these public schools have faced for years.

    Back to the drawing board Carla.

  • (Show?)

    From Tompaine.com http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2007/03/05/playing_school_in_katrinas_wake.php

    In the 18 months since Hurricane Katrina, the infrastructure of the New Orleans public schools has been systematically dismantled and a new tangle of independently operated educational experiments has been erected in its place. This new structure has taken away community control and community ownership of all but a handful of schools. Instead, independent charter management organizations—virtually all from outside the state—are now running 60 percent of New Orleans schools.

    There are no more neighborhood boundaries. In a market-based model, parents are considered “customers.” And they’re supposed to “choose” where to send their kids to school. But since every one of the charter schools was filled to capacity last spring, hundreds of parents have no choice at all for their kids. Families now returning to New Orleans are bringing 15 to 75 kids per day. Hundreds of kids with disabilities (who are often turned away from charter schools) are being placed in the under-resourced and over-burdened state-run Recovery School District. It’s their only choice.

    This Balkanized school system is not closing a gap. It’s opening a chasm. This week, at Frederick Douglass High School (a state-run school), I read students the text of an advertisement for New Orleans teachers that was posted in CareerBuilders.com. The ad read: “Certified teachers will teach in the city's charter schools. Uncertified teachers will teach in the Recovery School District.” One student, a senior at Douglass, jerked her head up at this line. “What?” she asked. Then she just shook her head, hung it down and muttered, “It's like we’re experiments."

    The Bush Administration was instrumental in creating this new chasm between the “haves” and the “have nots” in New Orleans. Rather than create the world-class public schools that all New Orleans kids have deserved for so long, the Bush Administration invested in an ideological experiment to make a pro-privatization, anti-public education statement.

  • RichW (unverified)
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    I beg to differ with you, Steve, especially when it comes to Oregon Charter schools. Over 20% of the Charter schools have failed. Nationally more than 12% of Charter Schools fail to survive.

    The "secret" to educating our young people is to pay attention to them, no matter what the structure. The schools that succeed have dedicated staff committed to a certain philosophy, but there is also a hihg burnout rate in such environments.

    If you don't believe the lopping of the bottom, then you haven't been paying attention.

  • bugs (unverified)
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    While it's true that Matt Wingard's views of Hurricane Katrina and public schools are crazy, let's not forget the craziest part about Wingard: he is a CONVICTED CHILD ABUSER. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • (Show?)

    Astonishing. Thanks Carla. Puts a whole new spin on Grover Norquist's "drown the government" idea, & shows just how pathological hatred of the public sector can become.

    Steve, it's not praise for the success (or otherwise) of charter schools in New Orleans that's wrong, it's this

    Katrina destroyed most of the New Orleans Public School District infrastructure—a blessing to many

    Anyone with such profoundly distorted judgment has no business holding public office.

  • Dan (unverified)
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    Riiiight. Like all us neocon rightwingers held a prayer circle until God Almighty answered our fevered pleas and wiped New Orleans' schools off the map so we could start fresh. One might think if we conservatives could really control weather and the forces of nature with our DSL connection to God, you pagan liberal wankers might want to kiss our ass a little more before the brimstone starts falling over Portland.

    There is a vast difference between finding a silver lining in a tragedy like Katrina, and hoping-waiting-wishing for an all-out calamity. But only if you aren't a wacked out moonbat trying desperately to point fingers during the Silly Season.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Before you get too deep into the idea that charter schools solve everything in New Orleans and elsewhere, you might start thinking about the ways public schools in some areas are made successful, or at least the governors try things that are more pragmatic than ideological.

    Huckabee saying if the state of Arkansas took over a failing school, the first thing they did was get rid of the Supt. and School Board because they had failed to manage properly (he said their biggest problem with teachers was not incompetence but burnout after about 4 years) would be one example.

    Another example: the current Gov. of Alaska. The VP choice led to all sorts of research about her, and somewhere I found a link to her Gov. campaign website.

