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Thompson: New Orleans Takes a Big Step Towards Equity

Equity-Report-page-photo_sflbThe New Orleans Times Picayune's Andrew Vanacore reports that the Recovery School District's new "equity reports"  are an important step towards creating a level playing field for the competition between charters and neighborhood schools. Vanacore explains that these reports are not perfect because their numbers cannot be compared to those of neighborhood schools.  But they report the percentages of students in charter schools on special education IEPs.  Even better, they report the percentages of IEP students who have severe disabilities that require them to be in separate settings 80% of the time.  And in an effort to answer charges that charters inflate their test scores by pushing out more difficult-to-educate kids, each school's retention rate is reported.  I was a guest at two great charters, the Harriet Tubman Middle School and Sci-Academy, and I was pleased that they served their share of IEP students.  Neither had more than 1/3rd of the special education students that I had in my classes, but that is not the point.  Think of how liberating it would be if all low-income schools were like those charters where the percentage of students with learning disabilities were between 7.3% and 10%.  If the percentages of the most seriously disabled students in all schools ranged from 1.5% to 1.8%, perhaps we could have fair comparisons between charters and neighborhood schools.  In the meantime, New Orleans' efforts to achieve equity must be praised.  We should also insist that researchers across the nation follow their lead and consider the effects of intense concentrations of students who have severe emotional disabilities, as opposed to learning disabilities.-JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.

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