What can we learn from the last day of enrollment in New Orleans?

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My piece on this subject is over at the 74. Read it here.

You’ll notice that the tone and style is a little different than the writing on this blog.

I prefer writing as I do on this blog, but this seems not to appeal to many readers.

Here is something I said in the piece that I don’t think we talk about enough:

By drawing on our country’s deepest values and skills – entrepreneurship, problem solving, and perseverance – New Orleans educators delivered the greatest achievement gains of any city in our country’s recent history.

We should think more deeply about aligning our educational reform efforts to our nation’s history, culture, and assets.

Here’s something I did not say in the piece (but hinted at) that I don’t think we talk enough about: by the time a school needs to be transformed or closed, thousands of people have already turned their back on the institution. The business community and political elites have focused their attention elsewhere. The district has often given up on making any real changes at that school. Families have chosen not to enroll there. Educators have avoided working there.

So it feels a little off to blame the state for the ultimate takeover or closure.

One last note: creating successful high schools in cities with high poverty rates is incredibly difficult work. Students come in very, very far behind and they are dealing with extremely difficult social lives.

A few mistakes by anyone involved can begin a cycle of events that can lead to tragedy. Violence is too common.

The work of the students and educators in these schools is worthy of our greatest admiration.

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