    EDUCATION - I envision a world class educational system founded upon the principles of safety, quality, social responsibility, parental involvement and fiscal accountability.

    Parents understand the importance of their involvement with and their responsibility for their child’s education. 􀂃 Children attend class ready to learn. 􀂃 Teachers are allowed to teach without distraction. 􀂃 Administrations sustain an environment where performance and options are valued. 􀂃 Business will help define the outcomes needed for employment. 􀂃 Diverse ethnic, cultural and religious values will be respected in the environment of education

    professional training opportunities for our good teachers, including teacher mentoring. Teachers should be allowed to be creative with their curriculum, within a safe environment with a group of students’ intent on learning. • Administration is responsible to their community for costs, safety, and choice.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20061028035208/www.palinforgovernor.com/issues.html

  • Steve (unverified)
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    Unlike regular public schools at least chsarter schools can be closed or taken over in states not beholden to the teacher's unions.

    Chris your wishful thinking about Wingard's context is foolish. He wasn't calling the hurricane a blessing. He was calling the public charter school emergenvce a blessing. And why not it has helped tremendously.

    So can the usual faux profoundness over his judgement. Get real. Your Oregon Democrats have facilitated and enabled chronic failure in our public schools for decades. With sustaining the status quo, ie Jefferson high School, and perpetuating absolute failure with sweeping CIMCAM reforms you and yours are clearly the enemies of Oregon Public schools.

    Rich, you are singing the OEA chorus lines.

    Your message on public schools in in complete contrast to reality. The "secret" to educating our young people is using programs that work versus the heavily politicized difunctional structure we witness in our public schjool system. As far as the lopping of the bottom? I pay plenty of attention. It is you who needs to wake up.

  • Antonio (unverified)
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    Carla are you really that much of a hack or are you just faking it? I mean really!

    Isn't it indeed a blessing to wipe out the infrastructure of a public school system that has systematically failed children for decades on end? Or do you think that the children would be better off if the N.O. public schools had survived intact, and continued to operate in the afternath of Katrina just like they had before?

    As for the point about 12% of charters nationwide failing: that is totally correct. And guess what happens to those charter schools? They disappear.

    Meanwhile, at least 20% of traditional public schools nationwide are allowed to continue to fail year in, year out, destroying lives of millions of kids in the process. And the establishment keeps them going. If only they would be shut down.

    But Carla, you show the prototypical liberal mindset: institutions are more important than people.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Carla - "We don't need no education; we don't need no thought conrol. No dark sarcasm in the classroom; teachers leave those kids alone!"

    Of course perhaps those seminal lyrics don't fit your pique here. I generally like your thoughtful posts, but this one seems a bit much. Certainly we can all agree that a public school system such as the woefully underperforming one in pre-Katrina New Orleans would benefit from an opportunity to re-build from the ground up. Were the choice of words (blessing) bad? Certainly, of course. But be it Hawthorne, public sentiment, newer, better facilites, the trend so far is better performance.

    'Splain to us all how that can be a bad thing when it comes to educating young minds please.

  • Dan (unverified)
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    Too funny. This isn't about education. This is about union dues, political coffers...and trying to attack Matt Wingard with everything they can possibly think of.

    If liberals actually gave a crap about the quality of education, would this even be a debate?

    It's all about the money, honey.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    This is the perfect example of how the left enables and sustains poor education systems while parading around as if they are champions of same.

    You want to know why a public school can get locked into perpetual failure and a public charter school doesn't?

    Go read a teacher union contract and note how the principal and administration are completely hobbled.

    Trying to cast Wingard as anti-public education is typical Oregon gutter politics by the real enemies of our public schools. Of which Carla is certainly a member. Knowingly or otherwise.

  • (Show?)

    Trying to cast Wingard as anti-public education is typical Oregon gutter politics by the real enemies of our public schools. Of which Carla is certainly a member. Knowingly or otherwise.

