Live chat, noon Thursday: Does reality of school choice measure up to rhetoric?

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We’ve gotten a lot of attention for our recent story about the paradox of school choice within the Recovery School District. Federal law requires that students in failing schools are offered choices at higher-performing, non-failing schools. But Heather Miller found that those options aren’t much better — and are sometimes worse — than students’ current schools.

Here’s what two siblings at McDonogh City Park Academy were offered:

For Kaleb, [Anika] Watson’s third-grader, the transfer options were slim: four D-rated schools, one newly authorized charter that hasn’t been graded yet, and another school with a lower academic performance score than City Park Academy.

The 10 transfer options RSD offered her fifth-grader, Kaliyah, included one B-rated school, seven D-rated schools, one new charter school with no assigned letter grade and two other schools that, like City Park Academy, have been labeled “academically unacceptable” by the state.

The notices from RSD didn’t disclose the transfer schools’ letter grades, but when Watson looked at her options, she said, “I knew immediately that most of them were bad.”

Watson’s experience points to a key failure in New Orleans’ lauded landscape of choice-based educational reform: In a city where parental options abound, how many of the choices are reputable ones?

In the RSD, it seems, not enough. …

“If every student in a failing school wanted to transfer,” said Gabriela Fighetti, RSD’s executive director of enrollment, “we would not be able to guarantee them a slot.”

Our story was republished by several news sites run by Digital First Media, including the Denver Post and the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Thursday at noon CT, Digital First will moderate a live chat with Miller and Rebecca Catalanello, the editor who oversees our charter schools coverage. Please come with your questions and comments about the story, and about school choice in New Orleans.

Live chat

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