Set Up to Fail

A former teacher says an acclaimed college-prep charter school in New Orleans is setting students up for failure…

By Jake Guth
sci1There’s an old adage that if something seems too good to be true, then it likely is. Sci Academy, one of New Orleans’ top-rated charter schools, exemplifies that adage. As a success story/victim of New Orleans Public Schools, depending on which way you want to view it, I approached my job interview at Sci Academy with a big grain of salt. The Craigslist ad for a coach described an academically-driven school that was attempting to start an athletics program.

I still remember how blown away I was by my first visit to the school—how it was unlike any *public* school I’d ever seen: the polite kids I interacted with, the noticeable absence of discipline problems. The red flags should have gone up right away. Like the fact that I had no experience coaching. Or that I was given the keys to a room that was used as the school storage closet and told to clear it for a weight room. Or that there was no budget and the equipment was all donated, meaning that the helmets were well past the three-year certification usage limit and many of the pads were moldy. None of it mattered. I was 24 years old, a minority from New Orleans, and I’d landed what seemed like a dream job. Continue reading →

College Perp

Is harsh discipline really the best way to prepare low-income minority students for college?

silent lines

Quick reader: what is the best way to prepare low-income minority students for college and 21st-century success? If you answered *an obsessive focus on the students’ smallest behaviors (particularly infractions of the uniform variety) paired with plenty of harsh discipline for disciplinary infractions* you are in excellent company. In fact, almost everyone who is anyone these days is in near uniform agreement that harsh punishment today is a recipe for 21st century success tomorrow. Well, not everyone. A group of New Orleans parents recently filed suit, claiming that a *demeaning culture of discipline* at three of the city’s charter schools, including Sci Academy, considered a model charter for New Orleans and beyond, violates the civil rights of students.  Continue reading →