    Cuz not cheering the destruction raked across an entire community as a "blessing" makes me the "real enemy".

    Wingard's column was asshole-ish and stupid. Your defense of it is ridiculous and pathetic. And if me being a "member" of something that is in opposition to that makes me the "enemy", so be it. I think I can live with myself just fine.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Carla, I have to admit dismay that you failed to pick up on the Pink Floyd reference, "The Wall". Too bad.

    So, I went to the link and read Wingard's entire post. I suggest that you have taken one line and decided to make that the focus rather than reported increase in performance. Isn't that really what you have an issue with? Three years is a painfully short time when measuriong efficacy of any large scale project and perhaps rather than the narrow focus, we look to the CLAIMS that increases published are due to (in whole or in part) the Charter Schools.

    What if the great turn-around is really due to parental involvment? Or business/school cooperatives? What if the reported improvements are false or transitory? Perhaps that would be a more thoughtful and meaningful post worthy of your writing skills.

    Of course the danger also lies in that the reported increases in education achievement IS due to the Charter Schools brought in. Again, inform us all how that would be a bad thing.

  • (Show?)

    Carla, I have to admit dismay that you failed to pick up on the Pink Floyd reference, "The Wall". Too bad.

    Kurt--I generally try to ignore stuff that I don't find especially compelling.

    I suggest that you have taken one line and decided to make that the focus rather than reported increase in performance. Isn't that really what you have an issue with?

    No. I posted what I have an issue with. In fact, I even wrote in in English, so I think you have a pretty good shot at reading it :)

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Too bad, you literary talents are being wasted on this one tilting at windmills. I thought that your previous posts showed some promise of substance in debate. It is too bad really, because the debate of Charter Schools regarding the status quo, top down, Adminispeak NEA public schools deserved to be held. You had the talent and ability to pull it off.

  • (Show?)

    Kurt:

    Its never acceptable to cheer destruction like Hurricane Katrina, especially not because its ideologically convenient. Its disgusting and ugly--which frankly fits into the pattern emerging with Matt Wingard.

    Its indefensible, not matter how you try to turn it into a debate on charter vs public schools.

  • LT (unverified)
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    This is an article about New Orleans schools---is the implication that Oregon schools are in as much trouble as New Orleans pre-Katrina schools?

    We have no idea whether Gustav will harm any school buildings, or how many people will look at the aftermath of the storm and decide they aren't going back this time. Seeing the New Orleans geography along the lines of "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me". Yes, it has a unique culture, but like Californians and earthquakes, is living there worth the possible disruption? I just can't imagine what a second relocation for those folks will be like.

    Just as importantly, in a previous decade someone tried to make a campaign issue of an article one candidate had written about some E. Coast schools some years before. That candidate using the article as an attack lost. The fuss about an article unrelated to Oregon was seen as one of the reasons an otherwise intelligent, qualified, experienced candidate lost that election.

  • Kurt chapman (unverified)
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    Carla, I agree that Matt Wingard's words were not acceptable. I even plainly stated so at first. Perhaps some other day, some other place the meaningful debate can be held. I know nothing of Matt and his campaign, mostly because I'm at the opposite end of the state.

    Peace.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    Carla,

    As it is abundantly obvious that Wingrad was NOT "cheering the destruction raked across an entire community" and you have been repeatedly corrected, that only leaves you as the muck raker this thread demonstrates.

    And no it isn't this stunt of yours that makes you and yours the enemies of public ed. It's your enabling and support for the failed programs and poor leadership in our school system.

    Wingard's column was congent and sppecific while it was and is your contorting that's "asshole-ish and stupid".

    Your endless mental gymnastics to defennd you nonsense buries you deeper in the pathetic muck.

    But I'm sure you are a nice lady and can live with yourself just fine.

    <h2>Me too.</h2>

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