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Update: Diverse NOLA Charter Opens, Duncan Nixes ELL Preference

Pile-of-books-1Remember that school in the works a couple of years ago in New Orleans, where the goal was to take some of the best elements of private progressive and structured charter schools and make a diverse environment?  

Its founder, Josh Denson, spoke at the time about how frustrated he was with the dominant (90/90/90) charter school model, and yet  “In schools where it’s all about learning, discovery, and projects and teamwork, there seems to me to be an absence of or a reluctance to have any kind of accountability.”

Well, the school, Bricolage, opened this year.  It's goals are to "launch a new kind of school - one that advances educational equity and creates innovators who change the world."  I wrote about it in my November 2012 Education Next piece, Diverse Charter Schools

Meantime, the USDE has apparently pressured another set of folks trying to explore the diverse charter schools idea against setting up a lottery preference based on ELL status.  

As reported in GothamSchools (Facing federal funding freeze, Success to nix lottery preference), the Success network has been told to give up its ELL priority or lose charter school startup funding.  

Other diverse charters, including Brooklyn Prospect and Community Roots, might not face such pressures since they're not replicating startups, but it's still a bad signal to send to schools trying to do something interesting and potentially very powerful (ie, find a sweet spot between charters and district schools).  Brooklyn Prospect has now grown into the high school years, as originally envisioned, and also is opening an elementary school starting with kindergarten this year.

According to the GothamSchools article, other charters with preferences for single-parent kids, autistic kids, and other priorities could soon be affected.  Ironically, the USDE ruling on the lottery issue will indirectly encourage/allow charters to serve larger percentages of white/affluent families.

I'm checking around to see if other schools in NY or other states are being affected.

So far, at least, Bricolage hasn't needed a weighted lottery. The first class's demographics are roughly 45 percent free lunch, slightly lower than the application and lottery yields. 

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