School reform success in New Orleans is just white privilege talking, say scholars

By all accounts, education reform in post-Katrina New Orleans has been a roaring success: Test scores and graduation rates are up and students once trapped in failing schools have their choice of charter schools throughout the city.

But scholars who instead relied on autobiographical narrative, personal observations of public meetings and protests, and digital media produced by community groups say that success is just white privilege talking. Adrienne D. Dixson of the University of Illinois and Kristen L. Buras and Elizabeth K. Jeffers of Georgia State University write in the journal Qualitative Inquiry that education reform in New Orleans has exacerbated economic and cultural inequities.

John McDonogh Senior High School is one of three public high schools presented as case studies in the paper to illustrate the methods of dispossession that white reformers have engaged in.

“Parents, teachers and, importantly, students have fought back against the reforms in New Orleans schools,” said Dixson, who is conducting a multiyear ethnography of African-Americans’ experiences with education reform in New Orleans. “This resistance is important to document and share with a wider audience. We also wanted to speak back to the success narrative portrayed in the media, and the promotion of educational improvement for racially marginalized youth under the guise of civil rights. Genuine educational justice in urban public schools will be born only from substantive, ongoing community-based decision-making, rather than the accumulative interests of white elites”…

  • Norman_In_New_York

    Earth to professors: you can’t fix stupid.

  • Minicapt

    Collaborators with the OISE? More SSE needed?


  • simus1

    They seem angry.
    Must be a bunch of white, black, and furriner kids going to the top high schools and trying to get a worthwhile education?
    Sellin’ out the brothers again.

  • Xavier

    Blacks are going to demand their own schools. Full circle.

    • Frau Katze

      Still won’t solve the problem.

      • Drunk_by_Noon

        The belief that only about 1 in 10 were educable seems optimistic.

        “The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst.”
        “W. E. B.” Du Bois

        • simus1

          Du Bois was a “very intelligent” left wing idiot who would be perfectly at home in today’s Washington pulling strings on puppet Emperor Barry, being the darling of crony capitalism, plus keeping busy acknowledging the cheers of traitorous academe like Harvard.
          His more level headed rival black leaders looked towards something in the way of more practical and skilled vocations and encouraging farming and small businesses mirroring what was happening in every other ethnic and racial community. The German education system at this time was making great strides in mass education with stress on practical results and a variant of this idea might have been what they envisioned

          Blacks in the USA who were community leaders with high approval ratings of themselves and a distaste for constantly coping with the simple folks with simple problems often found Du Bois’ elitist ideas very persuasive.

    • We have them in Toronto,last I heard there was not exactly a stampede to get in.

  • eMan14

    How about rewarding merit? Education by committee doesn’t seem to work very well.
    I don’t know how many times we need to reinvent the wheel, when we already have the wheel. Not that I’m saying improvements can’t be made.
    And there seems to be a belief that everyone is the same yet they value diversity above all else. So we must be inclusive. Isn’t there a contradiction in there?
    Some people will need more help than others. Nothing wrong with that.
    Allowing people to fail is not evil or unkind. It builds character and hopefully a drive to succeed.
    I’m really thinking out loud here as I type. Not sure if I’m done.

    • Justin St.Denis

      How can improvements on the wheel be possible? Make it rounder? More circular? I’m not understanding what you are suggesting in your second paragraph.

      • eMan14

        Most improvements will be mostly superficial. It looks nice but will not have any substantial impact on it’s performance.
        New material or tread pattern would make a greater difference. But would not be seen as “exciting” a change.

  • Why do all of these interventions seem to be about allowing “educators” to keep their jobs by ensuring continued failure?