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Larry Miller, an elected member of the Milwaukee school board and a member of the editorial board of Rethinking Schools, has written an excellent review and summary of Kristen Buras’ book–Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space— about the privatization of public education in New Orleans. New Orleans has gotten an undeserved national reputation as “the answer” to struggling school districts. The establishment in many other urban districts are looking at New Orleans as a model, but it is a model of what NOT to do. As Buras tells it, the reforms in New Orleans dispossessed the black citizens of New Orleans and created great possibilities for white entrepreneurs. A teaching force that was 75% black was dismissed and replaced largely by white Teach for America recruits.
Milwaukee is one of the urban districts where the civic and business leadership is looking longingly at New Orleans. Perhaps Larry Miller can share Buras’ book with them.
Miller writes: “A major theme to her research is that the New Orleans RSD is a Southern strategy to use market-based reforms to give control of public schools, attended by Black children in Black communities and often taught by Black teachers, over to well funded white entrepreneurs.”