5-29-14 – Public Schools Out, Kids Scores Up in New Orleans

Posted by Rob Roper

A number of recent news stories in Vermont have highlighted the problem our school districts have finding and retaining superintendents. The failed efforts at school district consolidation over the past legislative session were spurred in part by the bureaucratic inefficiencies evident in the current system.

We might learn a thing or two about meaningful education reform in this regard from New Orleans. They’ve eliminated the need for almost all of that bureaucratic overhead by scrapping the government-run public school business model entirely. The Washington Post reports, “In New Orleans, major school district closes traditional public schools for good.”

After Hurricane Katrina, the state of Louisiana embarked on a bold course of public education reform built around parental choice and charter schools. After this year, the last five government-run public schools will close, and every child in the district will attend an independently managed charter school.

What has this meant for the kids? The Washington Post says:

Before the storm [in 2005], the city’s high school graduation rate was 54.4 percent. In 2013, the rate for the Recovery School District was 77.6 percent. On average, 57 percent of students performed at grade level in math and reading in 2013, up from 23 percent in 2007, according to the state.

What has this meant for taxpayers? By the end of the week the district will shed 85% of the bureaucratic overhead associated with the school district. In other words, with this kind of reform, Vermont could solve our costly and impossible to staff supervisory union problems largely eliminating the supervisory unions and empowering individual school principals to make the same decisions at the local level.

Vermont legislators in 2014 focused on school district consolidation, eliminating the volunteer staffed school boards, and empowering the paid, centralized bureaucrats. New Orleans went the other way, empowering people at the local school level, and eliminating the costly political class of centralized administrators.

Vermont, which already has a long and successful history of “town tuitioning” and a vibrant community of small, independent schools, should take a look at what kind of reform is working. Here’s the reality: We cannot have meaningful property tax reform without also reforming the business model for how we deliver education. Without a model that delivers high quality outcomes at less cost, we will have to continue supplying the exorbitant taxes to sustain a less efficient, less effective system.

It’s time for a change.

– Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

David Usher May 30, 2014 at 6:53 pm

You make as strong, cogent case for the benefits of fundamental reform. Stay we with it even as the Vermont establishment argues for yet more money.

Reply

Sandy Gregg May 31, 2014 at 10:32 pm

I am afraid the State of Vermont uses education as a means of employment much in the same way it approached health insurance reform by taking it in house to create jobs rather than going directly with the federal program. It is time for some new voices in Montpelier, voices that listen to constituents,, and not lobbyists.

Reply

ROBERT J HOLDEN May 31, 2014 at 11:56 pm

POWER AND CONTROL OF THE MONEY, SO THEY CAN SOAK US WITH PROPERTY TAXES AND SAY ITS OUR FAULT FOR SPENDING TOO MUCH ON EDUCATION. THE TRUTH IS THE STATE OF VERMONT IS NOW HAVING TO CONTRIBUTE LESS FROM THE GENERAL FUND AND HAS NEARLY A YEARS WORTH OF RESERVES THAT WE HAVE HAD TO COUGH UP OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS FOR THEM TO REDUCE PROPERTY TAXES FOR SOME THAT HAVE NO NEED FOR THE REDUCTION( FOR EXAMPLE A SINGLE PERSON WITH $85,000 OF INCOME). WE ALSO CONTINUE TO SPEND MONEY ON STATE MANDATES AND THE ADMINISTRATIVE BEAUROCRACY. I SERVED AS AN ELECTED TOWN MEMBER ON THE SCHOOL BOARD FOR 13 YEARS AND THE ONLY COST SAVINGS CAME FROM THE SCHOOL BOARD..THE STATE ALWAYS INCREASED THE COST DUE TO THEIR SUPERIOR KNOWLEDGE AS TO WHAT EDUCATIONAL NEEDS OUR CHLDREN HAVE.

Reply

jim bulmer June 1, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Since when have the facts ever gotten in the way of the Dems spending our tax dollars however they choose to keep on getting reelected – rank and file Vermonters be damned.

Reply

www.ask.com September 18, 2014 at 10:50 am

My partner and I stumbled over here by a different web page and thought I might check things out.
I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to looking at your web page again.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

About Us

The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.
Read more...

Latest News

Remington Arms Case

November 13, 2019 by John McClaughry Last Tuesday the US Supreme Court cleared the way for a lawsuit against Remington Arms Co. brought by survivors  of victims of...

Scott: Make Paid Family Leave Voluntary, Unless Nobody Wants It

November 12, 2019 By Rob Roper For the past year, Governor Scott has been making the good fight on Paid Family Leave in demanding any such plan be...

False Claims of Falsity About Vermont’s Business Climate

November 8, 2019 by Rob Roper In a recent “fact check” piece by Vermont Digger, the online news site nailed Governor Scott’s comment that Energizer Battery’s decision to...

Sen. Warren and Medicare for All

November 7, 2019 by John McClaughry Last week Sen.  Elizabeth Warren released the details of her Medicare-for-All plan. The Wall Street Journal studied her explanation and concluded that ...

VT Education “Reforms” Not Helping Test Scores

November 5, 2019 by Rob Roper The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NEAP), aka the Nation’s Report Card, scores are out, and, sadly, it seems I write this...

Video