Charter Schools Related schools coverage »

John McDonogh group sends open letter decrying ‘Blackboard Wars’; Tuesday meetings planned

The founder of Future Is Now, the charter school organization leading the controversial new management of John McDonogh High, plans to attend a Tuesday night meeting of parents and community members concerned about the school, according to meeting organizers.

The Future Is Now Executive Board will be meeting at the school at 10 a.m. Founder, chairman and CEO Steve Barr is expected to attend an additional 6 p.m. meeting of the John McDonogh Advisory Board, a community organization formed to support and oversee the school’s charter board.

Led by Clarence Robinson, the advisory board has been openly critical of “Blackboard Wars,” the Oprah Winfrey Network documentary about the school and Future Is Now leaders’ efforts to turn it around.

Robinson’s group on Friday sent out an open letter to Winfrey, Barr, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and others describing the show as “a source of negative, exploitative depictions of the students and the school.”

The letter challenges factual assertions it says are made in the show about the safety of the school and its students.

“These blanket statements stereotype our school and our children,” the letter says. “They reinforce low expectations for John McDonogh students. Students who are told repeatedly that they are violent, troubled and beyond redemption will soon come to believe it.”

Tuesday’s meetings are both scheduled to be held at the school, located at 2426 Esplanade Ave.

Help us report this story     Report an error    
The Lens' donors and partners may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover.
About Della Hasselle

Della Hasselle, a freelance journalist and producer, reports environmental and criminal justice stories for The Lens. A graduate of Benjamin Franklin High School and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Hasselle lived in New York for 10 years. While up north, she produced and anchored news segments, wrote feature stories and reported breaking news for, a hyperlocal news site. Before that, she worked at the New York Daily News. She obtained her master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She can be reached at (917) 304-6121.

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    Where is the State Department of Education? Again, absent on the job. Where is the State Superintendent? Where is BESE? Ignoring the controversies occurring at charter schools. The public has been deceived about the veracity of New Orleans charter schools. I am glad to read that parents are holding those in charge accountable, as no one can count on the SDE or BESE who continue to cover up the problems associated with charter schools.

  • nickelndime

    I like your style, Joy. You are looking at the bigger picture. But, the OPSB is an unwitting player in this scenario too (even though it appears that it is a State problem – you know, like when John White said Lycee has a local problem – Local vs. State/State vs. Local). Stan Smith (CFO and Acting Superintendent) and Kathleen Padian (Deputy Superintendent of the Charter School Office) are in unison with the State, even though they are being paid those 6-figure salaries with local money. Adams and Reese’s Lee C. Reid, compliments of Lourdes Moran and Thomas Robichaux, knew exactly what was going on in the inner workings, just like he had a seat in the board room. Newly-elected Sarah Usdin, founder of New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO), wags the dog with three votes because she can always get Ellison or Marshall to be #4. Cade is missing from action when the heat is on, and Thomas will spend the next 4 years doing “his thing” (and being odd man out).

  • Please if a story is done about John McDonogh, please make mention of Tekia Francis, Age 16 – New Orleans, LA; Last Seen January 19, 2013 (her Mom says she dropped her off at school on Barracks Street.)