About five year, I got into an argument with a friend.
He argued that the reforms taking place in Jefferson Parish (a large, diverse suburb outside of New Orleans) would lead to more gains in student achievement than the reforms in New Orleans.
I told him that I was very skeptical of the Jefferson Parish reforms, which were mostly predicated on district improvement.
“Chartering isn’t the only way,” he said.
I told him I had two main objections to the Jefferson Parish reform efforts.
First, I think entrepreneurship (great educators launching and scaling schools) is a more effective reform strategy than best practice adoption (superintendents trying to have their staffs adopt good practices).
Second, I think that structural reform (chartering) is more sustainable than management reform (changing district practice).
Four months ago, a union backed reform bloc won a majority on the Jefferson Parish School Board, displacing the previous reform board, which was led by the business community.
The new chair of the school board, Cedric Floyd believes things are changing:
The early going has been “1,000 times better than the first two or three months of 2011,” he said, referring to the initial period of the former School Board.
Time will tell what happens in Jefferson Parish.
But I stand by my earlier predictions.
I don’t think best practice adoption is very effective or sustainable.
I do think allowing great educators to open their own schools is effective and sustainable.
This is why I believe in relinquishment, not reform.