Doing hard stuff in the Big Easy

Bravo, New Orleans. Having given charter schools room to grow, local and state education officials are now hammering out the details of an oversight system--and not a moment too soon. Since roughly 60 percent of students in New Orleans attend charters, ensuring that these are quality learning venues is an essential next step. According to Ken Campbell, director of the state's charter-school office, the new evaluation tools will include clearer expectations for student progress and will use both quantitative and qualitative evaluations to examine school culture and climate as well as test scores. The key, however, will be making it easier to chuck out the bad apples. And the city's 47 charters are due to come up for renewal in the next couple years. No details as of yet, but state superintendent Paul Pastorek foresees a harsher metric. "We now have a lot of demand for opening charter schools in New Orleans," he explains, "so I think we can apply more scrutiny and afford to be tougher on grading the quality of schools." Kudos to that sentiment. We'll have to wait and see if he's right.

"System sought to monitor charter schools," by Sarah Carr, New Orleans Times-Picayune, November 9, 2008