Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home


[Susan notes: Kudos to Rob Bligh. It is especially shameful when neo-liberals conveniently ignore the 31% children of poverty no longer in New Orleans.

Chait reveals that his wife works for a charter organization. He does not reveal his close ties with Center for American Progress. His piece tries to overwhelm reader with charts & graphs, and he spends half the ink attacking Andrea Gabor's criticism of New Orleans reform.]

Submitted to New York Magazine but not published
08/24/2015

To the editor

Re: How New Orleans Proved Education Reform Can Work by Jonathan Chait

A triumph it's not. When Katrina struck there were 65,000 students enrolled in New Orleans public school system. Today there are 45,000 students enrolled in what replaced that system. There is no reason to believe that the 31 percent who are missing are anything but the poorest of the impoverished pre-Katrina students and, therefore the very least able students.

Any urban district that could shed the poorest 31 percent of its students would experience an instantaneous and enormous spike in the average academic performance of the remaining 69 percent without any change in the performance of any individual student.

If the largest impoverished urban district in my state (Omaha Public Schools) were to experience the loss of its 31 percent least able students, its reading proficiency rate would instantly jump from the current 63 percent to 91 percent, leaving the state average of 77 percent in the dust. This "improvement" would happen without any increase in any academic performance by any of the remaining students.

Average academic “improvement” following the removal of the poorest of the poor students is certainly not a "triumph of social policy." It's what always happens in arithmetic when you reduce the denominator without changing the numerator.



Rob Bligh


FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.